On the way to the Susan Hiller show, the visitor walks through the Duveen Galleries and encounters Single Form: The Body in Sculpture from Rodin to Hepworth. This complements (and helps compensate for) the modern British sculpture currently being offered by the RA (blog post last month).
Alison Smith, the lead Curator of Watercolour, asks:
... Also, what we would like to explore in this exhibition, is the question – is watercolour a particularly British phenomenon?Klaus Kertes in the Spring edition of Tate etc suggests:
Perhaps being surrounded on all sides by water intensified the British propensity for the medium.I certainly don’t know enough art history to begin to comment seriously, and I expect that other dull souls have suggested before that it might be our climate. As the CIA World Factbook puts it: “more than one-half of the days are overcast”. Perhaps also the humidity makes application easier, and the translucence of the medium is particularly appropriate to the light levels most of the year in the British Isles.
Watercolour by virtue of its breadth and historical depth is a highly educational endeavour, and Tate Britain should be congratulated on it. Particularly so when we learn of the BBC Trust and management’s depressing intention for Radio 4 of:
Continuing to develop the general tone of the station away from formality and perceived didacticism towards spontaneity and conversation. (Service Review, paragraph 115)Tate seem to have realised that what many people want is to engage with substance, as attendance at any Literary Festival makes clear. Thankfully, with Miro and the Vorticists to come, it looks as though Tate is going to carry on being didactic.