History and Theory Exhibition and Site Visits






Clearing VII 2019


Slabworks 2019

The idea of the body is presented in varied ways throughout the exhibition. The exhibition lay out is ordered by the theme of each piece rather than by date created, allowing the exhibition to flow. 


Slabworks 2019, by Antony Gormley consists of fourteen sculptures, in different positions across the floor of the galleries entrance. The geometric volumes replace the human form. Each sculpture is made by stacking the objects together, with no use of adhesive. Each sculpture presents a different human form; some standing, some laying at rest and some huddled.


Anthony Gormley Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts London

Anthony Gormley is a sculptor who focuses on the human body and ideas of space to create his work. When visiting his exhibition I noticed how varied his work is in scale and material, from pieces that fill the whole exhibition room to smaller sketches and drawings. Gormley uses a wide range of material from steel to bread, and even sea water. I really admire him for using diverse and unusual materials to create his work and I feel using unique materials made the experience as a viewer more intriguing and for-filling. 


quote from Gormley or about him 



Anthony Gormley Video:

Introduction to Anthony Gormley Video: Royal Academy of Arts London

Grace Adam Video: Notes

  • Focus on sculpture and insulation 
  • Gormley has worked as an artist for the last 40 years exploring his body in space.
  • His most famous piece of work, the Angel of the North in Gateshead, UK, 1998. 

Image result for angel of the north

  • Iron Baby - tiny metal baby, placed in the courtyard of the Royal Academy. Gormley talks about this object as a bomb, it has loads of destructive potential. He is interested in the way it will grow up and have a whole life, a cycle..
  • Image result for iron baby antony gormley
  • Clearing VII, 2019 - interesting to think about the way Gormley interacts with us as a viewer. The walk where you have to clamber through it to get to the other side.. Theres a small room on the other side with more of Gormley’s art in it and if you want to get there you have to be brave, you have to climb through the sculpture.. Its four and half miles long of steel and when you walk through it clangs and pings, and moves, making marks on the walls. 
  • Matrix III, 2019 is very beautiful, it is apparently 97% re used, recycled metal. In the middle there is a space/ void which is the space of a European new build bedroom
  • Sleeping Field is a series of figures lying down. Gormley pushes the figures as far as he can take it. The are not glued or welded together, each block is laid onto another block. He is very invested in making things from industrial techniques
  • Huge body - enter through a foot, come out of a hand. The good thing is you don’t know whats going to happen, how to respond. You are not sure what he has laid out for you to experience. 
  • Gormley talks about the body as a sight, as a place. He wants us to celebrate that.


  • Do you think it works?
  • Do you think this is a successful exhibition?
  • Do you think that it’s conservative?
  • Do you think that he can push the body further? Or ideas of the body?
  • The body  - is it universal, can I identify with the bodies or is it just his body?
  • He says its all about space, the body in space.. as I navigated my way through the show I should be thinking about how it works as a show, I am an interior designer.. How do the pieces of work react with the space? 
  • How do I interact with the space? And the pieces of work?
  • Hows light and dark used?
  • Is it well curated?
  • Do I consider it to be spiritual?
  • What is my experience of being there? 

Sir William Rothenstein

'The Doll's House' by Sir William Rothenstein 

The artist Augustus John and Rothenstein's wife Alice Knewstub (the actress Alice Kingsley) posed for the picture.The painting was posed on a staircase of a cottage in Vattètot whist the Rothenstein’s were on their honeymoon. The painting's title is influenced by Ibsen's play A Doll's House (1879), first preformed in London in 1889. The painting presents the climax of the drama in Act III, during a dance at the Helmers' house which presents the exposure of deception and hypocrisy of a marriage. Augustus John parodied the painting as if it were a typical Victorian painting and merely referred to Alice and himself as people, not characters in the play. 

The mood in this painting is very dreary, the man's stance is almost threatening, presenting his dominance over the woman as he stands upright in front of her, blocking her access down the stairs, while dressed in dark clothing. The woman is sitting glumly on the stairs as if she has given in to the man's dominance. The woman's white gown may represent her innocence in her controlling marriage. 

the dolls house.jpg

Sir William Quiller Orchardson

'The First Cloud', 1887, oil on canvas, by Sir William Quiller Orchardson

'The First Cloud' is part of thee pictures by Orchardson that focus on the theme of the unhappy marriage. The first two in the series, Mariage de Convenance (1883, Glasgow Museums) and Mariage à la Mode - After! (1886, Aberdeen Art Gallery) depict the sacrifice of marrying for wealth rather than for love. The setting is an elegant Victorian drawing room, presenting the status of the couple. The painting presents the break down of a superficial marriage between an elderly rich husband and his bored, beautiful, young wife. In The First Cloud, the marriage is based on an exchange of the young brides' beauty matched with the mans' wealth, however, the age gap isn't as noticeable. It is clear that this is a marriage which lacks love, held together only by his wealth and her youth and beauty. 

The separation of the couple connotes a loveless marriage as they are far away from one another. The woman is facing the darkness out the window which may represent her life without the riches as she would not live this 'privileged lifestyle' of fancy furniture and clothes she has acquired. However, she seems to be tempted by the darkness and what is beyond her loveless marriage as her attention is captivated by the darkness, the possibility of living a free life and the possible chance of finding real love.



Angustus Leopold Egg

Past and Present, No 3, by Angustus Leopold Egg

In the last painting of the series, the moon occupies the same position in the sky, indicating that the scene is taking place at the same time. The children's mother, has taken refuge under one of the Adelphi arches. Under her shawl she shelters a young child, possibly the result of her affair, which is clearly now over. 

These series of paintings are effective as they are not only beautiful, but they tell a story of this broken marriage and broken family, and life in the Victorian home behind the fancy exterior. 

Past and present no 3.jpg

Angustus Leopold Egg

Past and Present, No 2, by Angustus Leopold Egg

Past and Present No 2 presents the aftermath of discovering disloyalty between a marriage.  In the first scene the family are still together, and the husband has just learned of his wife's adultery. The second scene is a depressing scene, five years later. The room is sparsely furnished and the few decorations include two paintings of the absent mother and father. The very dark paint palette used creates an unnerving atmosphere, presenting to the viewer that this is most likely an unpleasant scene for the two girls in the centre of the painting. The father has recently died and the mother has been driven out of her home due to her betrayal.  The two orphaned girls comfort each other, the elder gazing sadly over the rooftops towards the moon, possibly wishing what her life could have been. 

Past and Present No 2.jpg

Angustus Leopold Egg

Past and Present, No 1, by Angustus Leopold Egg

Angustus Leopold Egg created a triptych; called Past and Present.

Past and Present, No 1, (1858) by Angustus Leopold Egg is the first of a set of three modern-life pictures on the theme of the fallen woman, presented in the Tate collection. These were popular in Victorian art and typical social moralist pictures. 

The painting presents the aftermath of a woman's infidelity and its consequences. In this first scene the wife lies prostrate at her husband's feet, while he sits sternly at the table and their children (the older girl modelled by William Frith's daughter) play cards in the background. The husband is holding a letter, evidence of his wife's adultery. The house of cards is collapsing which signifies the breakdown of the couple's marriage. Likewise the picture in the background of the mirror reflects an open door, denoting the woman's soon departure from the home. In Victorian England a man could safely take a mistress without fear of recrimination, but for a woman to be unfaithful was an unforgivable crime.



Sir Anthony Caro

'The Window 1966-7' by Sir Anthony Caro. 

Sir Anthony Caro (1924–2013) was intrigued with sculpture. As a part-time tutor at St Martin's school of Art, London (1953-1979), Caro wanted his students to go beyond the limits as he states "we are all engaged on an adventure, to push sculpture where it has never been. We are explorers". From 1960 Caro focused on abstract sculpture, that sits directly on the ground with the viewer. 

This piece is a multi-part steel sculpture, painted with a combination of dark and light green. The structure consists of two rectangular sheets of steel; one, solid and dark green, faces a larger, olive green, sheet of steel mesh. These are held upright (but in landscape format) which have the dimensions of 2170 x 3740 x 3480mm presenting the sculptures' large scale. The sharp pieces of metal which stretch across the room could easily injure someone when they are not paying attention, so it is a risky choice for Caro to created such a large and possibly dangerous sculpture. 

I find this piece fascinating as it is an abstract sculpture which intrigues the viewer due to our curiousness of what it is, why is is green and why is it in it's scale and form. 



Marcel Duchamp

'Fountain' 1917 by Marcel Duchamp was seen as an icon of twentieth-century art. Duchamp focused on recycling object in his artwork by taking existing objects and placing them in different contexts. The original was lost and now a 1964 replica is in the Tate. The fact that the original is lost is interesting and ties in with the theme of the ‘throw away’ culture we live in, as we are not careful with our belongings due to our constant desire to purchase the latest model therefore disregarding and losing interest in anything previous. Showing our societies careless nature to our possessions.

Questions I thought about whilst looking at this piece:

What is a urinal doing in an art gallery?

To create a reaction, shocking it's audience.

Why was it so shocking at the time it was first seen?

Because artwork like itself was see as outrageous, inappropriate and rude, laughable and insulting rather than artwork which you can cherish, love and be inspired from. 

Is it still socially shocking/unacceptable ?

In some places and opinions, definitely as art is subjective, and especially the older generation are more likely to feel insulted seeing this piece in a gallery or perhaps confused. However I would say that times and opinions have moved on and we are living in a generation where we want to shock, outrage and grab people's attention to put our social and political views across. 


Sarah Sze - Seamless Review

‘Seamless’ was created by Sarah Sze in 1999, made from cheap objects which are used in everyday life. These being: Lamps, plastic, fans, toothpicks, plants, string, bottles, cotton buds, compasses, pins, fire extinguisher, wire, ladder, matchsticks, humidifier, pills, wood, magnifying glasses, levels, scissors and other materials. Sze focused on using these everyday objects, designed for the human scale by changing their original context by creating a unique sculpture by combining them together. The sculpture flows into corners and doorways and even in spaces behind the wall created by rectangle holes, highlighting the galleries architecture. The title ‘Seamless’ represents its position at the seam of the two Tate buildings Sze explains, presenting its connection to the building itself.

‘Seamless’ is a modernist piece which highlights contemporary consumer culture, in modern day society as many of us have an obsession for purchase and possession of material objects which we then dispose of as we are fascinated by the latest object on the market. It is as if Sze has combined all of our perfectly working but unwanted possessions together into a striking sculpture that captures our attention due to it’s size and detail; making this piece not only fascinating to view but also a statement about the materialist society we live in. 




Seamless - Sarah Sze, 1999

Materials and Objects display - Tate Modern

When visiting the 'Materials and Objects display' at Tate Modern I wanted to explore the range of materials and everyday objects different artists used to create their artwork. The fundamental theme the artists shared was the concept of consumerism and in-particular the issue of 'throwaway culture' in society.

Consumerism and clutter takes away our freedom.

Forms on a Bow 1949 by Eduardo Paolozzi 1924-2005


Torso in Metal from 'The Rock Drill' 1913-15 by Jacob Epstein 1880-1959


Tate Review - The Mud Bath

‘The Mud Bath’ was created by David Bomberg in 1914, made from oil paint on a canvas. Bomberg (1890-1975) was associated with a group of artist’s called the Vorticist’s who created artwork in response to the modern day world, which was often an abstract of the urban environment and the advance of factories and machines, highlighting Bomberg’s interest in Modernism.  

‘The Mud Bath’ includes abstract human figures formed from striking colours – red, blue and white which are geometric angles. Forcing the viewer to imagine the human form, differing from the traditional realism paintings of life form; presenting Bomberg’s role in Modernism.

‘The Mud Bath’ is influenced by Schewzik Russian Vapour Baths in Brick Lane, which were used by Jew’s for religious and hygienic practices. Jewishness was an important part in Bomberg’s identity and this piece was a way for him to express his religious beliefs in an abstract, modernist way.MUD BATHS -ASTON.jpg

Tate Britain

Visiting Tate Britain, and viewing modernist artwork from the late 19th century to the early 20th century gave me an understanding on how varied modernist artwork can be, with different themes on sculpture and scale. However, sharing the same admiration for simplicity represented by using a minimal colour palette.