February 23rd – 26th Walk 9 London
I have decided to include the walks taken over the whole weekend, as a diversion from my usual singular Sunday walks.
A long weekend away for family reasons … but the chance to take some London air, (cars, people and noise in over abundance) – and attend some exhibitions. Actually, quite a few exhibitions. Tate Modern to see Yayoi Kusama, and Tacita Dean in the Turbine Hall. I enjoyed sitting through the Tacita Dean film, as a hand tinted analogue film, it truly felt like a ‘visual poem’, wonder if sound might have provided more engagement … or less?
Really impressed with Kusama’s work, as a retrospective of her work which must span about 75 years, it is a really well curated exhibition, finishing with a work in a room of mirrors, light, and polka dots, you enter a space of pure psychedelia. Her art might well suggest a condition of compulsive obsessive disorder but in terms of art, what better outlet? After being suitably impressed, a wander through levels 3-5 began to give sensory overload, before deciding to take in the Hayward (why not), for David Shrigley ‘Brain Activity’ and Jeremy Deller’s ‘Joy in People’. Enjoyed both, Shrigley demonstrates a wonderful tongue in cheek sense of Glasgow humour, despite being from Macclesfield (he can be forgiven as he lives in Glasgow), and I giggled through his quirky drawings, silly animations, taxidermied rat, and his wry and ‘literally’ absurd commentaries on life. At this point, with feet shouting for some respite, Deller’s exhibition included an installation ‘cafe’ where a free cup of tea was provided. A quirky, slightly oddly juxtapositioned exhibition with intriguing videos of bats, alongside ‘wrestler’ Adrian Street, alongside protest banners and (thankfully) ‘Valerie’s cafe’.
At the Whitechappel Gallery, Zarina Bhimji’s photographs and film installations were very evocative, translating the ‘archeology of place’ (India and East Africa) into sound and film pieces, she managed to inject a resonance with her captured images that were quite hypnotic. I really liked the photography. Mirrors again, and in an exhibition by Josiah McElheny, geometrics, colour and light are used to recreate a panoply of kaleidoscopic imagery. Upstairs, the Government Art Collection was more eclectic, with art from 1610 (‘Portrait of a Lady’ – possibly Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia – I copied the lace pattern of her collar into my sketch book) to Yinka Shonabare’s ‘Ship in a Bottle’ (a little one).
Finally the Rothko, only one disappointingly, but interesting footage and life history of the man. Somehow didn’t chime with me, for all it’s careful curatorial instructions from Rothko himself, somehow the size of the room, or the light didn’t work for me.
Back to the fourth plinth! Just in time to catch the new exhibit. Elmgreen and Dragset’s ‘Powerless Structures Fig 101′ is a bronze cast of a boy on a rocking horse. Just a bit daft. Good in the evening light though.
White Cube was a little (too) minimalist (Hoxton). Gary Hume’s ‘The indifferent Owl’ was split between this gallery and the Masons Yard gallery. It worked well in the gallery space but somehow lacked substance, perhaps the result of dividing the content. We mistakenly returned thinking we had spotted a third floor that we had missed, but this was just office space.
Rivington gallery provided a very interesting exhibition called ‘Social Fabric’ which focused on textiles and the effects of colonial relationships with India. The history and politics around the 19th/20th century and how this was connected to textile production both in the past and today was explored in documentary form through pictorial and sculptural art as well as archival pieces. I would liked to have stayed longer but ….
A day in Kew Gardens was very restful after central London, and even found a delightful little gallery that housed a wonderful selection of horticultural and botanical drawings and paintings. Joseph Hooker featured in the Shirley Sherwood gallery with beautiful illustrations from a huge array of botanical illustrators, but it was the Marianne North Gallery that really took my breath away. Just jealous really, a pioneer of note, she travelled everywhere to record plants and paint. Stunning curation, although I imagine not to everyone’s taste, far from minimalist.
National Portrait gallery and Lucian Freud. A huge retrospective spanning over seventy years. Not previously an artist who captured my imagination, but there was a delicacy that was apparent in more of his paintings than I expected. I still don’t like his paintings of Tilly, but his use of paint is somehow fascinating and he certainly captures the character of his sitters.
The Royal Academy exhibition featured the David Hockney’s exhibition ‘The Bigger Picture’- and they certainly were. Full of vitality and personality, colour and light these landscapes were large and all-enveloping. If it hadn’t been so busy maybe they would not have had the same slightly over bearing feeling. I felt that I enjoyed them best when I was quite distant from them, and this was not easy in the crush. Maybe it was the feeling that in the environments portrayed, half of London would not normally have been there with you!
Also managed a night at the Comedy Store with Paul Merton and co. and a night at the PizzaExpress Jazz Club, pleasant ambient jazz by Senario in Beatles mode, and the pizza was good.
A bit shattered.