Monday, 22 August 2011


                    TATE BRITAIN                                                 

This sculpture consists of six dollies which the artist found in the King’s Cross area. What attracted him 'was partly their absurdity.' A ‘dolly’ is a tray on wheels. It can be anything from a heavy metal trailer  attached to a truck, to a plastic base which slips under heavy container pots when you want to rearrange your patio.

Here the dollies are thwarted from their intended purpose of being helpful. Their power as object subsides, we see them instead as colour, for they are topped by acrylic sheet and brilliant reflective enamel paint. They glow and glisten. If you have to see them as objects, on the floor of Tate Britain they are more like sly skate boards, hoping you’ll hitch a ride. Especially with a title which refers to a station offering opportunities to spin off  to a thousand different destinations.

 David Batchelor's art invites us to reflect on how we  respond to colour in a technological and urban environment. His studio is said to be a treasure trove of everyday plastic objects - clothes pegs, fly-swatters, buckets, spoons,  toys, empty bottles from all over the world. Light-industrial materials such as steel shelves, commercial lightboxes and neon tubes, turn them into installations which invite us to look again - and then celebrate with him the ordinary, the lurid and the ramshackle. 

In the last few years he has produced site-specific work in London at St Bart’s Hospital, Tower Bridge and, thanks to the Arts Council, a 10 metre high light installation, Big Rock Candy Fountain, at Archway tube station. He's currently showing at the Saatchi Gallery.

His hypnotic, beautiful, patterned work distils colour in a unique way. I’m reminded of my excitement when as a child I opened the lid of the paint box from Father Christmas and saw lozenges of pure colour. I knew I could use them in any sequence and see what happened. (Nothing did, but I enjoyed the process). 

I’m also reminded of Jim Lambie, another Scottish artist who takes ordinary objects and transfigures them, liberating the energy of colour. I haven't  been able to trace his work in London at the moment.

P.S. This is my second blog with Kings Cross in the title. The first was Alex Cave’s painting (blog number 67) where the viewer is plunged into clutter and excitement as buildings shatter and merge when Kings Cross, Euston and St Pancras join the party.

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