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On Tuesday 4th November, the Art and Design, Interior Architecture and Interior Design courses took a research trip to the Tate Modern in London. The aims of this trip were to further our research, develop our critical skills, broaden our perspective on curation, display and professional practice.

1. Critical Response

My chosen exhibition to look at in more detail is The Weave of Textile Language created by Richard Tuttle. This exhibition is currently being shown in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern. The Turbine Hall is the main entrance in the Tate Modern and measures “5 metres high and 152 metres long” (http://www.tate.org.uk/about/who-we-are/history-of-tate). The museum itself is an old power station that was renovated in 1996 until its opening in 2000. Richard Tuttle is an American artist who has been active in the art world since the 1960’s. He works in mixed media and is both a collector and historian of textiles. Tuttle is fascinated by the process of weaving and he makes links between textile and langauge.

The Weave of Textile Language is a specially commissioned sculpture and the largest the Tuttle has ever made. Saying this he wants the viewer to look more at scale than the size. The piece shows a determined engagement in the space it occupies and this is a crucial element of Tuttle’s practice and is a key factor in all of his pieces. The installation incorporates three fabrics, all made in mills in Surat, India. These fabricators made using both natural and man-made fibres. This aims to achieve the textures and colours that have been specified by the artist.

The piece The Weave of Textile Language fills the entirety of the lower part of the hall making it easy to view from both the floor and the balcony. As we walked into the gallery the installation was immediately eyecatching, it took over the space and owned it. It reminded me in some ways of a spaceship or the rudder of a ship by having the two “wing” pieces and a centre piece. The fabric really brought this piece to life enlightening the dull timber, the colours chosen by the artist were strong and appealing to the eye. The yolk yellow bounced off the crimson and complemented it well regardless of the fact they are not complementary of each other.

In terms of the curation of the piece. I quickly noticed how well it had been done. The artwork itself could fill up the space but the way in which it is hung and how the lighting falls upon it is all down to a curatorial choice. The piece has been hung from the industrial roof of the Turbine Hall however because of the sheer size of this installation we can hardly see these fastenings. The light that falls on the piece is created by both artificial light from the high windows and from various spotlights placed around the entirety of the installation. Both sources of light help to enhance every angle and show all the different forms within. Due to the nature of the lighting, if we look at the installation from the balcony we can see the colours reflecting on to the floor giving us another dimension to this art.

I appreciated the fact that a small description had been shown at the beginning of the piece to help people get a real understanding of what they are viewing. I feel in any art piece this is an important factor as even for professionals, it is always crucial to have an artists explanation along with their work.

Even though this exhibition was  a bigger one in the interior of the Tate Modern, the artist is currently being shown in the Whitechapel Gallery. I felt the promotion and branding was aimed towards his major exhibition rather than his only piece being shown at the Tate. Personally I found this a bit disappointing because I thought that The Weave of Textile Language brought a lot to its space in the Tate and therefore feel it should have been advertised more outside of the establishment.

Personally I really appreciate Tuttle’s piece and the way he has used the space in the Turbine Hall. I enjoyed learning about his practice in terms of sourcing his materials and how he uses them in a piece. Although having carefully explored his piece, I am still posing the question of the third fabric as I could not see it on the installation. It would be interesting to find out more about this. I would also like to discover more about the artist in my self directed study as I think he could open up lots of resources for me in terms of both working with textile and also working in scale and installation.

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2. Artists and Designers 

1. Everyday (2009) Subodh Gupta – stainless steel on marble

This installation piece really caught my eye due to the fantastic silver colour it gave off. I was immediately drawn in and eager to discover more. I found out that this piece is made of stainless steel kitchen items and the tray that holds them represents a large plate. All the objects are placed to one side just as rice is in many Indian traditional meals. Gupta was born in a poor rural community and says the objects are the make up of everyday India. Gupta wishes to highlight there use in all social classes,’in this country, how many people use utensils but they starve because there is no food’.

I found the message of this piece enthralling  and a very interesting way of presenting an idea that seems very personal in the artists life. It is also an interesting piece culturally as I feel we can take away both visual and cultural elements. This piece is part of Energy and Process.

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2. Godret Stone (1958) – Seung-Taek Lee – Stone, Wood and Card

In this piece, stones are suspended at different heights and hung on a horizontal wooden bar which is attached to a white wall. Lee was interested in the way that the ‘work appeared to change the physical materiality of the stones.’ These are heavy objects but when hung in a certain way took on lightness.

These techniques are similar to those used in Korean weaving where stones are also attached to thread.

I really appreciate this piece for both  the ideas behind and its aesthetic appearance on the wall.  I think it is interesting how the artist has gathered ideas from his own culture and used them in a way that he finds exciting. This piece is also a part of Process and Energy.

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3. Morning (1926) – Dod Proctor – oil on canvas

When first looking at this piece, the first thing that caught my eye was the delicate technique and shape of the woman compared to some of the pieces surrounding her. I thought it was really interesting that realism was taking on the real form of a woman instead of a society version.

Proctor was working in realism when many modernist artists turned back to this style as part of post war renewal. It depicted an image of awakening and showed allusions to regeneration and stability after the war.

Morning was an enormously popular and won the picture of the year at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1927. It was then brought to the world through the Daily Mail.

This painting was shown as part of Poetry and Dreams.

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