Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Towner Gallery, Part Two (Only three months late, because I suck).

Part 2: The Towner Gallery Collection

I should start by apologising, you will undoubtedly have noticed I have not been on holiday for three whole months, partly because I have written another blog post since then, and also because my blog readership is still very much in the “people that know me directly” stage.

I’d like to pick up directly where I left off, but unfortunately so much time has passed since my visit, that looking at my own notes now is like trying to read French (or if you can speak French, some other language). So this might not be exactly the most clear and comprehensive of reviews.

Towner, in its current incarnation, is a young gallery, having only opened in 2009, so is still very much trying to carve out it’s own identity, a challenge which must be made all the more difficult by the galleries Tate connections.

They’ve let them use the font and everything.

The collection I saw (which ended in March) attempted to marry its local and national links, containing a mix of mid 20th century artists based along the Sussex coast, and high profile established contemporary artists such as Grayson Perry and Tracy Emin, only to came across as rather disjointed. The low light of the exhibition for me however was a more simple error in curation, the placement of a large, text heavy, and diagrammatic Grayson Perry etching “Map of Nowhere” just outside a video piece with a loud accompanying soundtrack. Not a problem for (and presumably installed by) anyone who is capable of reading in a noisy environment, but not being one of those people myself, this seemed the least suitable of all the works on display to hang in such a distraction riddled spot.

Click for big, but turn the radio on first.

That’s all for the review, but the snippets I can still remember after the last three months are nonetheless useful; my most strongly retained memory of the main collection is not of a new and interesting work or a revealing insight, but of an error. No exhibition will ever be perfect, but it must leave the viewer with something that clings in the mind, everything average will be forgotten in time, it’s the extremes that linger, and at such a young age, it’s vital that The Tower aim for as many of those positive extremes as possible as it finds its feet, if it is to establish itself as firmly as it’s parent galleries in London.

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