Highlights of the Tate Modern

By Iris Campbell

Being in London, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the appreciation of art: and whilst there are many galleries, many would argue that the Tate Modern prevails. The year 11 art students travelled to the Tate last week in order to explore their permanent exhibits, in all areas of fine art, textiles, sculpture and photography. There are hundreds of contemporary artists from around the world housed in the gallery, the building itself being a renovated brutalist power station; whether it be at level 9 or level 1, there is something for all to find inspiration and creativity. 

One of the most interesting pieces on display at the moment is ‘Shibboleth IV’ (2007) by Doris Salcedo. It depicts the Tate’s ground floor, with a gaping crack through the middle – as if struck by some natural disaster. The term ‘shibboleth’ refers to a word, phrase or custom used to determine whether an individual belongs to a particular region; in this way, the artist is attempting to communicate the damage caused by both cultural and geological exclusion, and the culture of intolerance within the art world that ultimately leads to the marginalisation of those outside Western Culture. 

As well as this, amongst rooms of textiles and both unnatural and natural landscapes, there is a room dedicated to the feminist artist movement Guerilla Girls. Dedicated to fighting racism and sexism in the art world, their work is increasingly relevant and prominent today: they employ the use of billboards, posters and lectures in order to ‘culture jam’, utilising guerrilla tactics in the form of surprise appearances and exhibitions. Aside from this, there are endless options to find creativity within the gallery, moving away from the expected and into the realms of the unexpected – seen within artists’ work such as Maggi Hambling, David Wojnarowicz, Bridget Riley and more. The students on the trip found artists regarding their own inspirations and took pictures in order to fill their sketchbooks.

There is even more to be discovered at Tate Britain as well: Rachel Jones’ ‘lick your teeth, they so clutch’ (2020) is a colourful textile-inspired landscape-format painting in oil stick on canvas, in display in the ‘Modern and Contemporary British Art: The State We’re In’ exhibit. The Tate Britain offers a five-century timeline of priceless British art, spanning from Francis Bacon to Aubrey Williams to artists in their twenties, exhibiting art and photographs such as Rene Matić’s ‘Chiddy Doing Rene’s Hair’ (2019).  Moving onwards from the Tate, the Barbican is offering a new exhibition diving into the evolution of ecofeminism – ‘Re/Sisters: A Lens on Gender and Ecology’. It brings together nearly 250 works of photography, film, performance art and installation all created by women all over the world since the 1960s. The title ‘Re/Sisters’ is a play on words highlighting the array of ways women resist and protest: this is shown in various photographs of women protesting against climate change and natural disaster. The exhibit itself aims to advocate for ‘empowerment in the face of destruction’, something that all people can rally behind. 

Art in all forms is present around us and boasts endless opportunities for artistry: we all need to do our best to take advantage of it.

Posted in Arts & Culture, News.