Monday, 10 June 2013

Summer Tate St.Ives , first and second looks.

First thoughts on the Summer 2013 show at Tate St.Ives.

The first room is all Marlow Moss. There's a book you can look at but it's out of print, not in the shop. A friend tells me it's quite possible Mondrian got his ideas from Moss, not the other way about. However, maybe he did it better? I don't like the awkward way some canvasses are attached to the frames or the way she has signed several on the front, spoiling the abstract design. Still it's great to see more than the usual one thing by her.

The curved gallery has some grey paintings, one with an attractive splodge of glitter by a woman called RH Quaytman.

Downstairs there are some lovely Hepworths, oddly paired with work by a woman who alters photos and produces old fashioned looking mildly amusing collages of women's hairstyles using shells etc. They are small. 
The blurb on the wall claims similarities in form and 'the spiritual' whatever that means, between Linder and Hepworth, which strikes me as ludicrous.
Presumably it is this artist called Linder who decided to mount the Hepworths on preposterously pompous huge geometrical plinths and hang a horrid white nylon curtain, like something in a temporary clinic, to hide the fantastic sea view. It is inelegant.

It's nice to see the Hepworth maquette with small marble if figures, made from a fireplace, but I want to  walk all round it and there isn't really room.
Hepworth figures with others seen through a window.

There's a ballet in the back room, choreographed by Linder and Tindell, filmed so that it focuses on certain partial views, whereas at a live ballet one chooses where to look so this film is rather frustratingly choosing  for us. I love ballet so I will be back to watch it.

In what sense can Linder be said to have a 'radical, feminist practice' as it says in the booklet? I cannot see any sign of it.

Back upstairs there is a space with three small harlequin designs, said to make 'a highly charged space' a description which makes no sense to me. It's the work of Gareth Jones.

In the next room there is a video by Nick Relph about tartan with lovely colours, overlapping images, and this takes my attention so I look forward to seeing it all through another day.
Next is a room about Heron  and Crysede and some letters he wrote home, textile designs, nice to see.

Last room. Audience participation, we can take up to ten pages photocopied from the artists's library. His name is Allen Ruppersberg. 
(Is it significant that the women artists conceal their gender by not having recognisably women's names?)
 Apparently the whole display , how the boxes are placed etc. was minutely planned and done.
 It's fun to take stuff and think why I am choosing it.  I notice a lot about women poets and also choose an image if the Taj Mahal because I have been there. I am seeking connections between things and with me. I like the idea, wish I'd thought of it.

So, first impressions. A tremendous mixture -the contemporary less than astounding, the old not so very impressive either, apart from the Hepworths, which are shown in a rather perverse way.

Second Look at Tate St. Ives Summer show.
I went in again partly to do some drawings to illustrate my blog.
However, I decided to take the tour. There was only one other person, a woman, and the tour giver was Vicky Leach, who had chosen to show us the four women artists in the show, which I was delighted about.
Moss had wealth but also had the luck to be rescued from alcoholic stupor in a Paris gutter by Netty Nijhoff, a journalist who introduced her to important folk and became her partner and nurturer. They were separated in the war but reunited in Lamorna afterwards.
However, I decided to take the tour. There was only one other person, a woman, and the tour giver was Vicky Leach, who had chosen to show us the four women artists in the show, which I was delighted about.

We spent quite a time in the Marlow Moss room. It seems she was a follower of Mondrian after all, one he met and encouraged. In Cornwall she had not been able to move in the Nicholson / Hepworth circles and probably was cold shouldered partly because she was a lesbian. She changed her name fro Marjorie to the less gendered Marlow and presented herself with a male styled persona.

3D construction by Marlow Moss

Giving the work more time and hearing about the life of the artist made me much more appreciative of her. I wondered if Gluck, another lesbian contemporary, had encouraged her use of frames from which the paintings stick out in relief, as I know Gluck developed a specific type of frame for herself.
Next we turned to RH Quaytman, born 1961, who hid her gender in case it stopped her career progression. It turns out what I saw as decorative surfaces have significance as post 9/11 American images full of references to the twin towers. I now saw the red,green,blue stripes as possible references to t.v. coverage and Vicky suggested the glitter, actually diamond dust, was a metaphor for us all being being stardust.

Lastly we turned to Hepworth , wondering if pregnancy and motherhood had been expressed when they occurred, and seeing possible references to Cornish giantesses. Linder had also changed her name to remove the female gender first name of Linda.
She had been a feminist performance artist, but none of us knew of this.
We agreed that Barbara's keeping her gender clear was more help to women's aspirations and also that we had learnt from and enjoyed the tour
Linder Ballet, drawn from the film.

Before that I saw whole of Linder's ballet video and enjoyed it whilst wondering why the dancers wore strange head pieces as if ready to spin on their heads, which did not happen. They were all very thin and pale with dark 70's style eye make up and men in dark costume, women in muted lemon, pink and brown with a subtle hint of animal print. They moved in complex ways, entwining and climbing over one another, and one amongst an audience seated on the floor, like anaemic, timid creatures from another galaxy, to live electric music a bit like the bbc electronic workshop, Dr Who, tubular bells shades of. The lighting cast long shadows and the overall effect was mesmerising and soothing. An attendant agreed with me that the time of the video, about 25 minutes, should be displayed, and had asked for this to be done along with a photo of Hepworth's 'Family of Man' which was said to have inspired it.

I returned to the video about tartan and fashion etc by Nick Relph. Again no time was given. There are three videos, blue, red and green, shown superimposed as a 'restless collage' which I loved for its rich colours, like succeeding screen prints with snatches of audible sound track and a quote about turning off the mind to just look and enjoy abstract visual qualities. Tartan was referred to as 'saying where it comes from.'
So, there was a link with the three colours in the earlier paintings by Moss and by Quaytman and the three coloured projections, between the fashion in the hairstyle photos and the video and the cloth in the tartan references and the Heron fabric design.
Still rather a baffling show as far as being cohesive goes.
I'd missed my chance to invade the 'family workshop space' by taking so long looking around this time, but it seems invidious to exclude lone people without children from enjoying the art materials.
If you go to see this show I strongly recommend taking a free tour to hear some background and slow yourself down enough to enjoy the art work. Listening and contributing to discussion I find triggers the brain cells into action.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry two of the drawings are repeated, I cannot get back into it to edit them.