A confession: I’d never been to the Tate Britain before this post. My Tate of choice was the Tate Modern. The Modern’s certainly sexier to look at from the outside. It’s in a better location, right by the Southbank. Britain has to make do with being not quite Pimlico and not quite Westminster, sulking alone on the other side of the river. Wedged between whitewashed terraced houses and blocks of boring identical flats.
Have I been wrong about poor, unloved Tate Britain all this time? Sadly I don’t have an answer for you. I’ve been round the whole damn thing, and I still don’t know.
Paintings are nice. However. How-ev-er. While Tate Britain is definitely pretty on the inside, I’m not sure all of this stuff counts as proper art. Some of the more experimental works looked… how shall I put this… a bit ‘phoned in’.
And as part of a special exhibition sponsored by BP, the piece de resistance is easy to find. This is Tracey Emin’s Unmade Bed from 1998.
I mean, come on. Is this art? Sod that. It’s a rumpled bed. The sheets haven’t been changed for nigh on 20 years. That’s not artistic license, that’s icky. Funnily enough, I tried not to get too close even with a security line around the bed.
There were other temporary exhibitions on, a massive contrast to the permanent galleries of paintings and sculptures. Vanilla and Concrete is about the juxtaposition of different textiles. It also sounds like a new Haagen-Dazs flavour.
This is a toe. A big toe, to be precise. If it wasn’t for the fact I know this is meant to be art, I’d suspect some kind of fungal nail infection. And someone’s clearly let that nail grow too long.
Speakers around the building played The Last Post, recorded on musical instruments which were damaged during the war. The changes in how the notes are played makes the tune nigh on unrecognisable. You’d have to know what it was meant to be to get the gist. Sounded a bit like the Clangers to me at first. And eventually it got to my ears and made me seasick. Yay.
The Tate Britain is a bit like the TARDIS, basically. It feels bigger on the inside, and it’s rammed with stuff. It’s also the kind of place you can’t make head nor tail of. The layout’s logical and confusing at the same time. If you stray from the main rooms you’ll never find your way back.
I’d say go and see if you’re able to make sense of it for yourself – as long as you’re not the type to get motion sickness.