Have you ever heard of a human squash? A squash is a vegetable a bit like a pumpkin, but with a funnier shape. The Squash is also the name of an artwork by artist Anthea Hamilton.
Who is Anthea Hamilton and what is she famous for?
Born in London in 1978, Anthea Hamilton is famous for her big installations. She creates strange, surreal artworks that we can step into and wander around. She uses lots of different materials and techniques. Performance, sculpture, painting, video, fashion design … whatever works best to express her ideas.
She created her artwork The Squash in 2018 for the huge Duveen Galleries at the heart of Tate Britain.
Welcome to The Squash
Mysterious beings wearing squash costumes move slowly around the gallery. But the gallery doesn’t look like a normal gallery. Anthea Hamilton has covered the space with over 7000 white tiles so it looks like a swimming pool or massive bathroom.
When you enter The Squash you feel as if you are stepping into a weird and wonderful world of alien creatures.
The squash performers who take over the tiled space choose what to wear each day from seven outfits. Anthea Hamilton designed the outfits. The patterns and textures of squash and pumpkins inspired them.
Which of the outfits do you like best?
Where does Anthea Hamilton get her ideas from?
Vegetables seem an unlikely thing to be inspired by – but Anthea Hamilton said
I am interested in everyday things because we all know what they are
Her art is a bit like pop art. Pop artists in the 1960s used everyday things such as tins of soup and magazine adverts in their art. But Anthea Hamilton makes ordinary things seem extra-ordinary. She sometimes does this by making them really big. In her exhibition for the Turner Prize in 2016, she made a large bottom!
She also adds some surreal magic and humour. Whoever heard of a part human / part vegetable? As well as everyday things, Anthea Hamilton often uses photographs she has found to inspire her art. Her idea for The Squash came from an old photograph of a dance performance.
Come in and join in!
Anthea Hamilton wants us to enter her installations and react to them.
I make the work to be interacted with. I think a lot about the space around a piece as much as what happens inside of it
When you visit The Squash, you step into the artwork. Like the performers, you move around the space and move in and out of the sculptures. What sounds do feet make on the hard tiles? Is the tiled gallery echo-y like swimming baths? How quickly will the white tiles get dirty? Look how soft and colourful the squash performers are against the hard white walls and floor! All this is part of how you experience the world of The Squash.
What’s it all about?
So what is Anthea Hamilton’s work about? What does it mean? There is no easy or right answer. She wants us to decide for ourselves what it means. She says
If people understand it as a performative space for themselves, or if they choose to see it in a serious way, it’s their choice