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Tate Britain

  • Art
  • Millbank
  • price 0 of 4
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Tate Britain (Lukas Birk / Time Out)
    Lukas Birk / Time Out
  2. Martin Creed slow London (Ed Marshall / Time Out)
    Ed Marshall / Time Out
  3. Tate Britain (Britta Jaschinski / Time Out)
    Britta Jaschinski / Time Out
  4. Tate Britain exhibition (Tony Gibsom / Time Out)
    Tony Gibsom / Time Out
  5. Tate Britain exhibits

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Tate Modern gets all the attention, but the original Tate Gallery, founded by sugar magnate Sir Henry Tate, has a broader and more inclusive brief. Housed in a stately Portland stone building on the riverside, Tate Britain is second only to the National Gallery when it comes to British art. It’s also looking to steal back a bit of the limelight from its starrier sibling with a 20-year redevelopment plan called the Millbank Project: conserving the building’s original features, upgrading the galleries, opening new spaces to the public and adding a new café. The art here is exceptional. The historical collection includes work by Hogarth, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Constable (who gets three rooms) and Turner (in the superb Clore Gallery). Many contemporary works were shifted to the other Tate when it opened, but Stanley Spencer, Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon are all well represented, and Art Now installations showcase up-and-coming British artists. Temporary exhibitions include headline-hungry blockbusters and the annual controversy-courting Turner Prize exhibition (September-January). The gallery has a good restaurant and an exemplary gift shop.


Tube: Pimlico/Vauxhall
Free (permanent collection); admission charge applies for some temporary exhibitions
Opening hours:
Daily 10am-6pm (last admission for special exhibitions 5.15pm)
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What’s on

Sarah Lucas: ‘Happy Gas’

  • 4 out of 5 stars

Sarah Lucas’s art isn’t big, and it isn’t clever. But who says art needs to be either of those things? Maybe, instead, art can be vulgar, puerile, obscene, grotesque and childish. As soon as you walk into this big look back across her career, you meet a mechanical hand tossing off an invisible man, a wax cock on a wooden chair, a wall of tabloid tits, and lists of words for shit and wanking. Not big, not clever, but funny, shocking and, genuinely, deeply insightful.  Lucas came to national attention as part of the shock and awe Blitzkrieg of the YBAs, but rather than death, love or murder (like her contemporaries Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Marcus Harvey), she was interested in the nitty, gritty, grimy sludge of everyday existence; in sex, excrement, masturbation, cigarettes, filth, the body and putridity. The hows and whys of the things we hide or say under our breath. It’s an evisceration of norms and standards and societal expectations After the opening room with its tabloid titillation and foul mouthed nastiness, you get a hall of chairs, each lounged over by twisting, undulating female forms. Her sculptures, made of tights and wool at first, are contorted into impossible shapes, wrapped around backrests and chair legs, their buttocks spread, boobs sagging and tangled. Some are in high heels, some have dozens of breasts, some are bronze, some are resin. They’re all faceless, called things like ‘Slag’, ‘Honey Pie’ and ‘Sex Bomb’, draped over armchairs and office chairs.

‘Women In Revolt!’

  • 4 out of 5 stars

If anger is an energy, there’s enough here to power the Tate for decades. The gallery is buzzing with the violent ire and shrieking fury of second-wave feminism, because after all the freedom and liberation promised by the Swinging Sixties, British women in the 1970s had to deal with the reality: that not much had changed. And they were furious. This is an exhibition of 100 feminist artists and collectives kicking violently against the system. It’s a sprawling, complex mess of a show. It opens with photos of marches and Women’s Liberation conferences, equal pay placards and protest posts, a world where society was being remade, and art was too. The most interesting early art here uses performance and photography. Penny Slinger presents herself as a cake, ready for male consumption, Anne Bean screams underwater, Hannah O’Shea covers herself in animal markings, Cosey Fanni Tutti cuts wound-like holes in her clothes, Helen Chadwick transforms herself into a kitchen. Performance and its documentation allowed these artists to centre themselves, to tell stories with their own bodies. They became their own zines, their own pamphlets and placards. Their bodies became weapons against sexism, domesticity, the burden of care. 1970s anger became its own movement. Punk is everywhere here; it’s in Linder’s iconic photographic montages and meat-draped performance with her band Ludus, it’s in The Raincoats’ Gina Birch’s incessant ear-piercing scream film, Delta 5’s Chila Kumari Singh Burman’

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