Turner Contemporary Margate
Sometimes we encounter a memorable experience which opens the mind to the potential of creativity. The artist has a responsibility to review the world from a different perspective: and then work with the utmost imagination to express their view of a situation, individual, or life moment in creation: a book, a photo, an abstract image, song, poem, painting or sculpture. However, the work has to have a potential to explode or captive. To explode is the opposite of capture, and when considering art, both words are valid expressions of viable and active creations. A creative mind must affect the mind of another human to such a degree, the life of the viewer is changed. Possibly forever.
I’m not writing of the shock tactics of a tent full of the artist’s possessions representing episodes of life. (an adolescents bedroom does this well). Or the shocking sculpture of half a cow in formaldehyde. (the slaughterhouse is full of swinging carcass’s awaiting the saw). I’m writing of the ability of an artist to create an artistic ‘piece’ where art and life meet in such a way that one aspect (art) is bound to affect the other (life).
I am not an artist, nor academic, nor genius. I write as an observer of life. There is no concern if no one has interest in my words. I write because I can, not for gain or fame. Today my words are focussed on a day at an exhibition. A beautifully created and well-conceived presentation. As a visitor, I could sense every aspect of the display. The curator, the staff, the building, the cafe, the art, the artists. All came together during my visit, as I climbed the thirteen steps, leading to the paving before the doors, how could I have expected to become so captivated with an exhibition?
My visit to The Turner Contemporary Gallery in the Kent sea town of Margate turned out to be one of the most memorable artistic experiences of my life. The simplicity of the exhibits would for a moment disguise the creative symbolism. And like the near-bye sea, they would soon draw me into a theatre of imaginations.
Perpetual Canon by Cornelia Parker – Friday 14 Sep 2018 – Sunday 17 Mar 2019
Perpetual Canon is an installation by Cornelia Parker RA. It is made up of sixty flattened instruments once belonging to a brass band. The artwork will be installed in Turner Contemporary’s Sunley Gallery which overlooks the North Sea.
The result is a magnificence which captures the imagination. Who played? How old? What tunes? Where? When? Why were the instruments given to the artist, did Cornelia ‘pay for’ or was she given the hapless tubes? Were they broken? Too old? No longer in tune?
And then you review the sixty flattened pieces. They become pieces of the artistic jigsaw. The hydraulic press erased the electroplated brass’s purpose. Never to be blown again, now art, not scrap metal. There is sadness, the murder of the sound instrument, to metamorphose into another visual art, from sound to visual:
I view the pressed bassoons, cornets, trumpets and trombones and wonder if Cornelia’s masterpiece demonstrates the madness of humankind?
Does this piece prove the ease with which humans destroy the functional, into pipe dream? Maybe, this is not what the artist desired to portray. However, in my mind, I asked: do we have the reasons for the damming of rivers to produce artificial light? The decimation of rainforests to rich man’s furniture, the land becomes grazing for the fat man’s beef? Sterile landscape atom bomb test site? Millions of miles of asphalt roadways, taking millions of people to nowhere for no reason? Plastic water bottle pollution is decimating the oceans and sea life. Man-unkind’s greed, destroying beauty and nature, for short-term satisfaction.
When a work of art opens the mind to the how and the why: and the art expands the mind into hundreds of parallels. It has succeeded. Perpetual Canon hits all the right notes.
Animals and Us – Friday 25 May – Sunday 30 Sep 2018
Animals & Us is a major exhibition exploring artists’ reflections on the relationship between humans and other animals. And yes, you have probably missed it! The presentation was an excellent blend of photography, sculpture, painting, videos and written comments.
The sadness of man’s cruelty and ignorance toward animals is snapped into close focus when we see the ‘google maps’ image of the Texan Cattle yards, which are protected by photographic bans. Having driven by a cattle railhead in Texas, I can vouchsafe for the inference of animal degradation involved in this aspect of the meat trade. There was a reference to other cruelties and also to the love and bonding between man and his pets.
Here again, the visitor had the vaults of their imagination opened. Art is like a key to expanded thought. It is not the splashing of paint on canvas or the ability to recreate a landscape or portrait to almost photographic reproduction. Art is the symbolic representation of the artist’s thoughts. Art can sometimes have the capacity to change another humans ideas, beliefs, morals. This exhibition achieved this with ease; it is rare to fulfil this artistic goal.
Artists featured: Cory Arcangel, Keith Arnatt, George Bernard Shaw, Joseph Beuys, William Burch, Marc Chagall, Marcus Coates, Mark Dion, Charlotte Dumas, Tracey Emin, Barry Flanagan, Laura Ford, Lucian Freud, Henri Gaudier Brzeska, Conradi Gesneri, Laura Gustafsson & Terike Haapoja, Paul Hazelton, Mishka Henner, Candida Höfer, Andy Holden, Marguerite Humeau, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Permindar Kaur, Laura Knight, Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, Stephen Melton, Alice Neel, Pablo Picasso, Kananginak Pootoogook, Beatrix Potter, Stephanie Quayle, Paula Rego, Michal Rovner, Khvay Samnang, Roelandt Savery, Raqib Shaw, Ernest Howard Shepard, Maria Sibylla, Shimabuku, Gilbert Soest, George Stubbs, Andy Warhol, William Wegman, JMW Turner.
The curator and staff of The Turner Contemporary in Margate produced a remarkable visitor experience. I will return in 2019 to enjoy another.
See You Soon