Wednesday 14th May 2014

Today I go see the Phyllida Barlow exhibit at the Tate Britain, to get some inspiration.

A few years ago we had been in a group show together down in Surrey. Her work at the time impressed me with its complete boldness and how she had worked with the site, an old derelict mill. We sat outside in the grounds of Postford House and discussed our approaches to our work. She left a real impression on me then.

Her work at the Tate is wonderful. She has transformed a huge imposing space into her own playground. There are not many artists that could achieve this. I take note: Be bold Mary.



Phyllida Barlow at Tate Britain. Images: Mary Branson

Later in the evening I travel to the Barbican to see The Testament of Mary with Fiona Shaw. Before I go in, there is a light installation called Momentum in the public gallery. I decide to check it out as I have heard United Visual Artists are good. It was certainly impressive – big pendulum swinging lights, interesting sound effects and fabulous attention to detail. Oh yes – and haze machines, one of my favourites.

I should have loved it, but it felt very cold to me – lacking any real measure of emotion.

Fiona Shaw’s performance was the complete opposite – full on, no brakes rawness. While there was only one set, the stage was crowded with props and the production had lots of sound effects and music – which I actually found distracting, I felt Shaw told her story so well she needed nothing else. Balance can be a delicate process – in all art forms.

Come back on Tuesday 16 August, when Mary explores the Parliamentary Art Collection…