On the Subject of Older Persons

I do like a bit of Tate. On Sunday was Silver Soapbox at Tate Britain. I know, who knew? Barbara did and she shared her info. It was Silver Sunday. New on me that one…. and on all gathered there. There were the intern-types in their tee-shirts emblazoned with the words “Silver Sunday Celebrating Older People” and there we were the over 55s tee shirt less. Don’t want one.

A small group attended and debated the depiction of older people in portraits. It was an excellent debate. You know the middle classes like to exercise their jaws and the rising class have always got something to say! Amongst us we had art historians, recently graduated seniors having read art history at Birkbeck and Patricia Rochford to espouse her views on how older people should act in order to be seen.

I enjoyed being there. Through Soapbox I feel comfortable at  Tate Britain. I used to hate the journey there: Tate Modern is one bus ride away. All is good now. Soapbox artistWe from Up Your Street had our cheese rolls in the October sun and pushed on to Hackney Central for the Hackney Empire tea dance where Hackney Empire Elders would sing their songs to commemorate WW1. At the end of that craziness where tea was £1.50 a cup, two of our party were handed tickets to go and watch Lenny Henry in the show at 5pm.

No, wasn’t jealous. What’s that in my eye?

What we did at Tate.

Note to selves; “Focus focus focus. Remember the question posed and steer clear of memory lane”. It’s easy to share memories but Soapbox is not about that. It could be. Today it was about the responsibility of artists to the communal experience. Whoa there. Into the realms of artspeke! It was about the moral stance of the artist.
We squinted and squirmed at constructed pain. We reacted emotionally sometimes as a groove of colour triggered a jolt on our group or individual time line. We travelled through the decade-marked galleries of Tate Britain going from the angst and social commentaries in pictures of the turbulent nineteen thirties to the brash outer limits of 1960 American influenced billboards of artists’ dots and daring dashes.

What can beat thrashing out opinions, mulling over someone’s one- liner, listening to a Soapbox participant’s mind-thumping ear-grating take on a painting all in front of an Henry Moore mammoth mover.

Already we’ve moved on: Seniors will be looking for the next word-provoking challenge in the wise ole knowledge that the loads we learnt today will be internalised and pop into our brains at another leaning post. Wrap your balls around that, Dementia.
I did fall in love with two paintings. Not the one with the naked willy and the hairy mons pubis. Yuk . No. Twas Adler’s “The Mutilated” (I think that’s the title) and a huge scraped paint canvas translated as “The She-Wolf”.

Today, seniors who enrolled on a two year pre-degree course in art appreciation at Birkbeck University through the recommendation of and motivation from Up Your Street glory in its end. It was a tough two years for them. How proud they should be. Tomorrow they pick up Adult Learners’ Awards at The Canal Museum in King’s Cross. What leads where, eh?

Now let me go translate the email I received all about some art in Southwark : the first sentence put me off.