Archive for Tate Gallery

British Folk Art, Tate Britain

Posted in Art, History, London, Museum, Sculpture with tags , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2014 by mysearchformagic

It’s hard to know how to define the term ‘Folk Art’, the subject of a current exhibition at London’s Tate Britain. It is often created by self-trained artists, although I should think many of its makers would not think of themselves as artists. Some of it could be described as ‘craft’ as opposed to ‘high art’, but many of the objects in the exhibition were created using incredible skill and effort. A number of the pieces on show were linked with local traditions and customs. Some of them are downright bizarre. But, as you have probably guessed, a fair few of them were also pretty magical.

A wall of shop signs in British Folk Art at Tate Britain

A wall of shop signs in British Folk Art at Tate Britain

The show gets off to a great start with an impressive yellow wall lined with a selection of shop signs of all shapes, sizes and dates. One takes the form of a giant shoe, fashioned and stitched perfectly from leather just like its normal-sized counterparts. A wonderfully enigmatic sun hangs at the top of the display, looking down on the gallery visitors with a hint of a smile.

A cockerel fashioned from mutton bones in British Folk Art, Tate Britain

A cockerel fashioned from mutton bones in British Folk Art, Tate Britain

Another highlight of British Folk Art is a beautiful life-size cockerel created out of mutton bones by French prisoners of war during the Napoleonic era. Each of its feathers is intricately and individually carved, transforming the most basic material into something lively and enchanting.

A straw effigy of King Alfred in British Folk Art, Tate Britain

A straw effigy of King Alfred in British Folk Art, Tate Britain

Definitely the most extraordinary object in the exhibition is this life-size straw effigy of King Alfred. Reminiscent of the terrifying final scene in cult classic The Wicker Man, it’s hard to get a sense of just how imposing and spooky this figure is without encountering it in person. All the more reason to check out British Folk Art at Tate Britain, and experience a branch of the arts that, despite generally being overlooked, often retains an ancient, even mystical sense of wonder.

An iron shop sign in the shape of a sun from British Folk Art, Tate Britain

An iron shop sign in the shape of a sun from British Folk Art, Tate Britain

Details on visiting British Folk Art can be found here.
All images copyright the Tate.

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Tintern Abbey Seen by Moonlight, Peter van Lerberghe

Posted in Art, Church, History, Museum, Ruins with tags , , , , , , , on May 5, 2014 by mysearchformagic

Today I’ve been to the Ruin Lust exhibition at London’s Tate Gallery. It was a bit of an odd hotch-potch to be honest, and despite its theme, was sadly lacking in magic.
I was however rather taken with this early 19th Century watercolour by Peter van Lerberghe from the Tate’s own collection. Created at a time when exploring romantic ruins was all the rage, the painting captures a group of brave tourists discovering the Gothic delights of Tintern Abbey by torchlight.

Tintern Abbey seen by Moonlight, 1802 by Peter van Lerberghe

Tintern Abbey seen by Moonlight, 1802 by Peter van Lerberghe

It all looks like great fun. I’d love to do it myself, although I might not be bold enough to teeter along the top of the ruins like some of these visitors. And to be honest, I don’t think Cadw, who now take care of the picturesque ruins of Tintern Abbey, would be very keen!