Free Display

Spotlights

A series of regularly changing in-depth displays on specific artists or theme

Lubaina Himid, ‘Freedom and Change’ 1984
Lubaina Himid, Freedom and Change 1984 . Tate . © Lubaina Himid
Between the Two my Heart is Balanced

Lubaina Himid, Between the Two my Heart is Balanced  1991

Himid has alluded to the meaning of this work: 'Two women sit in a small boat tearing up navigation charts: how many died crossing the water ... can the past be replayed ... can the future be different'. During the early 1980s, she emerged as a key figure in the development of a consciously black art in Britain. This picture belongs to a group entitled 'Revenge', which proposed black women's voices as alternatives alongside those of white men. Here she reuses the title of an etching by the Victorian artist James Tissot, which shows a Highlander seated in a boat between two women, but focuses on the women. It is one of several paintings in which pairs of black women symbolically re-address history.

Gallery label, September 2004

© Lubaina Himid

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Collage for ‘Patio and Pavilion’ (the growth of plant forms)

Nigel Henderson, Collage for ‘Patio and Pavilion’ (the growth of plant forms)  1956

Henderson studied biology at Chelsea Polytechnic in the mid-1930s. During this time, he practised dissection, studied matter through a microscope and became fascinated by the layered structure of plant and animal tissues. This collage focuses on living organisms and their internal systems and intricate forms. It was shown with the adjacent work as part of an installation entitled Patio and Pavilion in 1956. Photographs of the installation can be seen in a showcase in this display.

Gallery label, December 2019

© Nigel Henderson Estate

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The Convalescent

Gwen John, The Convalescent  1918–19

As a woman in a career still largely dominated by men - including her successful brother Augustus – Gwen John had to struggle for recognition. Her contemplative studies of lone women in the calm surroundings of their home suggest intimacy and peace but also a simultaneous sadness. There is no narrative content, although this picture’s title, The Convalescent, suggests a way in which we might read the painting. Like much of Gwen John’s work, it relies rather on mood, atmosphere and closely toned harmonies of colour for emotional impact. Nothing is known about the model, although she appears in about fifty of Gwen John’s later paintings.

Gallery label, May 2007

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

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Entrance to a Lane

Graham Sutherland OM, Entrance to a Lane  1939

Though apparently abstract, the subject of this painting is a lane in Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales. Sutherland visited the area regularly between 1934 and 1946. By presenting what he observed in simplified forms, Sutherland felt he captured the ‘intellectual and emotional’ essence of the landscape. He was attracted to the contrasting qualities of the setting, which he described as ‘darkness and light - of decay and life’. In 1939, with the Second World War looming, finding refuge in this natural setting may have had particular significance.

Gallery label, January 2019

© Tate

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Highlights

Between the Two my Heart is Balanced
Lubaina Himid Between the Two my Heart is Balanced 1991
Collage for ‘Patio and Pavilion’ (the growth of plant forms)
Nigel Henderson Collage for ‘Patio and Pavilion’ (the growth of plant forms) 1956
The Convalescent
Gwen John The Convalescent 1918–19
Entrance to a Lane
Graham Sutherland OM Entrance to a Lane 1939