Weekend inspiration: two Tates

I’m reading the autobiography of Vivienne Westwood at the moment which is particularly enjoyable and fascinating not merely because I’m interested in amazing people and indeed fashion, but also because so much of the action takes place at the World’s End, around five minutes’ walk from our studio on Lots Road.

There’s a section of the book where Westwood discusses how much art has inspired her work and in particular how it’s important to really observe and then keep on observing a piece of art, long after others have wandered on. I confess I’ve always found this particular discipline a challenge, so as an exercise against my impatience, in art galleries I try to find a few key pieces of work which catch my attention and really stop, take a breath and observe.

This resolution struck me anew at the weekend when I managed the peculiar personal triumph of visiting both of London’s Tate galleries, first Modern on Saturday afternoon, where I became completely absorbed in the rooms of drawings of Louise Bourgeois (part of the current ‘Works on Paper’ exhibit).

I’d hitherto only really known of her sculptural work so these were a pleasure to discover. In particular I enjoyed Ode á la Bièvre, and my quick iPhone photo of that piece is below:



‘Ode á la Bièvre’ by Louise Bourgeois


From my perspective it’s instantly visually arresting and sends sparks through my brain as being an inspiring crossover between art and design. Put at its simplest, in the above, pieces of fabric relevant to the theme of the work are framed. Discarding the messages and history of the fabric, I became thrilled with what I was looking at – I love the palette used as well as the textures and patterns. I took a quick snap (photography is allowed!) but mainly as a visual reference of something I considered very beautiful.


View down the staircase from the Members’ room at Tate Britain.


Then yesterday I made a trip to Tate Britain. I’d not been in a few years and reading my book, suddenly was struck with delight by the challenge of doing both galleries in a single weekend and headed down to Pimlico.

I walked through the building from the Millbank entrance, and turning a corner, I saw the huge mural below and suddenly – brainstorm! – for me there was a link between the two visits. I was struck with the answer to a brief we’re working on at the moment.  



‘Drawing for free thinking’ by David Tremlett  


The project we’ve been working on is nearly complete, in fact, and at the editing stage. It’s a report with a geometric design theme, part of the brief. We’ve completed one idea and suddenly the second, with a vanishing point, seemed a logical next step in our creative process. And so, like millions before me, art inspires, rather unexpectedly.

And all from a huge painting entitled ‘Drawing for free thinking‘.

How appropriate.