A taste of Tate Collective London

The Tate Collective Taster Project through the eyes of James Coppin

This years Tate Collective Taster Project ran for three days from the 27th – 29th July and took place at the Tate Modern and Tate Britain. It’s intended for those wanting to join Tate’s young persons’ group – Tate Collective London – and is free and open to all 15 to 21 year old’s.

I used to be a member of YAK (Young Art Kommunity) which is the young persons group for the art gallery Firstsite, in Colchester, Essex. As I was moving from Colchester to London for University, and as both groups are part of the Circuit programme, I asked about joining Tate Collective and was told about the Tate Collective Taster Project.


Day One

On the morning of the first day I decided I wanted to record my experience during the Taster Project, so I picked up an old camera I hadn’t used for some time, which explains the low quality of the first few minutes which improves as I figure out the settings. This video includes highlights of all the workshops and talks we took part in.

The day started with talks by current members of the Tate Collective, Christine and Tariq, about their experiences and all the events they’ve gotten to be a part of, this was a great way to start as it meant I had a clear idea of what I would be doing once I joined. They took us on a tour of one of the new spaces in the TM2 building and gave us a prompt and two questions:

‘Choose an artwork’ – I chose Ricardo Basbaum’s Capsules (NBP x me-you)

‘What did you like and dislike?’ – I liked this piece because cities are very busy places, and when you’re out and about too long, especially when you are introverted like me, you just want to be at home to have a rest.

‘Write down themes which come to mind’ – Themes of extrovert vs introvert, and how society is geared towards extroverts, which sometimes leads people who are introverted to feel excluded and feel uncomfortable in daily life.

We then met Laura who is the Curator of Young People’s Programmes and Rachel who is the Assistant Curator of Young People’s Programmes, who gave us background to their careers, this was something that many of the other talkers did throughout the three days which meant that we could see how and why people have got to where they are now.

We were taken around a second tour of Tate Modern, but we were shown a larger amount of the gallery spaces this time which meant we explored a larger section of art styles and forms. During this tour, Zenisha also gave us enlightening talks about why she likes certain pieces and the history behind them, this added layers to them that I otherwise wouldn’t have considered. Sadly, the audio quality I took of these talks was too poor to use.

Although probably not why you’d join Tate Collective, the lunch was amazing. Domino’s pizza was ordered as a one-off to Tate Modern, whilst myself and other vegans/people with allergies had a lovely Pret-A-Manger salad, which is seen in the video.

Lastly, we had a workshop with Nate Kitch who makes collages for newspapers and online, he showed us some of the Picasso works that the Tate currently has on display to inspire our own creations. I’m fairly pleased with the collage I made, but it was intended to explore how people are made out of their environment, their inspirations, and their idols, but I’m worried it might come across as critiquing women’s fashion, though this not being my intention. Nate Kitch was very helpful in this workshop and I like the style of humour in his work.


Day Two

Days Two and Three took place at Tate Britain, which houses Tate’s collections from further back than the Modern, as well as a few more contemporary pieces and the Turner Prize. I’d never visited Tate Britain before and whilst I’m not as interested in traditional paintings as I am contemporary art, I loved the building and I soon found many art pieces to fall in love with.

We began the day in the Taylor Digital Studio, which is a newly built space for exactly what the title describes, it’s a very cosy space to work in with sofa’s to one side, computers to the other, and round tables with chairs in the middle. Collective members Tara and Solomon did a similar talk, telling us about their journey with Tate Collective, which was interesting as it was different to Tariq and Christine’s.

Later, we heard from Mikei Hall who is the Senior Art Handling Technician at Tate Britain, I enjoyed this because he explained how he’d got the job and what challenges he faces everyday in helping artists realise their work in the spaces of the gallery. This isn’t a job I’d previous thought much about doing but it inspired an interest in me.

He took us through artworks and asked us about what we thing the challenges a Handling Technician would have to consider when moving specific artworks to the gallery.

After another lovely lunch, I had the same Pret salad whilst everyone else had food from the Tate Britain Cafe, we were instructed by fashion designer Claire Barrow to take inspiration from a painting in the gallery to create a fashion show type ensemble and take a photo of the results.


Day Three

The final day also took place in Tate Britain, and by this point I was really warming to the place.

Two more Tate Collective members, Sam and Decarla, did another overview of their time at Tate. I haven’t included these talks in the videos because personally I’d be anxious enough giving a talk, without someone filming it, but each of their journeys were different and interesting to hear.

Curator Contemporary British Art at Tate Britain, Linsey Young, talked about her journey, along with her route to the gallery being less direct as she originally started working in Scotland where she is from, and then eventually moving to London to work at Tate.

Fashion designer Sadie Clayton explained why she makes show piece fashion out of copper buckles, and how she enjoys working with the malleable material. We then experimented with creating our own copper jewellery, which after a bad start creating a very bland copper bracelet, I created a spiral necklace which was a great souvenir and extremely satisfying to make.

After this we met back in the Taylor Digital Studio and got the chance to feed back to Laura, Rachel, and Shan about our experience across the three days.

For me, this project was a fun and engaging way to learn about what Tate Collective does, and what I will be able to do with them for my time in London. So far with Tate Collective I’ve helped to plan November’s Loud Tate, which takes place on Saturday 12th November, and assist in social media planning for the 2016 Turner Prize. The opportunities Tate Collective is opening up to me as a new creative are so helpful for me and my career, as well as that I’ve been able to make great friends and have a place to go in a city that’s new to me.

This video also contains a lot of footage of Pokémon Go, because that was a thing that blew up at the time this was filmed, and it seemed important.


James Coppin is a new member of Tate Collective London and is currently studying Film and TV Production at the University of Greenwich. You can find more of his writing and videos at jamescoppin.tumblr.com and youtube.com/reallysmallfrisby

All music by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License