Tate Etc magazine issue 04 cover

Dear Henry Tate,

We know that you will immediately recognise the place, even if this photograph – which was taken during the Second World War – is trying to camouflage it. The picture shows a gardener tending a vegetable patch situated to the left of the current Millbank entrance to Tate Britain. At that time, every scrap of land was put to use as part of the war effort – and, as we can see, looked after with love and attention.

To coincide with A Picture of Britain at Tate Britain, we have asked a selection of people, including a wartime land girl, to talk about a favourite landscape image. A sense of place has often been an important conduit for an artist – the sea inspired Norman Wilkinson to create the ‘dazzle’ camouflage patterns which were then painted on ships to protect them from U-boats during both world wars , while the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake, Utah, was chosen by Robert Smithson for his earthwork Spiral Jetty, which has since become an iconic piece of twentieth-century art. The work is well known in art literature from various aerial pictures, but in Kenneth Baker’s article we get a fresh sense of it in the context of its current surroundings.

Frida Kahlo saw the world through images of herself, while Jeff Wall transforms his environment in and around Vancouver to create a new reality with his carefully manipulated photographs.

As we have shown in all our issues in the past year, the content of Tate Etc. continues to extend beyond the four Tates, as well as blending the historic, modern and contemporary. As John Ruskin believed, it is the inter-connectedness of art and society that matters – and we wish to reflect that within these and future pages. So for the occasion of our first anniversary, we are going to leave the home garden of the editorial office to have a presence at the 51st Venice Biennale in June. We hope it is the first of many excursions beyond the site of your original endeavours.

Bice Curiger and Simon Grant


Open Systems I
Christy Lange

The late 1960s saw a radical rethinking of the art object, with the emphasis shifting away from the static artwork to one that engaged more directly with the viewer, which led to an explosion of artistic methods that was to include film, video, documentation, performance and dance. Christy Lange explores aspects of this period.

Open Systems II
Anna Dezeuze

The late 1960s saw a radical rethinking of the art object through ‘Open Systems.’ Anna Dezeuze explores aspects of this period.

Jeff Wall
Sheena Wagstaff

Sheena Wagstaff travels to downtown Vancouver and discovers how the urban environment has found its way into the work of the acclaimed Canadian artist Jeff Wall

Joshua Reynolds
Paula Byrne

Forget today’s celebrity icons. Paula Byrne looks at the first ever media frenzy for young actress and lover of the Prince of Wales, Mary Robinson, painted by Joshua Reynolds. To Coleridge she was ‘a woman of undoubted genius’, and she became the most famous woman in Britain. Her story, along with that of a few of her contemporaries, finds parallels with our own age.

Roy R. Behrens

In 1896 the American artist Abbott H. Thayer published an article on how animals protected themselves with the use of graduated colours. However, he also believed nature was acting as artist. Roy Behrens charts the cultural history of camouflage and its impact on fashion, graphic design and art

Tracey Emin
The summer of love
Glenn O'Brien, Mary Woronov, Billy Name, Mark Boyle, Robert Wyatt, Ronald Nameth, Joshua White and Amalie R. Rothschild

During the 1960s, the light show became an important part of both the club and rock concert experience – no decent band could be without one. Glenn O’Brien introduces a cross-section of reminiscences from light-show technicians, performers, musicians, photographers, filmmakers and artists who were all there and feature in ‘Summer of Love’ at Tate Liverpool.

Christopher Turner

Christopher Turner explores how the study of colour by artists, writers and scientists has influenced our sense of the world.

Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty
Kenneth Baker

Robert Smithson’s vast earthwork Spiral Jetty 1970 became an instant icon of land art, partly thanks to iconic photography by Gianfranco Gorgoni, and recently resurfaced after being submerged under the Great Salt Lake. Smithson’s visual inspiration for this project was typically diverse – ranging from the molecular structure of salt to Constantin Brancusi’s abstract portrait of James Joyce, and a ‘Spiral Jetty Weekend’ invite allows Kenneth Baker to make a visit.

The changing landscape of Britain
Jonathon Porritt, Wim Wenders, Siobhan Davies, The Reverend Alan Walker, Richard A. Fortey, José Loosemore, Mark Avery, Michael Palin, Thomas Joshua Cooper, Rick Stein and David Matthews

Tate Etc. introduces eleven personal responses to artworks that reflect the changing face of a nation.

A Picture of Britain
Martin Herbert

Martin Herbert looks at the use of English landscape, from J B Priestley to Andrew Cross's film series An English Journey

Richard Deacon
Tony Cragg

Sculpture was historically the domain of the artist-worker, armed with hammer and chisel. Now the artist may use any material and any approach. Tony Cragg reflects on the changing role of the sculptor through the work of Richard Deacon.

Richard Holloway, Edward Allington, David Austen and Ben Faccini

Richard Holloway, Edward Allington, David Austen and Ben Faccini reflect on a work in the Tate collection

Francis Bacon
Mike Figgis

Artist and filmmaker Mike Figgis finds that a visit to Tate Britain is ‘like walking through a collective unconscious that gives a sense of intimacy’, and discovers ‘incredible beauty’ in the work of Francis Bacon and sketches by Mark Boyle

Behind the curtain
Paul Farley

In his fourth visit to the Tate archive, Paul Farley finds some resonant human remains

The Summer of Love II
Neil Mulholland

Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era at Tate Liverpool explores the psychedelic in the 1960s. Neil Mullholland explores the visual history of illusionism and psychedelia.