Went to Gateshead and Newcastle yesterday to see ~Flow, an installation floating on the Tyne that uses various electronic circuits and mechanical contrivances to turn the Tyne (it's turbidity, salinity, etc.) into sound. It takes just over an hour to get there from our house. We left it a bit late and it was touch and go when we arrived, not long before closing time, at the Quayside. ~Flow turned out to be moored on the Newcastle side of the river. We had parked on the Gateshead side only to find the Millennium Bridge raised to allow a sailing boat through.
Anyway, it wasn't long before they lowered the bridge so we were able to get across and see what was happening for ourselves. From the outside, with its water wheel, ~Flow looks like a cross between a Mississippi paddle boat and a garden shed. Inside, its creators have done for river-water what Hammer Horror did for the reanimation of human flesh. There are more than enough bottles, wires, cogs, levers, etc., to keep anyone whiling away the school holiday happy. It was well worth the visit. We drank it all in -metaphorically speaking- and retired, satisfied, to the Baltic Mill café.
There wasn't much on at the gallery there (although there are three exhibitions just about to open) other than an installation by Richard Rigg entitled "Lacuna". This takes the form of a shed half-filled with earth from a Scottish mountain. Mountain hut... Mountain in hut instead of hut in mountains... I can't say I felt that gripped. I would like to see the piano he'd modified so that all the notes played middle C though - only that wasn't being exhibited on this occasion.
On the way home I decided I under-rate myself as a visual artist. Anyone who wishes to view my installation, Garden Shed (2012) can do so by appointment. From the exterior it presents us with an ever-so-slightly rotten shed. The interior, however, presents us with a series of quasi-archaeological layers: rusty shears, sheets of black plastic, old buckets and empty plant pots address the issues of impermanence and alienation, the dichotomy between the desire to create and the need to survive... I could go on. Suffice to say, it has now taken on an aesthetic dimension which had, until now, eluded me.
I surprised myself. I think the new in art should be taken seriously. As Pound said, "make it new" (I'm sorry - that quote gets seriously overquoted). But then what is the new? Imitations of the new are old. Can one always spot the new when one sees it?
Also, I think I still have an echo of something Grayson Perry said ringing in my ears, to the effect that he was pleased to be a part of the 'modern art' world, but that he was concerned that many contemporary works of art were less interesting than the buildings they were exhibited in, relying on the milieu of the gallery space to confer the aura of an artwork upon them.
Talking of Grayson Perry, I've been glued to his current TV series All in the Best Possible Taste.
11 months ago