Monster Chetwynd, ‘Crazy Bat Lady’ 2018
Monster Chetwynd, Crazy Bat Lady 2018 . Tate . © Monster Chetwynd

Room 12 in Walk Through British Art

60 years

12 rooms in Walk Through British Art

1/30
Art in 60 years

Pauline Bunny

© Sarah Lucas

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Sarah Lucas
Pauline Bunny
1997

This floppy figure relates to ‘bunny girl’ waitresses at Playboy clubs, whose uniform involves stockings and rabbit ears. Lucas’s version undermines any sense of glamour. It was originally exhibited with seven similar figures arranged around a snooker table. Their dangling limbs suggested powerless femininity, while the snooker table stood for masculine demonstrations of skill. Lucas draws on the language and imagery of her working-class London background to challenge the ‘male gaze’ that views merely women as sexual objects.

Gallery label, May 2019

Mother Tongue

© Zineb Sedira

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Zineb Sedira
Mother Tongue
2002

In Mother Tongue the artist, her mother and her daughter try to exchange childhood memories in their native languages: French, Arabic and English. Sedira was born in Paris to Algerian parents, and moved to London to study art, where her daughter was born. The work reflects on storytelling as a way to preserve cultural identity across generations. It underscores the difficulty of maintaining a shared heritage across national and linguistic divides and acknowledges the complexity of identity.

Gallery label, May 2019

Achæan

© Bridget Riley 2020. All rights reserved.

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Bridget Riley
Achæan
1981

Riley is a leading figure of op art – short for optical art. Her paintings use geometric shapes and colour to trick the eye and explore the nature of perception. She made Achæan after visiting Egypt in 1979. Her experience there led her to intensify the colours in her painting. Riley developed what she called her ‘Egyptian palette’, inspired by ancient Egyptian tomb paintings and the local landscape. The simplicity of Riley’s striped composition allows her colours to establish the painting’s structure.

Gallery label, May 2019

Belshazzar’s Feast, the Writing on Your Wall

© Susan Hiller

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Susan Hiller
Belshazzar’s Feast, the Writing on Your Wall
1983–4

This work was prompted by reports of apparitions appearing on television screens after broadcasting ended, before 24-hour transmission. According to Hiller, the people who experienced this were ‘using television in the way that people used to use their fires’ to ’get ideas, see shapes’ and stimulate ‘imagination, creativity, even prophecy’. The title refers to the biblical account of mysterious signs appearing on a wall.

Gallery label, May 2019

2016

© Maggi Hambling. All Rights Reserved 2020 / Bridgeman Images

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Maggi Hambling
2016
2016

2016 depicts a boat sinking below the surface of the ocean. The seascape viewed from above mimics a photograph captured from a hovering press helicopter. Hambling painted this work in response to media images of asylum seekers drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. ‘I kept seeing pictures… Boats were being abandoned by the traffickers and left to drift and disappear,’ she recalled. Hambling made the work over the course of 2016.

Gallery label, May 2019

I Could Feel You

© Tracey Emin

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Tracey Emin
I Could Feel You
2014

In this drawing Emin examines her relationship with her own body by looking at how the (female) body changes over time. Throughout her career, Emin has exposed aspects of her own, often intimate, experience in a way that is vulnerable and defiant at the same time. She does not shy away from difficult personal experiences. She has commented: ‘Much of my work has been about memory, for example, memories of violence and pain… I’m trying to draw love, but love isn’t always gentle… Being an artist isn’t just about making nice things...’.

Gallery label, May 2019

One Minute of Water

© Hilary Lloyd

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Hilary Lloyd
One Minute of Water
1999

This one-minute work helps us focus on the act of looking. Lloyd has looped footage of rippling water into a mesmerising film that appears to be ever-changing. Its framing removes any clues to the wider setting and gives it a sense of infinity. The effect of dappled sunlight on the water’s surface transforms the footage into an abstract and painterly scene. Lloyd carefully chose the equipment, which she considers part of the work, in order to emphasise our physical relationship with what we see.

Gallery label, May 2019

Maybe you can live on the moon in the next century

© Fiona Rae

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Fiona Rae
Maybe you can live on the moon in the next century
2009

Rae’s work treads a line between personal expression and quoting from wide-ranging cultural sources. Her energetic, mostly abstract works are laced with humour and playfulness. This painting combines expressive mark making with what looks like digital imagery. Explaining why she includes stencilled pandas, hearts and stars, she says: ‘They’re quite personal and have something to do with finding a way to live with authority. They puncture the authority of the gestural brushmarks and the grand tradition of modernist painting.’

Gallery label, May 2019

The Generosity

© Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

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Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
The Generosity
2010

Yiadom-Boakye’s portraits are fuelled by her interest in the history of figurative painting. Her work can perhaps also be seen as a critique of this history, addressing the absence of black subjects in western European and North American portraiture. She emphasises that her ‘starting point is always the language of painting itself and how that relates to the subject matter’. Her characters are imaginary, rather than based on specific individuals. She constructs deliberately ambiguous scenes for them, encouraging us to project our own meaning on to the work.

Gallery label, May 2019

Veil

© Shirazeh Houshiary

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Shirazeh Houshiary
Veil
1999

This painting is part of a series called ‘self portraits’. Houshiary explained that in these works she set out to ‘find the essence of my own existence, transcending name, nationality, cultures’. Veil refers to the chador worn by some Muslim women. Houshiary has inscribed Arabic text related to Sufism on the surface of the painting. This mystical form of Islam is an important reference for the artist, who moved to the UK from Iran in 1973. The delicate writing changes in different light conditions, sometimes becoming invisible.

Gallery label, May 2019

Inversions

© Estate of Mary Martin / DACS 2020

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Mary Martin
Inversions
1966

Martin was interested in the relationship between art and architecture. She was also thinking about questions of proportion and variation – issues that relate to architecture as much as art. The 96 aluminium panels are positioned according to a sequence, which is then repeated backwards as the ‘inversions’ of the title. Inversions is an abstract work, but Martin’s choice of reflective material means that it always includes elements of the environment where it is displayed, including the bodies of the viewers in front of it.

Gallery label, May 2019

Jesus and Barabbas (Odd Man Out 2011)

© Monster Chetwynd

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Monster Chetwynd
Jesus and Barabbas (Odd Man Out 2011)
2018

Chetwynd often references cultural history. This work is based on a previous performance of the biblical story of Jesus and Barabbas. Both men were condemned to death but custom dictated that one would be pardoned. The crowd chose Barabbas to be released, resulting in Jesus’s crucifixion. Chetwynd is interested in how a democratic choice might be undermined by bribery and corruption. The enlarged reproduction is Bacchanalian Scene 1862 by Richard Dadd (1817–1886), on display in the 1840 gallery.

Gallery label, May 2019

Portrait of Derek Marlowe with Unknown Ladies

© The estate of Pauline Boty

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Pauline Boty
Portrait of Derek Marlowe with Unknown Ladies
1962–3

Pop artist Boty used popular culture imagery to question how gender roles were presented. This work contrasts the treatment of an individual male sitter and the decorative depiction of unnamed women. Derek Marlowe (1938–1996) was an English writer and painter. He appears cool and assertive, in a pose common in celebrity photographs of the time. The smudged faces of four anonymous women are cut off at the forehead and chin. Boty said that for most men, women were ‘kind of things’.

Gallery label, May 2019

Police Constable Jamila Blake (Lolita Chakrabarti)

© Dawn Mellor

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Dawn Mellor
Police Constable Jamila Blake (Lolita Chakrabarti)
2016

This is one of a series of works depicting female police officers from British television dramas. Mellor has painted the women in their police uniform costumes and has added ‘visual commentary’. These elements complicate how we look at the characters and relate to society’s expectations for female protagonists. The paintings belong to a series called Sirens. This title evokes the sound of police cars, as well as the ‘screen siren’, an actress famed for her seductive appearance. The term originally refers to the enchanting yet dangerous female creatures in Greek mythology.

Gallery label, May 2019

Interior/Exterior

© Mona Hatoum

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Mona Hatoum
Interior/Exterior
2010

Hatoum’s work is concerned with themes such as violence, oppression, displacement and exile. Interior/Exterior Landscape presents a series of items that make subtle references to the artist’s biography arranged in a cell-like room. These include a hair-embroidered pillow depicting flight routes between cities Hatoum regularly visits, a bag constructed from a cut-out print of a world map, and a birdcage housing a hairball. This work uses the personal space of a bedroom as an expression of identity and cultural belonging.

Gallery label, January 2020

Crazy Bat Lady

© Monster Chetwynd

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Monster Chetwynd
Crazy Bat Lady
2018

This is a large-scale self-portrait of the artist. It is based on a photograph taken by the artist’s mother. The original image has been manipulated using photocopies and collage, giving the face a mask-like appearance. A bat and a butterfly form the hair or an extravagant hat. The work reflects Chetwynd’s interest in staging and performance and presents a wry take on female stereotypes.

Gallery label, May 2019

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Rose English
Quadrille
1975, 2013

These materials document a performance that took place at the Southampton Horse Show in 1975. The audience, there to watch equestrian events, were taken by surprise by a group of female performers dressed to resemble horses, complete with tails and high hoof-shoes. Carefully choreographed, their movements mimicked the highly controlled routines of horses in dressage competitions. English was part of a generation of women artists in Britain in the 1970s who used performance to highlight and disrupt oppressive gender roles and ideas of class and social hierarchy.

Gallery label, May 2019

Karl Lagerfeld Bean Counter

© Anthea Hamilton

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Anthea Hamilton
Karl Lagerfeld Bean Counter
2012

Karl Lagerfeld Bean Counter 2012 is a large floor-based sculpture the central element of which is a perspex cut-out of a reclining man who is wearing a lycra wrestling suit. He is resting on his left elbow with his right arm extended in front of his torso, one leg folded under him and the other outstretched. In front of him, trapped in acrylic, is a pile of buckwheat and in front of that ten Desiree potatoes are laid out. These incongruous elements sit on a low wooden rectangular plinth which is painted white.

All for You

© Tracey Emin

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Tracey Emin
All for You
2014

In this drawing Emin examines her relationship with her own body by looking at how the (female) body changes over time. Throughout her career, Emin has exposed aspects of her own, often intimate, experience in a way that is vulnerable and defiant at the same time. She does not shy away from difficult personal experiences. She has commented: ‘Much of my work has been about memory, for example, memories of violence and pain… I’m trying to draw love, but love isn’t always gentle… Being an artist isn’t just about making nice things...’.

Gallery label, May 2019

Sacha and Mum

© Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley/ Interim Art, London

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Gillian Wearing CBE
Sacha and Mum
1996

Sacha and Mum depicts a mother and daughter locked in an emotional and physical struggle. Their exchange alternates between tenderness and aggression. Wearing amplified the audio and edited her footage so that picture and sound play backwards, forwards and reverse. The work might reflect how love and hostility are often hard to separate in family relationships. This is one of the first works in which Wearing used professional actors, rather than herself or members of the public.

Gallery label, May 2019

Pin Up and Porn Queen Jigsaw

© reserved

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Rose Wylie
Pin Up and Porn Queen Jigsaw
2005

Wylie’s subject matter is often drawn from popular culture. Ranging from film stars to footballers, she describes the people she paints as ‘shared contemporary gods, outside of art and religion’. Her bold paintings confront what she sees as society’s obsession with style and self-image. The ‘pin-up’ of the title is the figure on the left, based on Marilyn Monroe in the 1961 film The Misfits. The head on the right is Annabel Chong, drawn from Wylie’s memory of a television documentary about the pornographic film actress.

Gallery label, May 2019

Assembly

© Alison Wilding

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Alison Wilding OBE
Assembly
1991

Wilding’s work is often concerned with contrasts in material, form and texture. Here she brings together black steel with translucent plastic sheets. Their shape is reminiscent of a large table. Wilding relates it to Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of Christ’s Last Supper. She has also described it as ‘a pair of scales, a balance between light and dark, a potential trajectory into blackness and despair.’

Gallery label, May 2019

Police Constable Kate McFay (Maxine Peake)

© Dawn Mellor

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Dawn Mellor
Police Constable Kate McFay (Maxine Peake)
2016

This is one of a series of works depicting female police officers from British television dramas. Mellor has painted the women in their police uniform costumes and has added ‘visual commentary’. These elements complicate how we look at the characters and relate to society’s expectations for female protagonists. The paintings belong to a series called Sirens. This title evokes the sound of police cars, as well as the ‘screen siren’, an actress famed for her seductive appearance. The term originally refers to the enchanting yet dangerous female creatures in Greek mythology.

Gallery label, May 2019

The Fallowfield

© Eva Rothschild

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Eva Rothschild
The Fallowfield
2018

The Fallowfield is Rothschild’s first tapestry. Its creation follows a longstanding interest in textiles and weaving. When the geometric composition is viewed from a distance, lines of the same colour are linked together in a way that suggests a group of freestanding frames. This gives the two-dimensional work a sculptural quality. The bottom edge is important to Rothschild: ‘fringes have also become as much part of the piece as the image. I wanted to have a balance where essentially what was just the decorative edge is now an integral part of what you are focused on in the work.’

Gallery label, May 2019

Enfleshings II

© Estate of Helen Chadwick

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Helen Chadwick
Enfleshings II
1989

This work is part of a series of lightboxes called ‘Meat Lamps’. The artist used photographs of meat, including offal, combined with other materials. The works confront us with the reality of the human body as physical matter. Our ideas and feelings are generated within our flesh, not from some detached and superior position in relation to it.

Gallery label, May 2019

The Destruction of the City of Homs

© Deanna Petherbridge CBE, courtesy of the artist

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Deanna Petherbridge CBE
The Destruction of the City of Homs
2016

Petherbridge made this work in response to the press coverage of the civil war in Syria. Homs, a city that has seen some of the most intense violence of the conflict, is shown as a bomb-damaged labyrinth. The artist has spoken of her painstaking attention to detail in making the work as a way of commemorating ‘all the imaginary people and their activities: the office buildings, the factories, the mosques, the schools and hospitals, the homes, apartments and workshops and their bombardment to rubble and dust.’

Gallery label, May 2019

Dako

© Tomma Abts

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Tomma Abts
Dako
2016

Abts began this work as a painting. While working on it she realised she was most interested in the jagged lines which were emerging, so she abandoned the canvas and cast the composition in aluminium instead. The title comes from a dictionary of place names. Abts names all her paintings in this way. She also often uses first names from East Frisia, northwest Germany, in reference to her German heritage.

Gallery label, May 2019

Untitled (Floor/Ceiling)

© Rachel Whiteread

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Rachel Whiteread
Untitled (Floor/Ceiling)
1993

Untitled (Floor/Ceiling) is a rubber cast of a floor and a ceiling of a small room. Whiteread has explained that ‘the material is the same for both pieces. It is seemingly a different colour because of the density of the material.’ By laying the two pieces next to each other on the gallery floor, Whiteread emphasises the absence of the walls. Space for a person to occupy is removed. This foregrounds the absence of a human body, and by extension evokes the idea of mortality.

Gallery label, May 2019

Sergeant June Ackland (Trudie Goodwin)

© Dawn Mellor

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Dawn Mellor
Sergeant June Ackland (Trudie Goodwin)
2016

This is one of a series of works depicting female police officers from British television dramas. Mellor has painted the women in their police uniform costumes and has added ‘visual commentary’. These elements complicate how we look at the characters and relate to society’s expectations for female protagonists. The paintings belong to a series called Sirens. This title evokes the sound of police cars, as well as the ‘screen siren’, an actress famed for her seductive appearance. The term originally refers to the enchanting yet dangerous female creatures in Greek mythology.

Gallery label, May 2019

Soft Sediment Deformation, Upper Body (quilted gray)

© Alice Channer, courtesy the artist

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Alice Channer
Soft Sediment Deformation, Upper Body (quilted gray)
2018

This work depicts a geological formation and is printed on silk. The fabric has been pleated, giving the work the texture of fish scales and producing a pixelated effect. The work draws parallels between the man-made and natural worlds. The artist wrote: ‘I want to mimic a geological process that happens on a massively non-human scale using industrial processes (pleating, printing) that are usually used to make clothing and that operate on a human scale. This is a deliberately outrageous conflation of scales and kinds of body.’

Gallery label, May 2019

Art in this room

Pauline Bunny
Sarah Lucas Pauline Bunny 1997
Mother Tongue
Zineb Sedira Mother Tongue 2002
Achæan
Bridget Riley Achæan 1981
Belshazzar’s Feast, the Writing on Your Wall
Susan Hiller Belshazzar’s Feast, the Writing on Your Wall 1983–4
2016
Maggi Hambling 2016 2016
I Could Feel You
Tracey Emin I Could Feel You 2014

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