Aquatopia At Tate, St Ives, Winter visit

Aquatopia conjours up the idea of an ‘other’ world, of everything water related and this was the essence of this latest exhibition at The Tate, St. Ives which explores how the deep is imagined by artists, writers and poets across time and cultures. An incredible 90% of the earths oceans remain unexplored, which has given rise to alien type imagined creatures, and a world occupied by sea maids and sirens.

It would be impossibe to give a step by step walk through, but to say it was full of interesting unusual pieces and objects with the expected drawings and paintings of the sea and its monster, including some small pieces of 19th century glass moulded into squid and other soft sea shapes and delicate shell engravings.

In contrast, there were quirky video installations, one of which was totally ridiculous and almost like watching kids TV, but ironically is what I remember the most. Says a lot about me I guess!

A total revelation was the skin of a porbeagle shark that had been removed and gilded inside and hung so you looked into it and was called ‘Relic’, so it’s not just me that was inspired by the use of gold leaf in this way.

My favourite artist was Wangechi Mutu, a contemporary African artist who makes mixed media art around the theme of women who have morphed into animals and machines and surreal warrior type creatures. For her women carry the mark of culture through language, marks etc more than men and her work was full of life and colour.

The Tate in St Ives is a magnificent building in a stunning location and I love it there, but and as some people have said ‘Its a bit up its own arse’, As you went round the eyes of some stewards were piercing, were unapproachable boarding on contemptuous, no photos are allowed and I felt like I had a bomb in my pocket which spoilt the experience somewhat.

In winter it’s an easy day trip.A stop off at a great new cafe just outside Wadebridge “Strong Adolfos”, a walk on Porthmeor beach where we found several Mermaids Purses and a quick lunch, we were home again by five.

The exhibition finishes on Sunday and the Tate is then closed until May for refurbishment. I’m hoping that with this comes a change in attitude and atmopshere but I somehow doubt it.

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