Friday, 15 May 2015
Tracey's Bed and other things at Tate Britain
But while you are there, think seriously and twice about going to the other current exhibitions. I was pretty underwhelmed by Sculpture Victorious because it is so much of a mishmash: partly about the Great Exhibition, party about sculpture in 1800s, but a bit all over the shop for me. It never does for me to enter an exhibition into a first room of sculpture of a monarch, Queen Victoria in this case. I'm Welsh. We don't do the royal family.
However I was astounded to learn that something like 6,000 elephants were slaughtered for their ivory every year to meet British demand alone in the mid-nineteenth century. The only good things to my jaded eye were a Byrne-Jones I have never before spied of Perseus and the Graeae (part-painting part-metal work, not exactly a sculpture), the Eric Gills and my favourite python-wrestling hero by Leighton.
Salt and Silver sounded promising, being as it is about early photography (salt paper prints) and the works are to be admired for technical achievement, but the subject matter is rather predictable and frankly dull, with one exception. The photographs from the Crimean War are worth a good look. I was especially taken with one of a cantiniere, who despite being in a campaign had time to lace her corset and pull in her perilously tiny waist.
The third exhibition, and yes, I did spent the best part of a day there, is also of photography - Nick Waplinton's collaboration with Alexander McQueen, no doubt timed to coincide with the block busting show at the V&A. I am a big fan of huge glossy prints and the space to enjoy them, but I was more than a little bemused by the fashion shot, plate, costume juxtposed (sic) by pictures of rubbish, literally and in close up, by which I mean plastic, broken glass, black bin liners and the like, all in sordid detail. It seemed a bit graduate show to me, but hey, make up your own mind.