Friday, 22 March 2013

Light Show

Everywhere I go at the moment, I hear the strains of David Bowie.  Even Sholto mutters about Major Tom as he skulks around the house causing chaos; he drew red felt tip all over some pale grey Chelsea Textiles cushions this morning while decorating his cardboard box space rocket.  But despite his misdemeanors, I am enormously looking forward to taking him to the Bowie exhibition at the V&A which opens this weekend: he's going to love it.

Taking the children to look at art is becoming easier - or I'm becoming more realistic about it - either way, I feel that we're well on the way to having it sussed.  The key is not to take them to anything static.  They need, in the words of Ziggy Stardust, Sound and Vision.  (There can be disastrous consequences if I don't comply with this basic rule.  I spent precisely eleven minutes at the RA's Bronze.  Which was one minute and thirty seconds longer than it took Sholto to realise that the galleries have got a really good echo on.)

The Light Show at the Hayward - which focuses on the past fifty years of artworks created using artificial light - was a total winner, for all of us.  Dazzling, frazzling; it actually gave me some ideas for interior design (between reminding me why living permanently with coloured lightbulbs never really caught on.)

Anyway, my ideas for graceful living:

I quite want this at the foot of my bed.  Or perhaps I could have my bed on some sort of dias in the middle of it, like a very contemporary Titania:

Leo Villareal, Cylinder

And imagine if one had a huge hall or antechamber, a marble affair with columns, and then imagine if you replaced the columns with these (ridiculously named) pieces:

Cerith Wyn Evans, S=U=P=E=R=S=T=R=U=C=T=U=R=E ('Trace me back to some loud, shallow, chill, underlying motive's overspill...')

This one is really hard to get a good photograph of, and you can't really perceive what it is from this image, but there's a tunnel of light both above you and below you and you're standing in what looks a lot like a tardis to view it, and I would totally have this in my downstairs loo.  Or in a really small room that just had a telephone in it - no one has telephone rooms anymore, but perhaps I would have one just for this piece of artwork - it's fabulous, right?  (Although the meaning behind it is less fabulous:  the prison of endless repetitions is actually a metaphor for life under a Chilean military dictatorship, encased by four walls it is as one of Pinochet's torture chambers.  But perhaps the downstairs loo, or a telephone room, is a good place to quietly reflect upon how lucky one is not to live under a military dictatorship.)

Ivan Navarro, Reality Show (Silver)

And finally, I would have this in my bathroom.  Again, it's not easy to photograph, but imagine the VIP bathroom at a very upmarket rave, complete with strobe lighting and mini fountains in every basin (I don't think that they were actually basins at the Hayward, incidentally.  But maybe they should have been.  Art like this, if you're going to buy it and not build a new wing for it/ keep it in warehouse that might burn down then you've got to figure out how to live with it, surely?  I interviewed Dasha Zhukova a while back; it was an interiors feature.  She's got a Richard Prince basketball picnic table - it's a picnic table, but there's a basketball hoop where the umbrella would traditionally go - and she uses it!  She actually eats at it! Amazing!)  Anyway, Sholto loved the strobe lighting.  So much so, that I almost felt sorry for him that he isn't growing up in the nineties.

Olafur Elliason, Model for a Timeless Garden

The only negative effect of this adventure is that Sholto has become somewhat dictator-like about the environment at home.  He either wants every single light in the house burning bright, or he wants to be in complete darkness aside from the neon glow of the streetlamps, and struts around yelling "Off!  Turn lights OFF Mummy!"  And then every so often he asks if could we go back to the Light Show.  "Please Mummy?  Today Mummy?  Please, please, please . . . ?"

Incidentally, it's worth booking for this show. Especially if you've got a toddler in tow, as mine, at least, isn't exactly good in a queue . . .