Editors’ Letter

Earlier this summer, the photographer Ruth Ginika Ossai invited 16 members of London’s diasporic African community to Tate Modern to have their photographs taken. Each shot was carefully staged by Ruth, with backdrops and props selected to reflect the stories of the sitter. The project was a continuation of a rich and varied tradition of African studio photography, as well as a way to represent the distinct identity and history of each person. As one sitter, Olubunmi Enifeni, observed, ‘Our children often no longer speak our language or eat our food.’ Her portrait was an opportunity to ‘keep this culture alive’.

Ruth is one of 36 artists included in A World in Common, an expansive exhibition of contemporary African photography at Tate Modern. Olubunmi is one of the sitters, along with Oluwaseun Ademefun and Rasheedat Olarinoye, who appears on our three special covers made to celebrate the show.

Throughout this issue, artists come together to discuss how their life experiences have shaped their art. Tate Etc.’s own Figgy Guyver facilitated three conversations with nine artists included in Women in Revolt!, an exhibition at Tate Britain that will spotlight the disruptive work of more than 100 women artists who changed the face of British culture.

These women also kicked open doors for future generations of artists, among them Sarah Lucas, who sits down for a rare and exclusive interview with curator Dominique Heyse-Moore as she prepares for her career-spanning show at Tate Britain, while writer Philippa Snow offers a fresh take on the melding of sex, humour and violence in Sarah’s art. After all, as Philippa writes: ‘What is more delicious than a boundary being gleefully transgressed?’

‘Lots of sleepless nights, lots of drinking, lots of smoking, lots of intensity’, is how Musa Mayer characterises a prolific period in the life of her father, the painter Philip Guston, in a candid conversation about the things that occupied his mind and found form in his art. Elsewhere, we visit sculptor El Anatsui in Ghana for a sneak peek at his studio ahead of his Hyundai Commission for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

Finally, to mark the end of the summer, we return to school with a series of articles that put you back in the classroom.

Welcome back!

Tate Etc.


    Parental Guidance

    Zineb Sedira reflects on how childhood art classes and trips to the cinema with her father ignited a lifelong love …

    Breaking the Mould

    Artist Hicham Benohoud revisits the playfully subversive photographs that he made with his pupils in a Moroccan school

    Signs of the Times

    Gillian Wearing looks back at her series of photographs which took the pulse of early 1990s Britain

    Friendship Laid Bare

    Paul Rosano recalls an accidental life-modelling gig that resulted in many ‘extraordinary’ portraits

    Cold School

    Darren Moorcroft of the Woodland Trust calls for an antidote to the urban gloom captured in L.S. Lowry’s painting of …

    Reading Between the Lines

    Rebecca Solomon’s painting subtly challenges the inequality and prejudice that confined 19th-century women, writes Lola Okolosie

    'We Were the Peacocks'

    As Tate Liverpool prepares for a major refurbishment, Liverpool-born artists Chila Kumari Singh Burman and Linder reminisce about their experiences …

    Mari Katayama

    We talk to the artist about beauty, soft sculptures, and her self-portraits that are newly on display at Tate Modern

    Drawing a Crowd

    Susan Owens lingers over a painting by Ford Madox Brown in Tate Britain’s Pre-Raphaelite gallery and uncovers its secrets

    Strike a Pose: by Atong Atem, Hassan Hajjaj and Ruth Ginika Ossai

    Three of the most exciting photographers working today respond to four questions about their studio portraiture

    Burning Bright

    Gwen John’s taut, challenging self-portrait is no ordinary painting of a young woman, writes Lauren Elkin

    Transformations on a Canvas

    Ahead of a major exhibition at Tate Modern, Philip Guston’s daughter Musa Mayer talks to curator Michael Wellen about her …

    Building on Tradition

    Best known for his vast, cascading sculptures made from thousands of recycled bottle caps, El Anatsui will unveil his new …

    Having a Gas

    Sarah Lucas talks to curator Dominique Heyse-Moore about breeze blocks, the many uses of chairs, and eliciting a gut reaction

    An Ecstatic Joyride

    For more than 30 years, Sarah Lucas has been challenging our understanding of sex, class and gender through art that …

    Taste Etc: Olia Hercules

    Charred cabbage with sunflower seed cream

    Exercising the Imagination

    Richard Shillitoe studies a curious folder of children’s paintings found in the archive of the artist, writer and occultist Ithell …