Throwing Shapes

Shape Studio illustrated how young audiences and particularly gallery first-timers do have an instinctive connection with art, so long as the opportunities are there and all-importantly, accessible.

Tate Collective London recently collaborated with artist Joceline Howe to devise and deliver a peer-led aspect of Late at Tate, a regular event series that aims to attract new audiences specifically 18-25 years. Designed to be an informal and enjoyable learning experience, Late at Tate sees Tate Britain open its doors until 10pm on a Friday, with an exciting interdisciplinary programme of live music, workshops and performances programmed in response to Tate’s Collection displays and temporary exhibitions.

Tate Collective met with Joceline over 7 weeks to research, devise and plan Shape Studio, a live fashion studio inspired by the shapes and colours of constructivist artist Marlow Moss. Shape Studio invited the public to experiment with geometric props and costumes to create their own response to Moss’s works – Tate Collective were keen for participants to discover an exciting new artist and have fun with their friends in the process.


Marlow Moss BP Spotlight Display at Tate Britain

Searching for inspiration in the gallery, the group were collectively drawn to the work of Marlow Moss. Little known to most of us, Tate Collective were initially drawn to the striking geometry and bold textures of her paintings, reliefs and sculptures, and inspired by her daring maverick spirit after delving deeper. Jessye from Tate Collective London writes in her blog:

‘Moss was definitely going against the grain in the mid 1920s when she changed her name from Marjorie to Marlow, chopped her hair into a mannish crew cut and began wearing a man’s blazer and cravat. At a time where many women still couldn’t get the vote and gendered conformity was expected, Moss was a daringly obvious and excitingly proud lesbian artist.’

Moss, circa 1937 (c) Tate St Ives

Drawing on Moss’s graphic aesthetic, the group designed large shape props and black geometric grid compositions from cardboard sheets, covered in bright red, blue, yellow and metallic fabrics from her colour palette, for Late at Tate visitors to construct their own Moss-inspired image against a white backdrop, all captured by commissioned photographer Nicky Giraffe.

Shape Studio 16 (c) Nicky Giraffe

(c) Nicky Giraffe

Shape Studio 14 (c) Nicky Giraffe

(c) Nicky Giraffe



Shape Studio in full swing

Photos from the night were uploaded to the Tate Collectives Facebook page for people to view, share and tag photos, and Tate Collective created GIFs after the event to share with the wider social-sphere on Tumblr. Got to love a GIF!


Centrally located in Tate Britain’s Duveens (and just outside the Marlow Moss collection display), Tate Collective ran the Shape Studio show throughout the evening, taking visitors to the Marlow Moss display, stimulating conversation about Moss’s practice and helping individuals, friends and families arrange their shapes for the camera – and they were inundated. The response was incredibly receptive – over 200 people took part, many gallery first-timers, coming back with their friends, and visiting the Marlow Moss collection display next door for their own inspiration. To me, it illustrated how young audiences and particularly gallery first-timers do have an instinctive connection with art, so long as the opportunities are there and all-importantly, accessible.

Tate London is working towards a permanent core offer for young audiences – the Late at Tate series is set to form part of this offer by enabling a regular, high visibility platform for peer-led practice within the gallery in 2015. Watch this space!