British Art Show 8 tour, 21 November

Posted on Tuesday 24th November 2015

Sarah Brown with Caroline Achaintre's textiles

The British Art Show takes place every 5 years, and this year opened at Leeds Art Gallery (until 10 January) before touring to Edinburgh, Norwich and Southampton.

This huge and diverse exhibition - encompassing sculpture, film, video, photography, painting and performance by 42 artists – was undoubtedly a challenge to display but the team at the art gallery have done a magnificent job.

Our visit began in the Ziff Gallery where classically-trained opera singer Bibi interpreted the work of Cally Spooner – a rousing six-minute libretto on the subject of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong made up of comments left on YouTube.

In the Upper Galleries the beautiful and sensitive portraits by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye are even more extraordinary when we learned that they are all drawn from memory and completed within a day. In complete contrast the large-scale abstract Sea Painting by Jessica Warboys which hangs above the stair well is specific to this venue – made by scattering pigment onto canvas and allowing the waves and wind of the Yorkshire coast to determine the distribution of the paint. She will make a new painting for each leg of the exhibition.

Elsewhere film and video feature prominently, textiles and clay – usually associated with folk art – are rediscovered as fine art, a 1979 Mini chassis stands as testament to industrial action. There is far too much on display to mention everything here – you really will have to come and see it for yourself.

It is an exhibition which can seem daunting at first, so a huge thank-you must go to Programme Curator Sarah Brown whose tour was enlightening and accessible. It certainly prompted a lively discussion over coffee and cake in the Tiled Hall afterwards.