In this weekend's Sunday Times Magazine, celebrities from Sarah Jessica Parker to Damien Hirst chose their favourite Tate works, ahead of Tate Britain's grand reopening next week. In this extract, a few of them reveal what keeps them coming back...
on Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion by Francis Bacon
I can’t describe how influential this painting, and all of Bacon’s work, is to me; it sparked my desire to make art. Bacon said that his excitement at looking at Titian and Velázquez didn’t come from the paintings themselves, but from their ability to unlock valves of sensation, which could return him to life more violently. This is how I feel about Three Studies.
on Newton by William Blake
Blake divided opinion: he was called a genius, a loony, and during the modernist movement, even a prophet. I’m now part of Britain’s cooking establishment, but I had years of being told that what I was doing wasn’t cooking… The Tate is as important to Britain as Big Ben or Buckingham Palace. I believe it’s one of the most important cultural assets we have.
on No Woman, No Cry by Chris Ofili
I was 14 when Stephen [Lawrence] was killed in April 1993. It was a devastating eye-opener to the evil that existed in my community. It happened at a bus stop very close to my friend’s house… In spite of this, Ofili managed to create something so positive and beautiful: I believe the woman to be Stephen’s mother. This piece is an incredible symbol of strength and her perseverance to find the truth.
Sarah Jessica Parker
on The Girl at the Gate by Sir George Clausen
I have a routine when I arrive in London: I drop my bags off and say to anyone who is with me: ‘Wash your face, brush your teeth, I’ll meet you in the lobby, and we’re going to the Tate!’ The first time I visited, I was gobsmacked by what they had on their walls. Now, even if I’m exhausted, I’ll make a point of going… I respond to pieces that depict what the painter sees, without any pretence of objectivity.
on Norham Castle, Sunrise by J.M.W. Turner
Turner’s paintings are so contemplative – they allow your imagination to run riot. This is a painting of Norham Castle in Northumberland, but for me it conjures up nostalgia for my childhood in Bridgend, South Wales, where he painted Transept of Ewenny Priory.
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