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Artist Louise Hewitt reviews the Turner Prize 2021 at Herbert Art Gallery and Museum
8 November 2021
Venture Arts artist Louise Hewitt is passionate about visiting museums and galleries, gaining inspiration for her own art and poetry.
In her bi-monthly blog Louise reviews an exhibition she has attended, giving an insight in to how it made her think and feel. For this, her fourth blog, Louise visited the Turner Prize 2021 exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, to give her own perspective on this year's shortlist. This is the first time that five collectives have been nominated, opposed to individual artists. The five collectives are: Array Collective, Black Obsidian Sound System, Cooking Sections, Gentle/ Radical and Project Art Works. Over to Louise...
The exhibition sounded intriguing and interesting. I haven’t been to the Herbert before and I also have never attended a Turner Prize exhibition before and thought it would be intriguing and interesting to see how they laid out this exhibit. A warning though - be aware that some of these exhibits can be quite overwhelming and emotional, and some of the exhibits are in dark rooms as well. Also, The Herbert, based in Coventry and located opposite the University of Coventry, to me felt cold and soulless, with really high ceilings.
The installation that made me feel very emotional was by Gentle/Radical. This is because it was very moving and emotional on different levels of social change. The way the people are looking for hope and inspiration was quite emotional and very deep. Why can’t people accept other people just because they don’t have the same values? There are too many radical differences in this world, and these things need to change. How can we grow as a society without change? I hope one day there is a world where everything is better and different from the way things are now.
The installation by Array Collective sparked my interest. It was a piece of artwork based on an Irish pub scene. Very moving and very powerful. A beautiful and amazing art display. I felt quite connected to this in a personal way due to my family's Irish routes. I feel that the people of Belfast have come a long way. This display has inspired me, but in a more personal and emotional way. The flag was also amazing and had beautiful colours. The ceiling was amazing and full of different and wonderful colours.
The installation that inspired me the most though was by Project Art Works. This installation told a beautiful story about the place. The display kind of reminded me of the work we do at Venture Arts. The two artists that inspired me most were Neville Jermyn and Carl Saxton. The first piece of art to inspire me was by Carl Saxton, Untitled, 2021. This piece of artwork kind of reminds me of a beautiful and very long elegant quilt cover for a single bed. The paint splodges against a large black background, made me think of the smell of scented flowers and it made me want to smile. The second artwork here to inspire me was Neville Jermyn, Barbary Ape, 2014. This piece of artwork is truly incredible and magical to look at. The detailing to the Barbary Ape is truly spectacular. It brings a great deal of likeness and feeling of life and movement to this most majestic and powerful creature.
There are two installations that I didn’t like as much - Black Obsidian Sound System and Cooking Sections. With Black Obsidian Sound System, the main explanation to the piece was very difficult for me to understand. The display also appeared to be dark and shadowy, and I did not quite understand how all the things went together. I found this exhibit very confusing indeed and I felt left in the dark, more than anything else. It was a bit of a sensory overload for an autistic person.
The second installation that I did not understand was by Cooking Sections. It was very difficult to understand and for me, there was not enough information about it. I did however like the graphics they used for this piece.
I think the potential winner for the Turner Prize 2021 is Project Art Works. Their work was truly amazing and inspiring. The work was thoughtful and very well laid out. There was plenty of information to explain to the public what their exhibit was truly about. I would like to meet this organisation and learn more about them. Maybe collaborate on some kind of art project with them one day in the future.
Final thoughts. My overall view of the exhibition as a neurodivergent artist is that I found parts of this exhibition overwhelming. This was often due to there being dark rooms, bright lights, triggering messages, and some of the exhibits were very difficult to work out what was going on.