Tate Britain

I do like to visit Tate Britain and was pleased to see a rare glimpse of life behind the scenes and reiterated the importance of packing an artwork correctly prior to an exhibition that had been impressed upon us the week before by Helen. It was especially good to see the care being taken by the Tate Britain staff who were unpacking the artwork.

Rachel McLean

Wow! – Overwhelming to say the least, however a good representation of the modern world that we live in where likes on social media seem to take precedence over all things.

Alluded to peer pressure from others, particularly for teenagers. I think my daughter, Johanna (16) would have found a lot of similarity in the video to her daily life and the experience she has as a teenager in today’s world.

I have long felt that technology is advancing too quick and as a result we are losing our sense of community and the values that go along with that. Quite often I find myself saying to my husband or daughter that if they only put their phone down they would find a whole world waiting for them to interact with.

I know I am prone to a bit of obsession with my phone too – coming from a computer software career, this is almost inbred as a result of the career choices I had made in my early life.

This video doesn’t exist

Wot u 🙂 about?, part of Tate Britain’s Art Now series, focuses on new works by Glasgow-based artist-filmmaker Rachel Maclean (born Edinburgh, 1987). They present a vision of society that is at once seductive and nightmarish, exaggerating contemporary preoccupations and behaviours.

It’s What’s Inside That Counts 2016 parodies social media, advertising, children’s television programmes and fairy tales, subjects that appear frequently in Maclean’s work. The film borrows techniques global corporations use to sell well-being, youth and happiness by bombarding us with imagery and preying on our anxieties. This new film and the related prints critique consumption in all its forms, focusing particularly on our dependence on technology. Playing all of her characters herself, Maclean uses green-screen backdrops to create sinister animated environments. A blankly glamorous celebrity figure embodies data, feeding a desperate crowd with selfies and internet cables until her system is hacked. This technological collapse causes a complete breakdown in the sick society Maclean depicts, but she gives little sense that anything better will replace it.


Martin Boyce

This had to be my favourite piece at Tate Britain. There was just something about the metal canopy of leaves that gave the room a utopian feel. I almost didn’t notice the leaves on the floor at first. The table reminded me of school tables that were carved into and gave me a nostalgic feeling.

This piece to me was ALL about feeling and emotion that we experience from the environment. It almost gave me a sense of peace at a point in the trip where I was beginning to feel overwhelmed.

Glasgow-based artist Martin Boyce is interested in the physical and psychological experience of the built environment. His installations explore the modern urban landscape, particularly with reference to twentieth century modernist design, and its connections to utopian notions of living.

Like much of his work, Do Words Have Voices takes as it starting point concrete sculptures of trees designed in 1925 by Joël and Jan Martel(both 1896–1966) that Boyce sees as ‘the perfect collapse of architecture and nature’. The display brings together six works, including three ‘trees’ with a canopy of metal leaves and a table based on a library desk by modernist designer Jean Prouvé. Paper leaves are scattered on the floor as though blown by gusts of air emanating from Boyce’s modernist-style ventilation grills. The lights in the room are dimmed to evoke the atmosphere of an urban park at dusk. There is a sense that we have stumbled across a place where some form of human activity recently took place.

Boyce says he explores ‘the things we pass through every day and then occasionally catch a glimpse of and maybe see something that has a meaningful resonance. The work is to amplify those moments.’ Boyce was awarded the Turner Prize in 2011, which was held at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead. This work, a recent acquisition by Tate, was conceived for that exhibition.


Paul Nash

I particularly like Paul Nash’s interest in the moon, the equinox and mythology as this reflects my own spiritual interests. I did spend some time with the second world war paintings and noticed that the longer I spent with a painting the more I saw and the brighter the colours became.

Some of the ink drawings have inspired me to continue with my biro drawings which I have neglected in recent months in favour of video and digital work.

Paul Nash was fascinated with Britain’s ancient past and spent time in southern England exploring the Downs and coastal areas. Equally inspired by the equinox and the phases of the moon, he used all these influences in his work, interpreting his environment according to a unique, personal mythology, evolving throughout his career.

Featuring a lifetime’s work from his earliest drawings through to his iconic Second World War paintings, this exhibition reveals Nash’s importance to British modern art in the most significant show of his work for a generation.


David Hockney

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see David Hockney, however, I did research this exhibition given this was the highlight of the Tate Britain during our visit.

On reflection, it would have been advantageous to purchase the tickets for the exhibitions prior to going to London.

This exhibition gathers together an extensive selection of David Hockney’s most famous works celebrating his achievements in painting, drawing, print, photography and video across six decades.

As he approaches his 80th birthday, Hockney continues to change his style and ways of working, embracing new technologies as he goes. From his portraits and images of Los Angeles swimming pools, through to his drawings and photography, Yorkshire landscapes and most recent paintings – some of which have never been seen before in public  –  this exhibition shows how the roots of each new direction lay in the work that came before. A once-in-a-lifetime chance to see these unforgettable works together.


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