The Easel

24th May 2022

Cornelia Parker exposes the hidden meanings of everyday objects

Parker, a conceptual artist, is nothing if not resourceful. One work comprises the fragments of a garden shed, reassembled after being blown up by the military. There’s silverware flattened by a steamroller. A tapestry made in part by lawyers and criminals. These are objects each of which has a back story that changes their meaning. Parker describes it as “sympathetic magic”. The reviewer says its “a kind of alchemy, turning mundanity into profundity”.

Gainsborough’s ‘Blue Boy’

When Gainsborough painted this famous work, the “fancy picture” was fashionable. These were pictures intended for public viewing, sentimental and often featuring children. Blue Boy was intended as one of these but isn’t entirely successful. It is “rather brown” which, in reproductions, makes the blue stand out. This masks the “shortcomings of [Gainsborough’s] colour management … the fabric never really shines, it just tells us it does.”

17th May 2022

Bringing The Procession to life

London’s Tate – founded on a Caribbean sugar fortune – must have seen this coming when awarding its annual installation commission to Locke, an artist of Caribbean heritage. Locke’s vast, “extraordinary” work contains over 100 cardboard and fabric figures, arranged in a flamboyant procession. A more careful look reveals colonialist icons and symbols everywhere, giving the colourful work a slightly sinister edge. “It’s about history, but it’s about sugar, you’re dealing with Tate, you have to deal with that.