Home of Compassion visit Tate Modern

Residents from The Home of Compassion in Thames Ditton were invited to another stupendous audio description with the Tate Gallery group.  This time we ventured into the hallowed walls of Tate Modern for a taste of the Eastern Block with works from Poland, Romania and Russia for the exhibition entitled Performer and Participant.

Curators Helen O Malley and Dina Akhmadeeva described two pieces each and we were submerged into a world under Communism rule.

After the hour long intrepid journey by taxi we were greeted with tea and cake in the new block of the Tate Modern, called the Blavatnik Building, for a friendly chat with others on the tour, then were whisked to the third floor which is dedicated to post 1960’s work.

Four art pieces were described in detail, informing us of everything from the history of the artist to how the piece was constructed and its representation.

The first piece appealed to us greatly as we happened to be an all female group from the Home of Compassion.  It concentrated on the feelings and opinions of women over 60 and how they fitted into their society.  Compiled by Suzanne Lacy the piece called Crystal Quilt comprised of a video, photos, audio and a quilt.  Part of a three year long project, Suzanne was interested in how women of a certain age perceived themselves as part of the community and preconceived attitudes about them.  She interviewed 430 women in total, and recorded the thoughts of 78 of them to use in an audio which played in the gallery.  On one of the walls hung a quilt which reflected the colours and layout of the event she held in a large shopping centre.  The video showed a time lapse video of the event in which was held on 10th May 1987, Mother’s Day in the USA.  430 women gathered to share their views on growing older.  All the participants dressed in black and engaged in simple actions using their hands and manipulating the tablecloth of the table each set of four were seated at to reflect the previously mentioned quilt’s design.  The video was shot from overhead giving us a bird’s eye view of the proceedings.  This event was attended by over 3,000 people and was broadcast live on television.  The photos showed the women meeting on that day and the interactions which led to many long term friendships.

Moving onto another area we were met with a range of metal objects placed on the floor over a large area.  On two sides of the walls surrounding the sculptures there were pictures of the same shapes made using wheat.  Every year locals in Transylvania would build these structures out of wheat as part of a long standing tradition, however by the 1970’s the political and economic climate of the now called Romania resulted in a decline in this tradition and artist Ana Lupas realised the existing structures were rotting away and there would be no record of them; so she decided to replicate them in metal, ensuring their longevity in history.  She took detailed photos of all the wheat sculptures and using 200 drawings of the shapes, and recreated 21 of them by the year 2000.  The photos displayed are some of the black and white images she captured whilst doing her research back in the 70’s and were displayed with a yellow tone to give them a sense of warmth which one feels in the summer at harvest time.

The third piece by Edward Krasinski comprised of a room with 12 mirrors of the same size suspended from the ceiling each with a thin line of blue tape exactly 130cm parallel from the floor.  This tape was also in evidence at the same height all around the room, only punctuated by two canvases, named Intervention, which also had the same blue tape running through them.  Krasinski used this blue tape in many of his pieces and even had it running through his own home, over his furnishings, walls and sometimes even people.  Underneath the mirrors were a variety of plinths with small sculptures on top of them.

The fourth piece introduced to us did not inspire us on the day, but on reflection left a more lasting impression than the other three.  It was a room, which measured 4 metres by 4 metres and was created by Irina Nakhova in 1984.  She lived in communist Russia and transformed her whole living room into an art piece, removing all her furniture in the process.  All the walls, floors and ceilings were painted white and no windows were in evidence.  She then pasted large areas using jagged shapes in grey and black block colours.  The jagged shapes represented the precarious existence in early 1980’s Russia, as you had no idea what would come the next day.  The room felt quite claustrophobic and Nakhova wanted this to help us understand how your home was the only place you could feel safe to be yourself without checking what you are doing or saying;  in doing so it also felt like a cell, there was a distinct feeling of being imprisoned.  She produced 6 different rooms, each taking a year to complete.

After having our preconceptions and understanding of modern art duly educated, we all reflected over the exhibition over a cuppa in the terrace café.  Everyone who attended this and the previous audio description at Tate Britain are keen to attend again, and we are very lucky that the generous Marcus Dickey Horley invites us along.

We intend to visit Tate Britain again in January, and hope to continue this tradition every three months.

If you are blind or visually impaired, please look into these excellent tours which take place on the third Monday of each month throughout the year.

Home of Compassion is dedicated to providing the highest level of residential, nursing and dementia care for up to 71 elderly residents. The luxurious care home is set in delightful surroundings in the heart of Thames Ditton, with beautiful views over the river.

If you would like to find out more about life at Home of Compassion, our events and activities, or would like to arrange a visit to our home, please contact us on 0808 223 5406 or email manager.hoc@caringhomes.org.

Home of Compassion

Home Manager

Avril Jones


58 High Street,
Thames Ditton,

0808 223 5406
View care home

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