Monthly Archives: July 2007

Two Exhibitions: “Britain on Film” and Antony Gormley. July 2007.

The tube was closed. I took a bus instead, a long journey in, but I had time. A bendy bus, it took me through Stamford Hill, crowded with orthodox Jews leaving temple; they wore thick yarmulkes of fur, some of them protecting their hats from the heavy rain with specially moulded pieces of plastic. The area was a rich mixture of faiths and races: there were Turkish shops, polish shops, and Mormon and seventh day Adventist churches. Outside Seven Sisters tube station there was a revivalist choir giving it their all, and two guys with a microphone belting out bible readings. I think they were competing with each other. The leader of the choir started explaining how she had sinned, how she had lived in sin, and how she had found the light. People looked like they were interested in the sin, but less interested in the light. Most people were ignoring both the choir and the bible readers; two women waiting at the bus stop, wearing hijabs, seemed most interested.
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“Britain on Film”. July 2007.

I met my brother at Tate Britain; I actually wrote The Tate, because that is how I think of it.  In the main hall was Mark Wallinger’s entry for the Turner Prize, an installation based on the anti-war campaigners based in Parliament Sq.  It was curious – I agreed with the sentiments of banners and posters, but it seemed bereft of any creative spark.

We went to the photographic exhibition – Britain as captured on film.  It didn’t really grab me.  There were some interesting pictures individually, but the show as whole was too diffuse, too vague – it just didn’t hang together: there were too many photographers, too many topics, too broad an interest.  I wandered around, liking the pictures but disappointed with the whole.  There was some pretty neat software though, used to display albums – you could drag the photo to turn the page.  Nifty.

I was also appalled by the grammar on the various bits of blurb.  There were misplaced commas, verbs which didn’t agree with their subjects. It was just unprofessional.  I wanted to go along, scratching out the offending commas.  I must be turning into a grammar Nazi.

My brother and I spent a couple of hours walking through the picture halls.  There were so many photos.  Some of them seemed like scenes from our past – I expected to see myself in the corner of a picture, running through the street as a child or sweating at a gig.  But then a lot of the pictures seemed like a completely different world.

After a tasteless chocolate muffin and a coffee (how could anyone make a tasteless chocolate muffin? Where did they learn to remove the taste of chocolate?) we walked along the bank of the Thames, looking at the MI5 building and boats on the river.  We walked east; I was surprised to see Rodin’s Burghers of Calais on the grass outside the Houses of Parliament.  In Parliament Sq I stopped to photograph the peace camp.  Not surprisingly, it seemed much more vital, much more important than Wallinger’s art.  One of the protesters saw me waiting for the traffic to clear so I could take a photograph, and he turned so that I could read the signs hung around his body.  He waved as I lowered the camera and I gave him a thumbs up sign.