banal ball(s)

Writing in today’s Observer newspaper, Laura Cumming’s review followed the headline (at least in the print version) ‘These swings don’t mean a thing’ describing the Superflex installation in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern as ‘by far the worst Turbine Hall commission in the history of the Tate Modern’, and went on to suggest that, if she were Hyundai (who sponsored the commission), she’d ask for her ball back.

I am no art critic, but I wonder if her review missed part of the essential point of the Tate Modern? It is an open expansive space, much of which can be viewed freely. A space where those unfamiliar with art can have their eyes opened, their lives changed. The vast expanse of the Turbine Hall is indeed a challenging space for any artist to fill, no matter how sweeping their ambition or profound their talent.

In fairness, Ms. Cumming went on to make the obvious point that there is much else on show at the Tate Modern, including the superb work by Martin Puryear which lies at the heart of the magnificent Soul of a Nation show.

I’m an avid Guardian reader, the Observer too, and once worked for the BBC. But, the Tate Modern is for everyone, and I think especially for those who may be clueless about art. It serves a role not only to showcase but to educate, to inspire, and to delight.

The Superflex installation may well have been ball(s) and banal. But, if only a fraction of the crowds, having a ball on the swings, ventured up the escalators and wandered around the free exhibitions on display, if an even lesser fraction paid to see the Soul of a Nation, and if just a single individual left the Turbine Hall inspired to try their hand at something creative, then maybe Hyundai’s ballsy gamble may have paid off?

*All images made with Fujifilm X100F with fixed 23mm (35mm full frame equivalent) lens with edits applied in Lightroom CC and Analog Efex Pro 2 (wetplate filter #9)*


9 thoughts on “banal ball(s)

  1. I totally agree with your view on art and galleries, especially the idea of even one person finding inspiration for their own creativity. Galleries are “second homes” to me and most of the people I know, and it’s easy to forget how intimidating “art” can seem to many, many people. I love when artists and galleries reach out and try to make their work and their spaces welcoming.
    And your photos are fabulous btw. Just sayin.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Su both for taking the time to read my review of a review and your kind comments about my work. I am a passionate believer in making art accessible and not only for the privileged few. And if that means taking risks of ‘bad reviews’ then long may it continue. The Tate Modern has so very much to offer, and if it takes banality to get people through the door then bring it on in my view.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🙂 Yes; the Tate Modern is a brilliant place. Wish I wasn’t so far away!
        I don’t think I’d realised how intimidating galleries can seem to many people until I was involved in an outdoor sculpture exhibition (organising not exhibiting!). We found that around half of our visitors didn’t ever go to galleries, but would happily pay to walk around a park and look at — often quite challenging — art works. I have friends now with jobs in art outreach, and it’s such valuable work.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. What wonderful work, to promote art in that way, bravo! Valuable and inspirational. I agree that most people find the idea of a gallery intimidating, but the reality is quite different. To be able to wander and soak it all in, to observe in your own time, to be away from the hustle and bustle. So I applaud any attempt to bring this into more people’s lives.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I love that their jobs are funded by the local councils. I’d rather my rates were spent on art than CEO’s salaries. Having said that though, I suspect the choice is art versus libraries or something like that.

            Liked by 1 person

Share your thoughts?

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s