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.
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