Monday, 16 October 2017

Rebecca Warren at Tate St.Ives 2017

Rebecca Warren has the honour of being the first artist to show in the large new gallery at the Tate St Ives until January.
Would Barbara Hepworth approve?

Finding the room dotted with lumpy bumpy glutinous objects reminded me of recently seeing bronzes made in the Bronze Age by the Nuraghic people in Sardinia. 
I wasn't reminded of their beautifully made detailed yet simple forms of warriors and boats that are displayed so well in Caglieri archaeological museum, but of the crass, badly made feeble approximations offered in the museum shop.

Some of Rebecca Warren's work looks as if she took a Giacometti and dipped it repeatedly into glue.

Other work is precarious looking, bolted into the floor and its solid bronze construction covered in thick lumpy paint. 

I asked a young woman attendant how the artist can afford to use large quantities of bronze and was told it wasn't that expensive, which is not my experience when enquiring about casting a small dancer I made first in clay. To be sure this artist hasn't got any complex undercut forms so the molds could be easy to construct but the sheer quantity of metal would cost quite a lot.

The attendant also told me that the 'snowman with twig and pompom' presented on a wheeled platform and made of unfired clay was included by Laura Smith the curator to show how Rebecca Warren felt oppressed by unhelpful tutors at college. Unfortunately the label indicates nothing of this and word of this being an object of outrageous incompetence lacking all merit had already reached me via one of St.Ives gallery owners.

The gallery ceiling, quite a complicated construction with many small lights, had already impressed me as interesting and really more enticing than the sculptures. The size of the room is marvellous, although sadly acoustically it's as boomy and difficult to speak and be heard in as the other rooms with only the small carpeted shoes-off space by the cafe offering hope to musicians and speakers or film makers. The largely blank walls make a great background for photos of people, bringing out the subtle variety of their shapes in contrast to the sculpture.

In the Guardian guide it says of these works, 'A slobbering, molten carnality pervades everything this gutsy artist makes.'
I certainly agree with the first two adjectives.
I can't see Hepworth thinking it's a fitting exhibition to follow her heritage. It is the opposite of her work in its blobby bulbous messiness  but then who to suggest would have been better?

There must be work out there in three dimensions by a woman, Cornelia Parker? but we have seen a lot of her. As so often I am left wondering how the artist has received such recognition and why and believing surely that there is more lively, relevant and surprising sculpture waiting for an opportunity. Please.


  1. Spelling error, its mould not mold.

  2. Great piece Mary and is even more 'accessible' with the photos!

  3. I agree Mary. I thought Tate would have shown something great for the first exhibition in this long awaited space, not these boring lumps of rubbish.