Do you know how to blanket stitch?

After the Estorick I crept on a very slow bus to the White Cube, Mason’s Yard. for Tracey Emin’s show. No peering here. This atmosphere was all loud voices and posh scent. I’m obviously not used to St. James’ gallery up market tempo. There was a jittery animation and the title in green neon. Downstairs the huge work begins. That filled me with huge respect, reminded me,  how authoratitive.

I completely disagree with the Telegraph’s comment, ‘an idiot savant outsider who represents no one but herself’ . I felt so closely involved by the work I was shocked when a group of noisy young men came bouncing down the stairs. ‘Hey no, you can’t come in, go away!’ 

 Some scraps of material were made with sitiches so tiny I could hardly see if it was sewing or drawing. The mono prints where some of the writing is forwards and some backwards create doubt about what we’re allowed to read.

I went to see the exhibition in the South London Gallery in 1997. The thing that irks me now as then is the crass slogans ‘I need art like I need god’ and this one, ‘Those who suffer love’

But the huge blankets are truly wonderful and masterful, telling me what’s what, communicate directly intimately with me as a woman in my forties.

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Do you know how to blanket stitch?

Machine à habiter

Le Corbusier at the Barbican

This exhibition was frustrating to begin with. Why must they establish such a banging narrative? But the second part, where you could just mill around taking in the materials and documentation, offered a chance to admire the work of the great man. Altogether it made me want to go and visit the buildings themselves again-I’d go to Marseilles to visit the Unité. There was the picture of the nursery children playing on the roof, something they were probably never allowed to do again.

The most interesting exhibits are the contact prints, models and annotated drawings part of the design process. The drawings on discoloured paper look fragile but it was moving to see the lighting and heating drawings that looked so simple, hand labeled in those kind of capital letters I tried hard to copy when I was at architectural school. 

There was film footage of the Indian workers carrying up the concrete in large metal bowls. Amongst contacts from the work of Lucien Hervé was a picture of rows of workers standing at the top of the shuttering amongst the forest of reinforcement bars pouring in the concrete by hand. 

To experience the ideas themselves you must visit the buildings, which you can easily do, next time you’re in Paris, Marseilles, Ronchamp. Or you can see Le Corbusier’s influence on London architects in the Golden Lane Estate.  next door. On my way out cycling away, the glass clad office buildings surrounding the Barbican just looked a mess. Could be reverence or reference, placing artfully massed ventilation shafts in the piazza.

Machine à habiter