Anya Gallaccio had an installation at her recent exhibition at Tate Modern called Impermanence. A massive pile of oranges were left in the gallery . Viewers were invited to eat an orange, those not eaten would inevitably rot. It makes you think.
Tate Modern has been stimulating the artistic taste buds and making people think for twenty years.
It has become one of Britain’s most visited institutions.
When I did a Fine Art Degree as a mature student, Tate Modern became my 3D immersive text book. So much so that my nine year old daughter spun round the Turbine Hall declaring it was her favourite place in the world. There are some amazing works of art there.
My current favourite installation.
By Yinka Shonibare
The British Library
I’ve pondered a lot, on this blog about Tate Modern. Some of them will appear below.
Four years ago a pillow left Cornwall for a journey that shows no sign of ending. As I write this it is safely in a flat in Wimbledon, following two months of a residency at the Austrian Cultural Forum
The Pillow is part of ‘Pillow Talk – conversation with women’
Pillow Talk is a transportable installation featuring 59 pillows devised and curated by Mellisa Budasz, Jasmine Praddissitto, Kim Thornton and the late Moira Jarvis. Featuring the work of members of South London Women Artists.
Here is the story of the installations event at Tate Modern.
Each pillow was created by an artist to express how her creativity was inspired or shaped by another woman.
My pillow was inspired by my mother. Here it is with my daughter at Tate Modern.
There is a book to accompany the installation . Each artist wrote a brief explanation of their pillows story.
This blog is the longer story of my pillow.
I was my mother’s only child and the result of an unwanted pregnancy. I realise that this statement seems harsh but it was a truth she never attempted to hide from me. I am not at all unique, a large percentage of the human race are the result of unwanted pregnancies. Her unwanted pregnancy spurred her on to set up Family Planning clinics in a rural corner of Essex early in the 1960’s. She and a small group of friends set their clinics up under the umbrella of the Family Planning Association. Contraception freely available to all was not the organisations original mission. Contraception was only available to married women with written permission of their husbands, or Vicar in the case of soon to be married women.
My mum and her friends ran their clinics a little differently and offered contraception to anyone who wanted it and faked the male permissions. Progressive sexual literature was available and all women were encouraged to attend for smears.
Running these clinics was not without personal cost. There were occasional protests and stuff was put through the letter box at home. Our house was at one time surrounded by women pushing prams.
Eventually the country caught up with North East Essex and contraception and sexual health advice became freely and unquestionably available.
The pillow records the actions of normal anonymous women doing something forward thinking but not universally popular for all women in their community. Their strength of character is my creative inspiration.
The pillow on its latest outing.
And in the book.
Any row of books has potential.
A row of books that are beautiful, but fakes, should be disappointing.
Tate Modern bought ‘British Library’ by Yinka Shonibare CBE in 2019.
The installation of 6,328 books is as much a space for contemplation as the Seagram Murals by Rothko in the same building .
My response to Rothko is to be peaceful and calm. Shonibares work makes my head fizz. It’s not just the vivid, vibrant colours but the stark utilitarian librariness of it.
3 walls of a gallery are filled with bookshelves. All the books are brightly coloured, covered with Dutch Fabric, a mass produced batik style material from the Netherlands. On the spines in gold leaf are the names of first or second generation migrants to Britain who have made significant contributions to the culture or history of Britain. Some books have the names of people who have opposed migration, this negative group is balanced by the huge number of books that have no names on their spines representing the future when currently unknown migrants will boost and embellish British life in unimaginable ways.
Central to this exhibition is a website where migrants or their descendents can add their stories. These additions can be read on the website.
I took my small granddaughter, also a migrant, to this exhibition before she was one. Already a lover of colourful books I plan to take her regularly until she can add her story.
The Guardian ran an article about Yinka Shonibare last week.
A little over a year ago I crossed this bridge physically and metaphorically. After a 42 year career in the NHS I left to embark on an artistic and creative phase of my life. Straight ahead, in this picture, is St Paul’s Cathedral and behind that BartsHeartCentre. This bridge was part of my route home after a days work or an on call shift at Barts. The views from this bridge are wonderful, restorative and uplifting. Sometimes they needed to be.
One year on is a good time to reflect. Leaving a career I had nurtured for 42 years was a hard decision, but it had become an uncomfortable fit that I was no longer prepared to compromise my creative drive for. I had painted and created as relaxation since leaving school and even with limited time had had some success exhibiting and selling work. I studied part-time for a degree in Fine Art, fitting in five years of study with raising a family and building a career.
Having crossed the bridge forever, deliberately giving up my professional registration, the way forward was art rather than arteries and creativity rather than cardiac arrests.
The first thing I noticed was the incredible amount of headspace that appears when you no longer work 40 hour weeks. It took a little longer to feel fitter and younger. What surprised me was that limitless time to be creative doesn’t actually make for super creativity . It doesn’t actually get any easier to render an image onto a canvas , there is more time to make mistakes and prevaricate and definitely more time to tidy the studio or buy materials. Mistakes are the big thing, I love them now, previously they were mind numbing irritants, coming between me and my next great composition . Paint on canvas might not, in the past, have occurred again for weeks but now that’s not the case. So mistakes are my new big thing, new materials, quirky pairings ( Concrete and silk is my current vibe) Realising I couldn’t just flit about making extravagant mistakes I built some pressures into life. I’ve been learning the writing style to create useful art/cultural event reviews, 600 words, for publication. I’ve also learnt to utilise social media to publicise gallery and other art related events.
In many ways this brings my year of crossing the bridge to a conclusion. Unexpectedly a small piece of my work was included in a TateLates exhibition. Ironically it was a piece created when the pressures of my previous life on the north bank of the Thames were very great. Who knows where the mistakes, headspace and time will lead me.
The South London Women Artists installation ‘Pillow Talk’ Exhibition at Tate Modern has been postponed from 29th September 2017 until sometime in 2018. Thanks to everyone who had promised to attend , as soon as we have a date it will be circulated .