Cupola

I see you’re reading This Changes Everything. Do you mind talking about what you think of it?

This is the members’ room at Tate Britain, up in the cupola above the Millbank entrance, the haunt of civilised, middle-class people. It is a beautiful space. That forest of pillars and arches cannot be necessary to hold up such a little dome, but it makes the place beautiful and unusual. Rather than musak, birdsong plays. David talked readily enough.

He has not finished it, but finds it terribly depressing. He is at the bit where mad scientists are proposing to pump sulphur into the upper atmosphere to block out the sun’s rays, so the atmosphere will not warm, mimicking the effect of natural volcanic eruptions. Klein says that when volcanoes do this, it changes rainfall patterns, so that some nations will suffer drought and be unable to feed themselves. Don’t worry, it gets better. He is going to the mass lobby of parliament on climate change on 17 June.

We chatted more widely. He was an artist, but he got fed up with accumulating stuff and changing it into other stuff which clogged up his house, never selling any of it. Now, he works with a charity running a city farm. Hundreds of children come to him, and they look into the eyes of frogs together. Yet they only spend two hours with him, and what good is that?

Perhaps some of them will find love and fascination in it.
That is all a teacher can hope, that the spark passes onto one other, who in twenty years will be doing what I do now.

This space used to be the library, but never as bright as it is now. Perhaps the walls were a darker shade, or there were bookshelves blocking the light- for a time he worked here, showing children art works and discussing them.

I can’t remember how we got onto Damien Hirst. I remember one glass case- a “vitrine”?
-yes, originated by Joseph Beuys, an artist’s artist, an inspiration to artists. He started putting objects in glass cases.
-it was an office chair and a plain white desk with three or four things on it, and there was something about the relationship between the things on the desk which intrigued me.
-Oh yes, he’s a real artist, you don’t get into the Guildhall without quality, but when he started making loads of money he lost his artistic integrity. He just churned out anything. A real artist would not care so much about the money.

He does not understand how Tracy Emin can be a Thatcherite.

-Another piece was Black Sun, a huge black disc made of dead flies. It repelled me. I thought it obscene.
-That could be a meaning of it. Or it could refer to something like this idea of blocking sunlight with dirt in the atmosphere.

He goes off and I take a picture. Then I see another sculpture, where a similar blob seems to be holding out a wilted flower towards the woman on the door, and I consider taking a photograph of that- but then I would never end with the photography. Below, a man takes pictures of the experiment with an air pump. Light streams down on it and reflects off it when you stand directly before it: he crouches with his expensive camera to the side, to avoid that reflection. But then you get a view of the art work, rather than the picture itself. Perhaps that is the intention of how it is lit.

I checked, but the Naiads has gone back into storage and there is no current intention to exhibit it again.

Tate Cupola

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