Yesterday I hopped on a train to London to meet my mum and celebrate her birthday. She was keen to go and see Watercolour at Tate Britain so we jumped on a tube to Pimlico to check it out. We decided to buy joint tickets to see Watercolour and Susan Hiller... an artist I'd actually never heard of but it made sense to take full advantage of being there and see both.
Watercolour was much better than the reviews seem to be saying, a hugely diverse range of stuff from cartography to war painting to abstract watercolours. I wasn't particularly bothered about seeing it but was actually pleasantly surprised and now have a new found appreciation for the medium. As my mum says, there's something beautifully dream-like and surreal about watercolour.
The painting below is 'The Blue Night, Venice' 1897 by Arthur Melville, possibly our favourite from the exhibition (aswell as Turner's stuff of course!)
So next we moved on to Susan Hiller and really were blown away by what we saw. For an artist who was at the height of her career during the 70s her work was extremely innovative and challenging for that time. Understandably quite controversial, I loved her take on the transience of the art world and her boldness at burning / cutting up / reworking her own paintings a year after their creation.
We were also astounded at the 'Witness' installation... a room eerily lit containing hundreds of speakers hanging on wires each transmitting a different voice relaying an alien encounter. The atmosphere achieved by this was powerful and really stopped us in our tracks. A stunning experience, not spiritual but most definitely surreal.
I have to say the thing that struck me the most about the Hiller exhibition, and my main reason for blogging today, was actually a tiny piece of text accompanying a work entitled '10 Months', I believe this piece of text to be an extract from her journal at the time and just really captures the notion of reading art - something I find very difficult to explain but she sums it up here so perfectly:
SEVEN / Knots and Knows, some NOT's & No's about art -
1. The subject matter of a work is not it's content
2. A works meaning is not necessarily the same as the 'intention' or 'purpose' of the artist
3. There is no distinction between 'reading' images and reading texts