Ruinlust (Tate Britain)

Okay, so I’m way behind with writing these reviews..

I went up to Tate Britain, the ‘old’ Tate Gallery building on Millbank, to see the Ruinlust exhibition: “ the mournful, thrilling, comic and perverse uses of ruins in art from the seventeenth century to the present day” it says on the website. As a great enthusiast for ruins in art and photography, and in fact ruins in general, I thought I had to give this one a go.

It’s not a big exhibition, but it’s a good one  The usual suspects are there of course – paintings of Tinturn Abbey and a bit of Piranese – but of course an exhibition like this needs them to be anything like complete. It was nice to see them up close too as you can see all the detail. There was also lots by artists I didn’t know and by allowing the concept of ‘ruins’ to be quite loose the curators brought in some nice stuff which was more about urban decay I thought than ruins in the strict sense of the word.  As a major bunker enthusiast I loved the huge image by Jane and Louise Wilson of an Atlantic Wall bunker at Azeville which features on the poster and which is even more impressive ‘on the wall’. If you look at other, purely representational, photos of the Azeville battery such as this one you realise the extent to which this photo is every bit as much an artistic representation of a ruin as Turner and Tinturn is!

If there was something which I thought was missing, it was anything representative of the Urbex movement which so powerfully captures ruins in modern photography, and which I thought would have been essential


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