Blackpaint 442 – Barlow’s Faulty Towers, That Ad, Adrian and George


Phyllida Barlow; “Dock” at Tate Britain

There seems to be a lot of destruction about at Tate Britain lately; “Ruin Lust”, the present exhibition, for example, and the recent one on iconoclasm, ranging from Reformation church smashing to the Suffragettes, the IRA and Action artists.

barlow1

At first sight, Barlow’s work seems to fit in with this; as you come into the hall, the first thing you see is a collapsed heap of planks, beams and general rubble which looks as if it has just crashed to the ground.  In fact, the work seems to me to consist of 7 or 8 “units”, one of which is the collapsed heap; the others are:

  • a tower of beams from which a giant cardboard (?) roll or drum hangs;
  • another tower, topped by a bulging, squirming mass of ropes, stuffed bin bags, trunking and debris, threatening to topple over;
  • a sort of pyramidal  structure of interlocking, wooden or metal bench-like forms, one face of which is covered with painted panels in Guston colours (these panels face you through the arch from Caro’s red metal sculpture and are really effective from this view – try it);

barlow2

  • a tubular tower, a sort of Trajan’s Column of cardboard rolls, stuck together with brightly coloured crime-scene tape (shades of Isa Gensken);
  • another big erection of beams from which are suspended a number of huge boxes or trunks, great holes smashed in them, round the mouths of which, a polystyrene foam bubbles;
  • hanging from the ceiling, a strange, white, branching, basket-like structure a bit like Sarah Lucas’s stuffed sculptures or maybe a giant representation of a cell structure, like something that might hang above the escalator in the Science Museum.  Hanging from this, I think, three giant, unvarnished, wooden shield shapes.  I find these, the basket and the shields, to be a false note, not fitting with the rest of the installation.

So at second sight, not about destruction at all; more about things in flux, a process of becoming rather than being “complete” like the other works in the gallery.

I wondered about how she built it; she’s in her 70s, after all.  Obviously there was a team and machinery, but you somehow think things on this scale require a young, vigorous, ambitious, (reckless?) mind.  Did she do drawings?  Maybe it was more general idea and materials and then standing watching, shouting instructions: sort of “Bit more to left – hold it there, that’s good…. Now, tumble those ropes out a bit more…”   And how are these things commissioned?  does Tate have a list of artists it goes to, or do the artists approach the galleries with ideas?  This would apply to the Turbine Hall at TM too, of course.

Next time, “Ruin Lust” and the fantastic Richard Deacon exhibition.

Doreen Lawrence in the M&S advert

I think the presence of Baroness Lawrence in the M&S advert is problematic.  The company benefits from the association with someone like her, who has justly acquired a sort of proto-Mandela status, beyond criticism; there’s probably no payment involved, or she will be donating the money to a worthy cause – still, M&S is in the business of flogging clothes and will get increased profits, I expect.  Is it no different from Olympians advertising banks, or the Royals granting charters to private firms?  as far as I can see, there has been no criticism in the press of the ad, so maybe I’m out of step.  Those people who want the Baroness to stand as Labour candidate for Mayor of London will be wanting some of the same magic; someone beyond criticism to carry the flag.  What a coup that would be.

Sue Townsend

townsend

Adrian Mole is one of the great comic characters of English literature, alongside Pooter, another noted diarist; I was surprised, however, to come across, in Sunday’s Observer, an extract from Townsend’s book “Mr.Bevan’s Dream”, about trying to get an emergency benefit payment.  What surprised me was how gripping it was, how angry it made me and yet how fair and even-handed were her comments.  Who did it remind me of?  Ah yes, Orwell – and unlike George –  no criticism intended – Townsend wasn’t down there on a visit.

 Orwell, the Musical

orwell

Just been reading that Orwell’s newly published “Road to Wigan Pier” was delivered to him in the trenches where he was fighting with the Trotskyist POUM militia in the Spanish Civil War; surely it’s time somebody wrote “Orwell, the Musical” – Eton, Burma, the Hanging, Shooting an Elephant, dish-washing in Paris, tramping in London and the hopfields of Kent, Wigan Pier, fighting, wounded and fleeing for his life in Spain, the war commentaries and diary, Animal Farm, Jura, nearly drowning in the whirlpool, Nineteen Eighty-Four- must be enough here for loads of great stage-sets and les Mis-type anthems.  Come on, Lloyd-Webber and Cameron Mackintosh!

??????????

 Heaven Only Knows

Blackpaint

15.04.14

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: