"I think I ought to warn you that I've given second thoughts to the whole of this scheme, and I think it better we turn round and go back before it's too late. Hmm, hmm."Art If the TARDIS looks like it's dropping in and out of phase, it's because the weather was utterly horrendous on the way to the TATE this morning, rain shifting horizontally across the waterfront, making it pretty difficult to control the time ship long enough to take the photograph. Perhaps the shock of returning to the gallery so close to having been to the Biennial's opening press conference also discombobulated the controls. After deciding to use a randomiser, I hadn't expected to be at TATE quite so soon and rather makes me wish I'd stuck around for the curatorial introduction last Thursday before toddling off to Caines.
-- The Doctor, "The Myth Makers"
Not that the exhibition itself isn't fairly self explanatory. The key expression of the "Ancient Greece" episode of the Biennial, it presents a selection of busts and reliefs bought by art collector, Henry Blundell in the 1800s and now in the vaults and so on loan from National Museums Liverpool. Having spent a portion of the late 90s cataloguing sections of this collection when I worked for the then National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside, I was well aware that there was more in the donation than what's on display in the sculpture gallery at the Walker, so it's fascinating to see some objects which haven't always been on display. The press kits gives a figure of 553.
The first floor gallery at the TATE displays about a dozen specifically chosen because of how they represent inaccurate restoration. As the Biennial booklet explains, female heads could find themselves attached to male bodies, parts of the anatomy incorrectly fused, fragments married with later creations to form new sculptures by eighteenth century restorers. Within the show, there are disembodied heads married to bases to become busts, mismatched breasts fused to females for which they were missing and even an example of hair extensions on a scalp for which they were never meant and look entirely incongruous.
Presented on a wooden boards atop pink-painted metal frames this is not the usual museum display, apart from the accompanying labels which are every bit the sort of text you might expect in an antiquities gallery, explaining how the object was restored and who or what it's supposed to represent. The pottery selections are not presented in the usual manner behind glass cases and it's possible to walk almost right around them, again not something usually possible within a more traditional museum setting. Perhaps I was expecting something a bit closer to a recreation of the Ince Blundell Hall interior as featured in the booklet photograph, but again the Walker's sculpture gallery exists for that.
Amid these ancient relics are new commissions and other business by contemporary artists reflecting on ancient Greece. Andreas Angelidakis's digital video explains how Ancient Greek vases were on of the ways in which news and myths were communicated, relating them to social media which arguably works in a similar way albeit on a much quicker timescale. That's accompanied by various shapes, some of which appear in the video, created through 3D printing displayed in a similar fashion to the ancient greek objects. But it's fair to say my interest was always directed back the magnificent museum piece cobbled together by various makers across history. Now, where next?
Master Chef Restaurant.