Monday, June 26, 2006

Tate St Ives

Last week i wandered down to Cornwall and visited the Tate St. Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Gardens. The Tate was lovely... tiny and intimate with two modernist retrospectives and a lovely selection of etchings/seriography available to purchase. To be honest, at first i was a little disappointed in the Tate St Ives... bear in mind my expectations were on the grand scale (perhaps naively) with the Modern in mind. The exterior facade of the Gasworks building hints at a huge interior of white spaces interrupted with art. Huzzah! Another point for architecture dwarfing is purpose! BUT once you enter the building you are shunted down a hall with reprints of modernist artists for sale... around a corner and tadaa you are in the Resident Gallery room... sure you get to see a Naom Gabo and a Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, all interesting pieces in their own right, but the 60sq ft room seems to be a minimal gesture.

Then you are presented with a strange spiralesque staircase that leads to the retrospectives up and down. I wont go into the retrospectives, I thoroughly enjoyed them but they arent the subject here... its the Tate itself.

The light and bowed glass windows add a lovely fishbowl feel to the work on display and although st ives is noted for its Mediteranean light, come on people... its friggin england... grey skys were always on order here. The intent was great but at the same time it lets the work down more often than not. Again, it seems the architecture of the Tate 'powers that be' is more important than the works its housing. Sure its indy-culturally sensative, and sure its avant garde, but really, its detracting. The coolest room was the courtyard which was filled with a sealed marquee (most likely full of shovels, whitewash/emulsion, and other crap).

The Tate modern suffers from similar problems. They commission artists to glorify the main space. Not fill it... the only show ive seen that successfully pulled attention away from the stratospheric space was Anish Kapoor's Marsyas... and that was because it completely obstructed any view whatsoever of the space it inhabited. It filled and threatened in such a way that you forgot you were in the tate. Personally i didnt like Marsyas... I couldnt get Alien Condom outta my head. Perhaps Im a pervert. LOL theres no perhaps about it is there.

OMFG this dood (
Wesley Kimler) on BadatSports is SO damned annoying. Im not sure if its his accent or sanctimonious self aggrandising/advertising and complete and total hostile takeover of BAS but whatever it is... im glad i have the power of Volume. of course i really only listen to BAS for Duncans velvet/dulcet tones... o they stroke my tympanic membranes in such delectable ways. o ya heres a link for BAS Click HERE

Sorry about that...hes droning on in the background as i type here. Im looking for razorblades... i swear to god.

O ya... so anyways.. the tate... nice... kool prints for sale... interesting take on local art history... even celebrates it... but it seems like a... half assed attempt at a 'Tate'. Ok heres a contrast for you... i went to a tourist trap a day later... the Poldark Mines... its a Mine... deep dark wet and cold... kinda scary and forces you to confront all sorts of inner issues and for some, Bat fetishes. The gift shop? a joke... most of the stuff on sale had a layer of dust deeper than my stubble is long. Shiddy nickknacks, fossils, tin ingots and personalized plastic 'nonspill' coffee mugs... not a whole fecking lot else. BUT the £7 entry fee... MORE than made up by the experience of being 130 feet below bedrock and the water table, standing on a rusty gantry above a black hole (depth unknown) that flooded a hundred years ago. Pumps and gushing and water trickling somewhere around the corner... and the knowledge a mine 20 yards to the left through the rock wall is flooded to about 50 feet above my head and they dont know how close the nearest shaft is to where we are standing... and they are still digging in a rather worrisome random way.

The Tate St Ives on the other hand... is like a poor facade of art and architecture made to support and house the Gift Shop. Its a really great gift shop... i mean it... i wanted so many things and had to be so so so so careful... after resisting the temptation to buy a reprint of a Hepworth Etching on my credit card i could easily refuse a new edition of The Shock of the New.

But please dont let me dissuade you from the St Ives tate, it is lovely. But more like a bastard runaway redheaded stepchild of the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain. Still a 'tate' but not quite worthy the full title in a Saatchi-esque way.

I had more fun at the bottom of a mineshaft though... but mebbe thats just me.

The hepworth museum and gardens though? So gorgeous. So so so gorgeous. In a mausoleum sort of way. Each piece is a beauty, but somehow, the entire place has a graveyard feel. Her kitchen space converted into a timeline of her life in sepia photos, her living room a gallery mixed with some original furniture... a nook has a partially carved 4 foot wooden block, chisle laid to rest as though she has simply stepped out for a pint of milk. In some ways the entire place is like one of those parents who lost a child and couldnt quite move on, they leave the room exactly as it was when their child last lived, and it remains as a shrine. The hepworth gardens are a shrine to one of the last great British artists.

Almost EVERYTHING else in this country, in fact large tracts of the country itself, is a memorial/mausoleum/shrine to the past or a great Noun from the past. The new has proved to most people as lacklustre and uninteresting. Or at least not covered by either football or Big Brother. Kinda sad eh?

Personally i LOVE graveyards and mausoleums... zombies aside. (most of the reason i like graveyards is zombies) and imagine zombies in the hepworth gardens... 'braaaaaaii*ooo look at the organic qualities of this bronze peice!!!* The gardens are truly lovely koipond and all. Its always nice to stroke that which you have only seen in glossies... what... shutup.

Ok im done... Im going to take Bad at Sports' tagline here and claim in dont know jack, revel in the irresponsiblity of being a vocal audience member instead of a journalist, and just make blanket statements to see if anyone cares.




Blogger omnivorist said...

Love your comment about Tate St Ives being 'architecture made to support a Gift Shop'.

I've just posted a piece on the same subject - though I'm not quite as generous as you are. I think it's an ill-conceived and neurotic building.

10:17 pm  
Blogger Lolabola said...

What a great descriptive post. I love the interruption! I read the whole thing! I also loved getting to the end and seeing that omnivorist has summed their view up in one sentence.

4:33 pm  
Blogger pravo said...

I also like the surgical strike comment of omni... and would probably have gone the same road if i actually had anything resembling work to do here at work. hee!
so basically you all suffer because im bored :)

o got really drunk last night.. not feeling good today... bleargh.

2:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am absolutely envious hepworth?Did you take any photos? can we see?
& naum g has such phenomenal symmetry!! tate! would be wonderful if the tate filled up the main space more often- & it's beautifully daring- the way you describe the show you saw of kapoor would have liked to have seen that myself!

& i listen to bas too & kimler is a horror, hostility everywhere & recently he paraded his obnoxiousness at attacking & dragging in another artist 'Denes"?
at a molon/sympathy for the devil post,
who ever she is she's not bad
reminds me of some of anna genger
who i like alot
if only he knew that yood agrees with this "ben' that his conspiracy theories & ego are a problem
he beats up people & his friends in the most annoying way left & right
for what reazor blades yes &
not art
duncan does have a velvet tone hope that he will think about not letting kimler continue to be so disrespectful to chicago artists
it's horrible, it was funny though because kimler could not explain what his shows were about he said they are documented but all you get are photos of liquor & artists that are not talked about,
basically his shows have been uncurated

what prints did you buy? at the tate?
inner issues=mines, caves, definately
130 feet!! photos photos when i come back i'd just gush over your hepworth mine naum photos!
i have to visit the hepworth shrine your description was absolutely lovely
memorial/mausoleum/shrine to the past
koi pond!

your , observations & honesty, very loose writing style & descriptions were lovely

more more!

7:40 am  

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