The Modern lens exhibition in Tate St Ives set the scene for the Young@Tate event, offering up a wide range of concepts to explore with young people visiting the gallery.
Inspired by Charlotte Perriand, Fernand Léger and Pierre Jeanneret’s walks in and around Paris, rich blue tape weaved through the gallery spaces, seeking alternative ways of exploring the collection of early surreal and often dream like photos. We take different paths in life, effecting our perception of the world around us. When this bearing is challenged, or questioned, subconscious thought is often the root cause of the direction headed. Do we discover more once lost?
With feet and mind now separate, participants could stumble into a Scandinavian knitting circle, led by Circuit member Hedda Kirkhus. The communal act brought together an eclectic mix of people in a shared experience, rarely felt in a sterile, white walled art institution. Thoughts, ideas and gossip thrived. Young, and old, found a skill they never knew they had. Galleries have the power to send the visitor deep within one’s own mind. We get lost exploring our chosen artist’s thoughts, but with the knitting circle a space was created to breath, and to share.
Elsewhere, the Bauhaus influenced photography collection offered a different aesthetic. The striking designs and teachings seem modern, even now. Geometric shape, simple form and utopian ideals helped develop a confident group of photographers, amongst many other practising artists. Iwao Yamawaki, Shikanosuke Yagaki and Kiyohiko Komura were driven to seek the abstract and surreal around them, utilising modern photographic equipment of the time. This led the Circuit team to create the #SurrealStIves hashtag, encouraging visitors to post their own photos via Instagram to an ever growing collection of surreal photos on the Tate Collective Instagram feed. With more and more of us having access to smart phones with cameras built-in, the process of taking a photo is changing. Do we value images in the same way now? Can we still find, capture and appreciate abstract form in the everyday? I guess we’ll have to see how the #SurrealStIves collection develops.
Photogram projections shot up above colourful Harry Callahan prints. These fluid creations arranged from acetates, feathers, negatives and all-together curious objects could be altered and re-arranged by anyone brave enough to. Moholy-Nagy’s photograms luckily stayed constant, so we could learn from them techniques in capturing 3D objects and light onto a two dimensional surface. The refreshing addition of colour reminded us the world is made of more than blacks, greys and whites.
Environmental Artist Greg Humphries created ‘Postcards From the Edge’ with visitors. Using medieval oak gall ink with quill pens, images that blend ancient and modern technology fused together. The ink making process mesmerised many as Greg became an alchemist working seemingly un-related ingredients into black poison. Surrounding the table of activity, works from GCSE pupils at HayleSchool mirrored the ideals of early abstract painter Wasilly Kandinsky. Presenting them at a larger scale and devoid of visual distraction breathed new life into the works that had previously only ever been seen on cluttered desks.
The Modern Lens collection seeks a new way of perceiving and understanding the world around us. Young@Tate mirrored this ideal, creating an environment for young people to explore the gallery in an equally new and refreshing experience. If you would like to find out more about the Circuit Programme, contact Sally via firstname.lastname@example.org
By Felix Gillies-Creasey from Tate Collective St Ives.