The first time I visited The Tate Modern was in June this year, before I’d started studying with the OCA. The primary reason for my first visit was that my son is thinking about taking Art for one of his GCSE subjects and so it was more of a feeling of parental responsibility mixed with mild curiosity that prompted me to go. Since my initial visit I’ve returned twice, and every time I visit I get more out of it.
I had visited other galleries before but not many aimed at modern art in particular. I’ve been to The National Gallery many times, and although I don’t remember it well I know I’ve been to The Tate because I remember my surprise at seeing the size of The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse; I wasn’t expecting it to be so large. But for some reason the Tate Modern never really appealed to me, possibly because of what friends and family have said about it, and also it’s not situated in a part of London that I felt familiar with so visiting just felt like a hassle.
I don’t really know anything about art. Sometimes I’ve found visits to galleries really disappointing; seeing the Mona Lisa at The Louvre in May this year was frustrating as it took ages to find it, when I did finally find it I couldn’t get anywhere near it, it was smaller than I thought it would be, and to me (from a poor vantage point I’ll admit), it just wasn’t as impressive in the flesh as I’d been led to believe it would be. Meanwhile there seemed to be much more impressive (to me) art that was being largely ignored. So, I went into the Tate Modern not really knowing what to expect other than something different and in that respect I wasn’t disappointed. I really have to just take the work I’m seeing there at face value because I don’t have the tools to interpret it.
The art I saw in the Tate Modern was a lot more accessible than art I see in The National Gallery. It made me think a lot more, it made me ask questions, I felt the messages being communicated were easier to understand. I was talking to one of my tutors about it (not an OCA tutor, a music tutor) and he said ‘I’m not sure it’s all art’. Although there were things I took an immediate dislike to, I was surprised to come away with the idea that for me, it was all art. I suppose I thought I might really hate it, and I didn’t. And it was really refreshing to see art by females. I realise that although I see females represented in art, I don’t see art created by them and certainly I’m not used to seeing art that felt so directly relevant to me. I hadn’t realised how important this lack of representation was until I was faced with the opposite, and found that I was seeing things that I could understand and relate to. On that first visit I particularly liked the work of Louise Bourgeois. I was really disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to visit late without my son so that I could spend more time looking at her work. I also saw some work by a female performance artist that I really didn’t like. I don’t remember what her name was, and I wasn’t studying at the time and thought I hated it so didn’t pay enough attention to remember the name of the artist. But later, when I was thinking about staged images I’d like to create inspired by my first assignment, I was reminded of her work when I looked at my sketches so I have been influenced by her and will need to find out who she was.