I was going to photoshop the title of this piece into the sign there. But I didn't, couldn't be bothered. Pretty much like most people and the art world, they can't really be bothered. I don't blame them. Now you can counter that with the argument that Tate Modern is one of the most visited places in the museum world and really popular, but do we as a society bother much with art and galleries? I don't see much evidence on facebook. And in the recent Big Fat Quiz of the Year, Jimmy Carr asked the six contestants what the big thing was at the Turner Prize and not one of the 6 even hazarded a guess. (It was that dreadful bum and hands that folk were selfie-ing in front of.) Nobody was remotely interested. Art used to be THE thing I got most excited about. Now I just complain, mostly about contemporary art and it's lack of communication, and failure to replace the values it threw out with anything interesting. The baby went out with the bathwater.
So I was quite pleased when Mary suggested Wednesday's run was to be up the WoL to the Modern Art Gallery at Belford. Mainly because it would give me the chance to have had a rant about the Turner Prize (it came and went un-noticed apart from the golden bum) and hold up some old paintings and say LOOK look that is a painting!
2016 strikes again
We did the rubbish first then saw the permanent collection afterwards. Actually we did the cafe first which is pricey but quality. Nice cakes and bakes. This polythene and cotton wool "sculpture" is lamentable. Maybe referencing babies with pastel puke on floor and nappy like materials. Very poor. How does an artist like this get into art school never mind climb the gallery ladder. Who thinks this has any value? Stand up! be counted! tell me why this is here!
Spoiling the next room was this piece. If this were a work of literature, what would it be? Not a book, nor a chapter. More like a limerick and not a very good one. This is not by the nappy lady but an artist of well disguised abilities from Japan. Back to nappy lady for the next masterclass and this might have been titled Santa's Beard. I didn't look because I was quickly leaving the room. We are obviously no longer in the realm of judging this stuff by it's very limited aesthetic; who would say "I like the way this large spill of cotton wool is kind of piled up here and then teased out like a giant cat had ruffled it but then walked off." I'm making this sound more interesting than it was. So how do we interact with this? Grayson Perry said one test for the credibility of a work of art his tutor suggested was...
“If you want to test a work of art,” he said, “Throw it onto a rubbish dump. And if people walking by notice that it’s there and say “Oh what’s that artwork doing on that rubbish dump”, it’s passed.
I put the text relating to another piece up rather than the piece because the piece was painfully shit to look at. A bit of wire fence with some bits of brick balanced on it. There was a hole cut in the fencing material on the right hand side. What message was the artist conveying? Well as you can read above it was to allow the staff access to their office and helps in the installation of the piece. For me it had an air of banality but I might have been reading too much into it.
I'm guessing he is "exploring the relationship between individuals, matter and surrounding space." The only part of this I get is the surrounding space which would be much improved if he took his work to the nearest council tip to test it's veracity. Ok, hands up who wants this shite in their back garden? Actually if you were too lazy to weed the borders you could put those zinc sheets down and have flowers grow through the wee tabs. But really, you wouldn't ever go to the beach and choose such a drab selection of stones - even for a rock garden. Maybe there should be a place for stuff like this but it shouldn't be a gallery. A halfway house, somewhere between a therapists studio and the rubbish tip. A non-art gallery. Not for aesthetic consideration but for analysis. Tracey Emin would be a prime candidate as her work talks of the psyche but not the psyche of someone who has any particular gift for what I would call traditional values. (Excet maybe embroidery.) You can see from the crowds in the photos how many folk enjoy this turgid trash. Maybe they all came to the opening.
Upstairs life got better. Not quite as good as the cafe but better than the rock paper scissors downstairs. A lot of stuff they had up last time. Sometimes I felt the same about it, others I noticed for the first time. It was a relief not to have to read an a4 sheet to even begin to understand what a load of crap on the floor was hoping to represent.
Which is not to say you couldn't find rubbish here as well. Davros (Mary and I both felt he looked like the evil creator of the daleks) up there is titled Portrait of Father and he looks like the life and soul of the party.
You couldn't look at that small painting behind me without your eyes going very boggly and jumping out your face. I think she rather flooded the very limited op art market, and probably bought most of the masking tape sold in the 60s. It's not what you would call painterly but it would make a lively rug.
Didn't see this one last time. As an ex sign writer I was scrutinising this up close. Quite high level of craftsmanship (although the spacing isn't as finely tuned,) for what is not a very complex idea. Best thing about it was it was "acquired by exchange" through a Bequest. Oh the irony!
Quirky but not his most well known. This gallery has quite a lot of stuff like this: less well known work by well known names. But plenty of stuff worthy of a visit. I liked the Vuillard below, (though not enough to crop and straighten.) Painted with a sticky dry paint apparently on millboard. Doesn't that just make you want to get the paints out?
This, I heard a mother misinform her darling offspring, was a list of benefactors. Wrong. The 4,710 names in vinyl lettering in the stairwell are in fact an artwork by 1996 Turner Prize winner Douglas Gordon. It is one of the more engaging "idea works" I have seen. Actually the visual is trite and laborious and holds less interest than the phone book which is at least in alphabetical order and you don't need a pair of binoculars to read. However the notion it conjures with is human memory and frailties, how much you recall and how much is lost. The more I thought about this the more I liked the work, although not the look of it, just the idea. Another one for the non-art gallery. You might be more familiar with another of Gordon's works, 24 Hour Psycho which slows Hitchcock's Psycho down to last 24hrs. I haven't heard of anything he has done lately except perhaps drinking.
I seem to have forgotten to slag off the Turner Prize this year. It was pretty awful. On the upside they seem to have stopped giving nominations to video artists. (Which as we know is almost as easy an artform as photography!) Unfortunately the moment has come of those who collect uninteresting rubbish. And group it together, sometimes with painting because, well, nobody knows. It would not reflect well on a artist if they did all the work and left nothing for the audience to do but to admire the thing in the gallery. Hell no. There was a train (although I'm pretty sure the artist didn't make it); there was a bum (ditto - it was an idea borrowed from another artist and constructed by another person yet, from Mme Tussauds because artists don't actually have skills these days. Just ideas. And rubbish.) Oh and Ikea worktops left out in the sun. There'll be a website somewhere. I liked the train. It didn't win, nor the bum. Which was so bad it was awful. It was the pile of rubbish with attendant paintings I think that won. I won't dignify the winner by naming them.
On the way home we ran along Princes St. which is a bit of a challenge itself given the great unthinking hordes are out spending money at the behest of our capitalist overlords. I had hoped to visit Wojtek the Bear in the Gardens but he had been fenced in for biting off someone's rosette.
better class of beggar
Mate if you can afford a panart hang (can be over £1,000) can you loan me some money?
Look you've made nearly a pound!