…am recovering from a random, last-minute art gallery-packed day down in London!
The Serpentine Gallery
First, a long walk from Knightsbridge and through Hyde Park to the Serpentine Gallery to see Yoko Ono’s latest show ‘To the Light’ which opened yesterday. The exhibition features a variety of installations, films, photos and archive material – threaded together by an accompanying sound piece of bird cries and ambiguous heartbeats.
The central piece Amaze 1971 invites viewers to take their shoes off and lose themselves within a disorientating maze of clear perspex, which simultaneously serves the purpose of revealing the participants to the rest of the gallery. The installation seeks to reveal the viewer as the ‘viewed’, as the participant struggles through the space, unsure of whether they are about to hit a wall as subtle reflections confuse their sense of space. Finally, the lost viewer finds or ‘re-discovers’ themselves once more as their reflection is revealed in a small, cubic water well at the centre of the piece.
Elsewhere, the world distorts as the viewer encounters suggestive objects, such as a ladder leading up to a suspended magnifying glass. The seemingly overlooked soldiers’ helmets filled with jigsaw pieces of a blue sky also provide a sad testament – rather heartbreaking on reflection. Perhaps the lost blue skies can be found on the ‘Sky TV’ in another room where a plasma screen transports us to a flat, one-dimensional, filmed sky. Ono leaves a trail of suggestive notes here, telling us that the ceiling is, in fact, ‘the floor’ and the floor ‘is the ceiling’, or is it?
I also practically walked into Yoko Ono as she was being accompanied out of the Serpentine’s learning studio towards the new Pavilion – in preparation for her talk, in conversation with Waldemar Januszczak in the warm, dark, cork-filled, sensory pavilion designed by architects Herzog and de Meuron and artist-activist Ai Weiwei!
Then it was on to the Barbican’s current Bauhaus: Art as Life exhibition, an in-depth portrayal of the Bauhaus movement and manifesto – the UK’s biggest Bauhaus exhibition in over 40 years. At first slightly hesitant to enter a world of rigid architecture, geometry and colour theory I did, however, become quickly immersed. The Bauhaus vision of utopia is hopeful and appealing as creativity, imagination, play, celebration, community and shared identity are emphasised as key ideals in a movement that blossomed and then dissolved in the dawn of the Second World War. The path through the exhibition provided a comprehensive timeline of the Bauhaus movement, but the curated space, did not seem to capture enough of the playful, free spirit of the movement. This was to be found, instead, in the close examination of small archive photographs and photograms, prints, drawings and paintings.
After being properly immersed in the world of Bauhaus, it was a mad dash to the British Museum to the Art Fund Prize 2012 award ceremony! The two prize categories were The Art Fund Prize for Museums and Galleries – Museum of the Year 2012 and, also, The Clore Award for Museum Learning 2012.
And the winners were….
Museum of the Year 2012 – Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery (although I was rooting for and had my fingers crossed for the Hepworth, the team have achieved a tremendous amount over such a short space of time and were favourites to win).
Clore Award for Museum Learning 2012 – joint winners Leicestershire County Council Heritage & Arts Service – Held in the Hand and Touch Tables and also… the Whitworth Art Gallery/ Manchester Museum / Manchester Art Gallery with the Manchester Early Years Partnerships!! The early years initiative began over 5-6 years ago through the Creative Collaboration projects in Sure Start Children’s Centres and rippled out to the galleries which provide innovative sessions as part of a core offer for the early years, where ‘children lead the way’! It has all come a long way and our Mini Art Club session at Manchester Art Gallery will turn 50 next month – yes, that’s the 50th session!
To read more about the shortlists:
To hear/read about the winner of the Art Fund Prize 2012: