Chastity belts, golden balls and sub flags.

It was still almost thirty degrees outside when I began my tube journey and the evening after the cultural event would be balmy. That I knew. Tonight’s adventure was the  freebie evening for community groups at Tate Britain’s Folk Art bonanza. Art? Art or craft? . My companions were two seniors who’d followed and failed a two year pre-degree art and visual appreciation course which just finished so they were relaxed and chatty. The free wine loosened them up too.

Thank goodness it wasn’t twee embroidery and I’m up  to here with William Morris and his organicness. Calm down and think of England. It was indeed English folk’s work from way back in the 19th Century and before with lots of ye olde worlde shop signs and marvellous ship’s figure-heads.  Dead stuff indeed. Only two things really jumped out and no photos were allowed. There was a tapestry with loads of golden thread and a mammoth shiny blue figure-head.

The organisation was excellent from the welcome crisps and juice to the inspirational talks by Tate friends and workshop affiliates. We heard from one passionate art fan as she  linked the giant padlocks to chastity belts and locked-up sheds. There were Gulliver boots and pawn- broker golden balls; all things to indicate the nature of those high street businesses in times when literacy was rare. Different worlds. Another speaker corrected her use of language when she promoted Linwood a woman who sewed and was never recognised as an artist, by quickly correcting the racist “coloured”  to “black”. Unbelievable. Pimlico. Ironically she was letting us know that women are under-represented in art galleries.

Stephen took us all on a journey of revelation when he shared everything he knew from experience and research about a 1943 submarine flag. A tired old  flag. Flag as art. I could have listened to more except my sandaled unsupported feet were sore. Other women were resting on walking-sticks.

The cock picture advertising “Folk Art” was tiny. All made from the bones of the artist’s (sic) dinners. I couldn’t agree with our amateur guide that such art can only be created in a non-technological age. All the computer -generated designs created by multi-tasking workers today will be catalogued in one hundred years at Tate Britain too.  Creativity will come through despite background noise.


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