Go See Martin Creed this Easter Weekend at the Hayward Gallery in Southbank before it's too late.
The Hayward Gallery has to be one of the most interesting stops at Southbank Gallery for Art. That's a big assertion competing against the Tate Modern also located there. The reason why I make this claim is because the kinds of shows at Hayward Gallery I've seen in the last year have been outstanding and sell-outs repeatedly. While Tate Modern is aimed at showing the context and histroy of contemporary art, I find that Hayward Gallery selects shows and produces an experience that is relevant to practioners of art. Tate has helped me with the contextual units of my course by teaching me about the relationships of art works and their history and position in time. Yet, Hayward shows have taught me about performance of setting up a show and what it means to carry a practice well after university experience.
Take for instance the latest solo show for Martin Creed. Scale, variety, contemporary, British, and relevant to practice for fine artists, graphic designers, photographers, context/curation courses, etc. There is scale, variety of media, and real cohesion of what a 'body of work' feels like. There is interactive play and there is a sense of visual study acorss the years. There are critical and contextual questions that drive Creed's making. This isn't about aesthetic pieces without context; the context is the relationship of work and working over a sequence.
It's taken me a while to understand the importance of the physcial act of 'working', putting your body/hands into motion. Thinking is essential, but there can be a tendency, for me at least, to slip into the conceptual elements of work so much that a body of work does not develop, and I am left with just a single artefact for my porfolio or assessment hand-in. However, the act of working allows you to develop conceptual understandings that are fundamental to strong ideas. By putting work into a project, you develop new concepts for form and design. This is an important lesson for anyone studying Communication Design courses who feel like they are in a rut.
For Final Year students preparing for degree shows, going to the Hayward Gallery for display research, don't get your hopes up. You won't get that much space to devote to your work at the UAL colleges, but at least you can learn from the masters on how to rethink where you might present your work. Sometimes a promiment white wall isn't the most clever location for your work. Martin Creed's protrusion pieces in brass work brilliantly in corner spaces, and he finds further bizarre places to display work like in the women's and men's toilets as seen above. You might miss it unless you have an eye for gallery labels.