Made from Light at Tate Liverpool

‘Made from Light: The Art and Science of Renewable Energy’ was a week-long, interdisciplinary event organized by the Literature & Science Hub, and hosted in the ‘Tate Exchange’ space at Tate Liverpool in June 2018. ‘Made from Light’ explored our relationship with energy, including:


  • How the future of energy production and our environment will be shaped by not only science and technology, but also culture, beliefs and behaviours.
  • How our engagement with art and literature shapes society, behaviours and imagination in relation to energy production and consumption.
  • How the possibility of harnessing the power of the sun has inspired (and continues to inspire) scientists, engineers, writers and artists alike.

The exhibitions showcased research on energy from across the University of Liverpool, including staff from English, History, Architecture, Engineering, and the Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy. Visitors (including the occasional celebrity) responded with questions, comments and creative pieces, which themselves became part of the exhibition, encouraging further dialogue.

The exhibition also included political satire from cartoonist Martin Rowson and displays of artworks from the Tate’s own holdings that explore the production and consumption of energy in art and literature. The Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy also visited us with their model ‘Solar City’.

Alongside the physical displays the Literature and Science Hub curated a series of public talks, approaching issues such as art and the Anthropocene, the history and future of solar power, nuclear culture, sustainable architecture, and harvesting fuel from waste. The Hub’s Greg Lynall collaborated with artist Simon Logan on a series of musical pieces which synthesized and sampled the sound of real and imagined energy systems to create a new, original audio-visual artwork.

Throughout the week our on-site creative writing instructors Philippa Holloway and Bernadette McBride challenged visitors to compose poetry, fiction and artworks exploring their own visions of present and future energy. You can see many of the pieces on our Twitter and Instagram pages, and prizewinning responses can be found here.

We were thrilled with the response from our visitors, whose comments included:

  • ‘Completely changed my whole sense of energy and convinced me that renewable is the way forward.’
  • ‘I wasn’t sure of the arts’ place in this technological field before this event. Now I think it has an important part to play.’
  • ‘V. interesting--really loved the angle on the history of [renewable energy]'

And, perhaps most importantly

  • ‘Maybe we are not doomed after all.'