Monday, May 28, 2007

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

I had a great day today, visting MIMA - Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, with Mum.

Built in the civic quarter of the town and opened in January this year, it is a splendid glass iconic building housing the best of modern art. If you want to learn more about MIMA click on the title of this entry to go to the widipedia entry.

The first gallery housed a very special exhibition "Notebook" 2004 by John Wood and Paul Harrison.

We sat mesmerised for at least 40 of the 50 minutes that the film runs for, in company with a man, his two toddlers and his mate and two couples, sitting on benches round the wall in front of the big screen. Later as we walked round the rest of the gallery we found a window where a further dozen, with their noses pressed to the window, continued to watch from above.

The film takes place in a plain white room, probably a portacabin but certainly a very plain office room. The main feature is a white rectangular table, upon which, at about 20 second intervals, marvellous things occur. My personal favourite was the deck chair, which you will see if you click on the link I gave above.

A white deckchair sits adjacent to the table. On the table are a dozen or so "matchpots" of different coloured paints. As we watch the matchpots, fastened to a small plank, tip up and start to pour down the back of the deck chair, creating the colourful stripes so beloved of seaside scenes.

In another favourite, a dozen boats have been made out of blue napkins. They blow gently along the table and gather together at the other end, grouping just before the table edge.

As I watched I marvelled at the hours the artists must have spent, measuring, calculating, trying and testing before creating their perfection.
The toddlers were at least as fascinated as the grandmother I sat next to. Any work of art that reaches so many people of such differing types has to be a winner.

We wandered off round the further four galleries and exhibition spaces, I noted two Augustus Johns, two Lowry's (both of the old Middlesbrough Town Hall), some fabulous Bridget Riley's created in 1965 and even a Tracy Emin.
Brian Sewell, as I recall, thought the MIMA was wasted on the people of the North, I think he said the same about the Angel of the North and presumably also Gormley's other masterpiece, the iron men of Crosby. Just shows what he knows!

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