Lower Sixth Students enjoyed an inspirational array of contemporary and modern art on a recent visit to Tate Modern.
Arriving in high spirits, we made the short walk from Southwark Bridge leaving Terry, our long-suffering mini bus driver to have a nap after the arduous drive through slow commuter traffic. We marvelled at the sheer size of the Turbine Hall and puzzled over the huge indoor fountain as it projected water from some unusual anatomical spigots. Slowly the students unravelled the political post-colonial irreverence of Kara Walker, “AH, ah…..” rippled through the group.
The quantum shift in artistic understanding started to take place around 10:45am, on entering Olafur Eliasson’s retrospective. We learnt about how a sculptor can work at the intersection of design, technology and art. How the pressing issues of climate change affects all people on the planet and how as young artists the students could find a way of navigating the social, political and cultural landscape through sculpture. We also got lost in a massive room of fog, played with a strange enormous crystal ball, laughed at each other in a psycho-chromatic haze, lost the ability to see any other colour than white and then sobered up with the aerial view of melting Icelandic glaciers. The show raised some important questions — several of the group had recently marched through London to protest climate change — and Eliasson’s exhibition started to open up the visual language of organising cultural change.
After a short “long lunch” we met again to take on the challenges of photography in the 20th Century. Dora Maar’s photographic work exposed the students to the use of collage, surrealism and darkroom processes. Her reportage images, shot between the wars, laid evidence to the shocking social shift across Europe during these years. A world lost to the advance of peace and European democracy. The students enjoyed the wide variety of this artists work, making drawn studies, written notes and absorbing the compositional structures so critical to her work.
Students returned back to school brimming with creative thought and a general feeling of having a truly fantastic gallery experience.