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Anthea Hamilton: The Squash Commission Review - Tate Britain

22nd March – 7th October 2018



Anthea Hamilton surprises us yet again in her latest piece, The Squash, at the Tate Britain till October. This time she takes a photocopied picture from art college, its creator forgot: a striped figure with the head of a squash. She brings this creature to life as she did a couple of years ago in the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, delving into performance art. Now, given the freedom of the Duveen Galleries, a performer winds through the rooms between sculptures: some Henry Moores and a central Henry Laurens.

Vinelike, the squash-person creeps over the white square tiles and blocky plinths that efface the floor beneath, that make the space canvas-bright. Their squash heads turn, only dimly aware of their audience, and turn back to climb on a plinth, unsteady, as if just emerged from the soil. There is something tender in their movements, even touching. Made with Jonathan Anderson, Hamilton’s gawdy costumes - ridged, marbled, stripy, frilly - are chosen by the performer on the day. The playfulness of the piece is characteristic of Hamilton’s earlier work, often as amusing as bemusing. It is possible that such an apparently simple installation will exhaust itself after six months, but the choreographed performers, fourteen of them on rotation, are set to bring something new to each performance.

Two years after Hamilton hosted Kettle’s Yard Reimagined at the Hepworth Wakefield, the Cambridge gallery, once dubbed an ‘Antimuseum’, is open again. If you haven’t been before, Kettle’s Yard is an eclectic gallery of modernist and contemporary works, scattered in the intimate living space of the collectors, Jim and Helen Ede. You can sit in an Orkney chair, see work by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska in their loft and paintings by Alfred Wallis in their bathroom. If that doesn’t sell it, there’s now a café.

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