Stiletto and wheels Stiletto title Sole to sole Stiletto

STILETTO – a high pointed HEEL on a woman’s shoe or a small dagger.

WHEELS – a medieval instrument of torture or a vehicle for personal mobility. title
ARTS - September 2008
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We went across to see the Francis Bacon exhibition at the Tate Britain this weekend. Unlike the Tate Modern, Tate Britain does not do a regular Friday and Saturday late night – they do a first Friday (of the month) late night with the Rex Whistler (restaurant) open but that’s it. This didn’t work for us this month, so we had to do a Saturday or Sunday – yuck, weekends are always so crowded, this is a newly opened and well reviewed exhibition and I HATE trying to look at art through crowds of people!

We decided to go late on Saturday but, in the end, we were so late that it wasn’t worth getting one of the headsets for narrative – a one hour running time and we had just forty minutes to get around seventy paintings! We also hadn’t booked parking but they let us in anyway, phew!

The car park is at the back and you are taken to the galleries through the staff entrance and via a lift. Once in, it is wheelchair heaven – smooth, wide spaces, lots of room to manoeuvre, though they have some art thing involving people running through the gallery at the moment so watch out for that. At the time we got there, it was still busy but tolerable to stroll about.

I thought it was a fabulous exhibition. We had seen a previous exhibition of Bacon’s work in New York – according to the exhibition notes here that was in 1989 and I still cannot believe it was so long ago – which I loved. For me, this was even better. The range of work here was wide and more varied than I expected. I particularly loved some of the smaller pieces – head portraits – which seemed simple in construct and yet complex in emotion. There is a massive, visceral, even feral, quality to Bacon's art that sucks out the air and, overall, I felt quite awed - as I do at the physical reality of work by past great masters of Renaissance art. For me, it was that impressive! Wish we’d had the headset and more time tho’. It’s on until January 2009 – must try and get back there for a second viewing!

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