When you get to the edge of England it is sometimes nice to have Artifaction as well as Beachification: or is it the other way round? Tate St Ives is a case in point – Patrick Heron inside, Ben Nicholson roofs out, with rolling surf and golden yellow sand beckoning beyond. Oh - lovely SUMMER !
Now we have Margate –the Turner Contemporary: it's a gallery designed by David Chipperfield (Neues Museum Berlin) and newly opened by Tracey Emin April 2011. (‘old hat’ – but what the hell…). With a couple of relevant Turners on display + a smattering of Tracey’s neon wall one-liners, you might be forgiven for wondering whether it’s worth the journey out of London. But these cultural mini epicentres are all the rage now, giving cultural focus and landmark interest to otherwise tourist battered resorts such as Margate.
Usually they have great eateries (a relief from sand in sandwiches), and there is pleasure to be had in the change of mood in these new buildings: they ooze appetite with commitment, reverence and contemplation, social interaction – for Art (and eating) are supplying the new pilgrimage centres, with museums becoming the modern equivalent of churches. You can feel a palpable change of aura, a renewed spatial awareness and moment of chill or quiet from the urgency of Life. That’s how Tracey put it to me one day after I had just come back from seeing her work in Liverpool Cathedral. She has a point.
Tomorrow is the RA Summer Exhibition party …. A rollicking frolic with fizz and friends, I hope. This is a middle aged affair (most RA’s are over 60) and a rather indulgent opportunity to rub shoulders with the rich and famous while gorging oneself on delicious morsels. This year I am forgoing a new frock in order to buy buy BUY. Every picture has an immortal seal of approval from a panel of selectors (Royal Academicians) - from a staggering 12,000 entries only 2000 are chosen to be ‘hung’. This gives every picture a certain, possibly questionable, cachet, but a perceived status never the less. It is an opportunity to see a real mixed bag of contemporary art: prints, paintings, collage, sculpture and architecture. Prices range from £300 - £50,000. I recommend Chris Orr’s prints, which never fail to entertain: pictures of London and Life, and Antics. Pick up a free (while stocks last) leaflet on his recent exhibition entitled LithORRgraphy, which explained the art of chemical printing. Heath and Safety in Art Schools has almost killed litho and etching– but it takes a lot to quash Chris, and this leaflet is short and sweet, with all the relevant myths explained….
On the whole I prefer the idiot’s/children’s guides to Art which take about 5 minutes to read, and leave me enough time to form my own opinion. Too much wordage on the walls is one of my pet hates….All those people crowding around reading when they should be looking ….… didn’t anyone learn anything from the David Hockney show earlier in the year? In case you didn’t get it, it was a full scale installation about seeing the wonderful in the ordinary, his journey through Life doing so, with his eyes and mind wide open. With customary ease and consummate flourish he demonstrated what he felt about the arrival of Summer, the majesty of May and the Yosemite sublime using the Brushes App. on the iPad. Have a go - we’re all at it now! NM