Saturday 16 March 2024

El Anatsui - Behind the Red Moon - Tate Modern Turbine Hall, London

El Anatsui - The Red Moon

El Anatsui - Behind the Red Moon is the latest Hyundai Commission on show in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall, London. El Anatsui was born in Ghana and currently works in both Ghana and Nigeria. His monumental sculptures are made up of thousands of bottle tops and fragments.

As you enter the Turbine Hall, descending the ramp, the first of three sculptures greets you.  This is The Red Moon which, we are told, looks like a billowing sail.  The circular Red Blood Moon element within the sail is made of bottle tops...

El Anatsui - The Red Moon (detail)

The reverse side looks like a large yellow sail...

El Anatsui - The Red Moon (yellow side)

The symbolism of the sails was to bring to mind ships and the transportation of goods and people across the globe.  Sailors would also sometimes use the moon for navigational purposes.  During the Transatlantic Slave Trade, enslaved African peoples were taken across the ocean to the Americas where they were sold or traded for goods such as gold, sugar, spirits and other commodities.  The bottle tops used in the piece come from modern commodities rooted in colonial industries, thus El Anatsui hopes to expose the connected histories of Europe, Africa and America through the use of waste from industries built on colonial trade routes.

The next piece you come to is The World.  From underneath and from the main gallery side it just looks like a series of fragments of knitted wire or wire mesh but when viewed from a particular point on the bridge all the fragments line up to look like the world.  The circular nature of this piece echoes the circular moon in The Red Moon.

El Anatsui - The World

El Anatsui sees fragments as a symbol of renewal and restoration with the capacity to reform.

El Anatsui - The World

El Anatsui - The World

The final piece is The Wall.  This is the largest piece and like The Red Moon, is double sided...

El Anatsui - The Wall

The side you first encounter is largely black and trails on the floor in folds. El Anatsui sees the black as symbolising Africa and its diaspora with a potential for homecoming and return.

El Anatsui - The Wall (detail)

The reverse side is brighter in colour....

El Anatsui - The Wall 

El Anatsui - The Wall (detail)

El Anatsui - The Wall (detail)

El Anatsui - The Wall (detail)

El Anatsui - The Wall (detail)

El Anatsui sees walls as both structures that constrain and encircle but also that hide things.  In hiding things, he thinks this may provoke curiosity which could be harnessed to overcome the constraining nature of the walls.

He sees the black and multicoloured nature of The Wall as symbolising the clash of global cultures and the hybrid identities that result.

The Wall and The Red Moon look like large patchwork quilts made from recycled metal pieces that are stitched together with wire.  As such, they could be taken apart and reconstructed to create different installations.  They are fascinating.  The wall is particularly interesting as you can get close to it to see how it has been made and what it is made up of. Anatsui works with a large team of assistants who work together to assemble the sculptures.

This exhibition is on until 14 April 2024.  Go see - definitely worth visiting!  

Saturday 9 March 2024

Open Exhibition 2024 - The Old Parcels Office Artspace, Scarborough

Lynne Chapman - Ruby (detail)

Yesterday I went, with some friends, to see the third Open Exhibition at The Old Parcels Office Artspace in Scarborough.  Eighty works were selected from over 400, representing both established and emerging artists from across the North and further afield.  The exhibition closes tomorrow (Sunday 10 March 2024 - 11am to 4pm) so why not take a trip to Scarborough and take a look.  Here are some of my favourites...

Lynne Chapman's dress - Ruby, seemed awash with memories...

Lynne Chapman - Ruby 

Janine Baldwin - Melting III - was a glorious mixed media collage, which had won the Open 2024 2D prize...

Janine Baldwin - Melting III

Shirley Vauvelle's Beast and Blue Bird made from porcelain and driftwood also caught my attention...

Shirley Vauvelle - Beast and Blue Bird 

I loved both of Jon O'Connor's works - both acrylic and mixed media on a wood panel...

Jon O'Connor - Urbanism #1

Jon O'Connor - Power of the Vend

I liked the simplicity of Petra Ingham's House on the Hill - Purple & Yellow...

Petra Ingham - House on the Hill - Purple & Yellow 

I am always drawn to textile works, so apart from Lynne Chapman's Ruby there was also Linda Harvey's Middleport Wall, using stitched, printed and hand dyed fabrics...

Linda Harvey - Middleport Wall

Isobel Blockley's Lungs - breathing becomes difficult, utilising fabric, stitch, digital print and ink pencils...

Isobel Blockley - Lungs - breathing becomes difficult

Mary Whitehouse's Waste Age Coat made from waste wool remnants...

Mary Whitehouse - Waste Age Coat

and Shirani Bolle's You are not what you think which was a very vibrant punch needle piece using yarn, thread, sequins & beads on monks cloth... 

Shirani Bolle - You are not what you think (detail)

My final two choices are Louise Bass's Departure (acrylic on board)...

Louise Bass - Departure

and Lindsey Tyson's mixed media Roadworks 2...

Lindsey Tyson - Roadworks 2

It was great to look around the exhibition.  It would have been even better if there had been a little bit of info about each piece.  The Old Parcels Office Artspace is right by the railway station, in the carpark, so don't miss it!

Scarborough North Bay

Why not finish off your trip with a with a dip in the sea, a walk along the promenade, a trip round the castle, a visit to Anne Bronte's grave or some fish & chips!

Anne Bronte's Grave

Scarborough's a great day out!