Contemporary British installation artist Mike Nelson has transformed the grand spaces of the Duveen Galleries at the Tate Britain into ‘something between a sculpture court and an asset strippers’ warehouse.’
Carefully selecting objects from the post-war Britain that framed his childhood, visitors can walk between enormous knitting machines, upended telegraph poles, graffitied steel awnings and doors from an NHS hospital.
Nelson, who has twice been nominated for the Turner Prize, said arranging the items in the gallery “subtly shifts them from what they once were into sculpture, and then back again to what they are — examples of the machines and equipment left over from industry and infrastructure.”
He added: “The exhibition weaves this allusion with that of British history. It presents us with a vision of artefacts cannibalised from the last days of the industrial era in place of the treasures of empire that would normally adorn such halls.” [—]
The Guardian gave the exhibition a 5 star review, concluding:
There are the dead machines, so powerfully revived, so beautifully fashioned in their own right: sculptural in their torsions, curves and volumes.
There are the traces of those who worked them – the fingerprints and the scribbled numbers, the patina on crankshaft and handle, burnished with the workers’ daily touch.
Grinders, pumps, mills, drills and spindles, these creations were made to create what we ate and used and wore for so long, and perhaps even to mix the paints in the art around us at Tate Britain.
Every element is a sculpture in its own right, down to the smallest bulldog of a mechanism; together they form a unique monument to British history.
Here’s a selection of photos from my recent visit. The exhibition continues until 6th October 2019.
Tate Britain info