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The Stage of Drawing

reviewAt Tate Liverpool, Albert Dock, Liverpool, until 28 March

Drawings are the subject of this wideranging and surprising exhibition, with some 150 items from the Tate's own collection on show, writes Andrew Mead.

Selected by artist Avis Newman, they are grouped in four categories, and the one called 'Chronicling Space' may interest AJ readers first. It includes buildings such as Westminster Abbey, The Pantheon and Palladio's Redentore church, depicted in ways that vary from the diagrammatic to the atmospheric, but thrives on the juxtapositions that the hang creates - for instance, an 18th-century seascape directly beneath a drawing by Sol LeWitt, which is just as panoramic in format but resembles an intricate fine mesh.

Another 18th-century sketch, Joseph Wright's Lake of Keswick and Skiddaw, with copious annotations recording colour, light and weather, is at one end of the show's spectrum - trying to capture 'reality' and trap the transient. Others, more abstract, use drawing to make worlds of their own:

'to think the unthought', as one contributor to the particularly elegant catalogue (£25) puts it. But, in its editing and emphases as it treats a passing scene, Wright's hurried sketch is a way of thinking, too - and this is the thread that links all the disparate material, along with the sense of intimacy that is integral to drawing, to the action of a hand not a machine. Many of the works are of high quality in themselves; the affinities and contrasts that emerge add Right: H F Aylesford's Interior of the Pantheon, c 1780

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