Tacita Dean gallery activity

Tacita Dean, ‘The Roaring Forties: Seven Boards in Seven Days’ 1997
Tacita Dean
The Roaring Forties: Seven Boards in Seven Days 1997
© Tacita Dean, courtesy Frith Street Gallery, London and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York/Paris

A looking and discussing activity

Practical tips

Gallery: Tate Modern
Materials: No additional materials required, just gallery stools for comfort!
Preparation: Please contact us to check if the artworks will be on display when you plan to visit. Email visiting.modern@tate.org.uk


Organise the group into three smaller groups and spend five minutes on the following areas:

  • Ask the first group to decide why this artwork, Tacita Dean’s The Roaring Forties: Seven Boards in Seven Days 1997, is in a display entitled Material Gestures. What does this mean? If they need help with this, ask them to notice what sort of gestures are used in the artwork: big / small / gentle / vigorous etc.
  • Ask the second group to notice what materials are used.
  • Ask the third group to look at what the artwork is showing us. For example, is there a story to be told?

After five minutes reconvene and share ideas on the above.

  • It is important the group notice that chalk and blackboards have been used as the materials
  • Discuss together why Tacita Dean would choose such fragile materials
  • There are links between the ephemeral nature of these materials and the fragile aspect of us, as humans, here shown in the storyboards

Follow-up activity

Tacita Dean has acknowledged that she is influenced by Mark Rothko. You can also look at Rothko’s works and discuss the use of gestures in these paintings too.