Patricia by Patricia

Patricia by Patricia
Patricia by Patricia

Friday, August 29, 2014

London Journal 1: Tate Britain Folk Art

Hello friends and colleagues,

We are in London for 6 weeks and I am going to post these occasional reports on the food we eat and art that we seeing during the trip. If you stumble upon this blog and want to receive regular notices of postings, make sure and enter your email address near the top right.

We are indulging in jet lag and starting to slow down from the hectic pace of life connected with the San Diego Visual Arts Network. I actually have time to read a book and check out some art videos online. What is this strange feeling: OMG, I am relaxed!

Our first night out was at a local gastro pub called the Prince Alfred which has a delightful dinner room, the Formosa. We are staying in a lovely flat loaned by dear friends near Maida Vale and the Warwick Avenue underground station on the Bakerloo line. Our own flat is rented out and is on the south side of London, so this is a whole new experience for us.

Lanterns at Formosa which remind me of commercial versions of William Lesley's work

A unusual sparking wine from the Langedoc region of France using sauvignon grapes

Watermelon gazpacho with feta crumbles and the tang of vinegar

Bangers and mash i.e. pork and apple sausage for Darwin and I had scallops with a yellow tomato sauce and chorizo garnish

Opps, all that is left of the sticky toffee pudding, yummy.


Tate Britain presents the first major survey of British Folk Art. The exhibition has sourced what they call "important" works from the length and breadth of the country, gathering over 100 paintings, textiles, sculptures and rare objects. The show is all historical with no contemporary works. We saw lots of naive painting like Alfred Wallis's ships, needlework tapestry, by Mary Linwood,  a few quilts, large trade signs sculptures, ship figureheads. little figures made from scrapes of fabric by George Smart, bead encrusted "remember me" pillows and lots more. Although curated into mini collections of these objects, you have the feeling the works were selected from a large antique store. But on display at the Tate Britain they attempted to be charged with the label of high art. Emphasis is on form, color and medium as they are taken out of their context. I don't draw the distinction about what is high and low art, but this seemed a bit forced and overstated  in the little free brochure about this exhibition. All these types of folk art works can be seen at the Victoria and Albert Museum where they are just as special.  

Small object made large to use as signs in front of trade shops

Tin and bone chicken made by an Englishman while in a French prison

Ship figurehead

Very large  figurehead maybe for Ali Baba's ship (?) but actually for the HMS Calcutta in Mumbai in 1831
These suits covered with strips of newspaper predates Nick Cave and reminds me of The Mascot series by Brian Dick one of our SD Art Prize recipient


You also see the Phyllida Barstow installation in the central hall which is very much what we expect from the Tate Modern. Very, very large scale works that are rough and ready, living in this elegant architecturally rich interior. The contrast is startling. But it seems like the Tate Britain has lost its way a bit. I am not so sure of the brand anymore. I know it is all British, so I guess it is a way to see all that Britain has to offer in visual art in one stop. 


Phyllida Barstow in the great hall





The most impressive thing about this visit was the new staircase down to the lower floors. It was exciting to see the shapes and flow and it fit perfectly into the space. There is a whole new front room as well, with modern light fixtures and it is almost like it has become slightly more American, a bit too clean and tidy, and I miss the old slightly yellowing and warm feeling of space as I remember it. 







We followed this show with an extremely elegant lunch at the Whistler Restaurant at the Tate, named after the murals that cover all four walls of the room. Not cheap, but such a refined and truly English experience. I had a the Rabbit turnover with wonderful pickled vegetables. The table split a chocolate fondant which is like our chocolate decadent serve hot which oozes when you have the first bite.

Whistler Mural

Stephen Jones and my husband Darwin, mural in the background

Rabbit Turnover and Pickled Vegetables

Chocolate fondant pre-ooze and vanilla ice cream, not clotted or double...see how American they have become


Please excuse any misspelling or typos. This set of blogs is not being proofed by the usual set of wonderful eagle eyes that normally scan my words.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic. Have loads of fun Darwin and Patricia. The spiral reminds me of the golden spiral. :)

    ReplyDelete

Your comment will be reviewed. Thank you for writing.