Part of Susan Hiller’s From the Freud Museum 1992-7
I’m not great at conceptual art, I prefer art where I can see and appreciate the skill and workmanship. I understand this is currently a very old fashioned thing to say (M.A.D is currently studying art and it’s all about the’ journey’ and how you got there, rather than the end piece) but that’s the way it is. Apparently my appreciation of art is a bit too ‘decorative’ to be serious….I know, I know, don’t get me started, but the art world, a bit like fashion, has its own weird ways of seeing life, so we are happy to go along with the flow.
Susan Hiller, currently at Tate Britain, is right up my street. An American artist who has spent the last 30 years in Britain, her work -which is quite decorative I think- is grounded in anthropology, psychoanalysis, memory, illusion and the collection of ‘unimportant materials’ like postcards and wallpaper. I first saw her work From The Freud Museum 1992-7 in Tate Modern years ago and knew IMMEDIATELY I saw the collection of beautiful boxes curated with odd-ball items that she would be a favourite artist for life. Seeing the boxes made me realise there was a point to having silly collections of buttons, abacus, old buckles, jelly moulds, ribbons, hand mirrors, postcards and biscuit cutters at home. It was just all about the curated display, with meaning.
Not long after I saw the work in the Tate, I got a display table in the kitchen to satisfy my creative need to show stuff, I’m a frustrated visual merchandiser at heart and although most people think the table is a weird mis-use of a kitchen surface, it now has a constantly changing displays of ‘stuff’ on it, artfully placed that causes much hilarity/discussion/puzzlement, but keeps me jolly happy.
Anyway, back to Ms Hiller, who’s work is definitely worth visiting, particularly if you are a collector/displayer. Her exhibition is on until May 15th at the Tate Britain and is worth a visit for the boxes alone, but I also loved Dedicated to the Unknown Artist, a huge collection of seaside postcards depicting rough waves.
The curator of the exhibition will be giving a talk on Hiller’s work on March 25th, where I hope to find out how those beautiful boxes are made.
Another box featured in From the Freud Museum, 1992-7 by Susan Hiller
I love the sound of your table display – sounds wonderfully self-indulgent. I guess the rest of us have mantlepieces…. Any thoughts about doing a piece on it?
Oh mantlescaping! I think that calls for a feature Jude!