Perhaps this has been showing a little more obviously of late on the school run, as last Friday I got abducted at the school gates by 2 lovely mummy friends, who marched me onto a bus and off to Tate Modern for some down time. I have The Best friends and The Most Understanding of work colleagues...
Going round the exhibit was like fresh air being pumped into my lungs. Matisse: The Cut-Outs is a joy. Refreshing, vibrant and perfect for Curious-George types. Seeing the video footage of Matisse slide through his gouach painted paper with huge fabric cutting shears, slicing out his shapes as if he were drawing outlines in the sand was food for my soul. I always design with a pencil, rubber and light box, but my real tools are my scissors. I'm a terrible artist (all of my past art teachers from school will wholeheartedly agree with this statement, particularly Mr Kite who kicked me out of Art GCSE after some hairbrained scheme did not go the way I had planned), but with scissors I can make the pictures in my head come alive. Seeing Matisse, an artist so revered and worshiped creating such beauty with his enormous scissors made me feel so at home. I yearned for my past life as a greeting card designer and maker, the joy of cutting and working with paper.
And wow - such huge writing he had.
And wow - such beautiful assistants he had. As my friend suggested half way around the exhibit - do you think that was part of the Matisse's Assistant Application Process? "Are they beautiful enough to be my assistant?" I spent my teens and twenties hanging out with artists of a certain age at the Chelsea Arts Club, and I think I can in good faith say yes, it would have been.
I loved the layers, the pins, the colours, the shapes, the lack of immediate commitment in the process. I need to try things out before I commit, test things for a while to see how the design fits with me and what I need it for. Can it be changed, improved either functionally or aesthetically. A product that I have designed and made has to prove itself to me and bring joy into my heart before I am happy. This method of creating the composition with the shapes, moving them, editing, covering stains on walls (I LOVE THIS) made the work seem so much more real, more alive.
Every room brought yet more joy, The Fall of Icarus (a postcard of this lived in our bathroom when I was growing up, seeing the real thing was exciting), Matisse's huge handwriting and notes, the gouach painted sample set of Matisse's off cuts, the man himself's golden hat, seeing him work high ceilings with his home made Charcoal Wand and the beautiful, beautiful work in Room 7 for the chapel in Vence - a thank you to the nuns who had nursed him in his ill health.
Seeing the Blue Nudes together was a treat - I really enjoyed seeing the editing of their form in slightly differing blues. I made endless notes of the pieces that I fell in love as I wandered through the rooms - pieces to look up in reference books to savour at a later date, but when I got home I realised that for me the joy was seeing this work actually there in front of me - seeing his cuts and slices through the paper, the pins and the pin holes where changes were made. They were so real. So much art is perfect, it is hard to believe there is a human mind behind it. This showed us the working mind behind the pretty pictures. And what joyous images they are.
But I was left with one pressing question. What glue did they use? No wrinkling, no tearing, no peeling. I am mystified.
I absolutely loved it. Go see it while it is here in London.
Matisse: The Cut-Outs at Tate Modern, until 7 September 2014 (Adult ticket £18).
To see what I design and make: www.creatureclothes.com
Big big thanks to Tash & Kelly for the abduction, and to Mandy for covering my ass while I skived off work...