Tate Modern Presents: British Comic Art
Big Chill 2010: Rude Britannia

Whether it’s the culmination of mud and torrential rain, or the soaked-through socks and drinking weak tea from polystyrene cups, there’s just something quintessentially British about UK Festivals. From seeing someone accidently leave their welly in the mud mid-stroll, to your mates using their festival programme to shield their pies from the drizzle, it just wouldn’t happen at Benecassim or any other sun-soaked European festivals. But deep, deep down, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

So in the name of all things British, Tate Modern’s Rude Britannia display at The Big Chill couldn’t be more fitting. The comedic exhibition is currently showing at the gallery and investigates British humour and art from the 1600s up until the present day. The display has been put together by the country’s best known cartoonist and comedy writers to incorporate paintings, sculptures, film and photography. There will also be an array of graphic art and comic books showcased.

Co-curated by Programmer of Tate Media, Cedar Lewisohn and The Big Chill’s Katrina Larkin, the on-site version of the popular exhibition will feature a selection of some of the best features from the usually Millbank –based display. The artistic presentation will see politicians brought down to size, as well as a wide range of slapstick fun and new collaborations, all for the enjoyment of festival-goers at The Big Chill. “We’ve been working on a number of collaborations and are taking some aspects of Rude Britannia, which is currently at the gallery, to the festival and to a new audience,” explained Cedar. “We’ve got artists like Doug Fishbone and David Shrigley. So it should be really fun and it should be really interesting.”

Doug Fishbone is an American artist living and working in London, who first became known for his project ‘30,000 Bananas’, a huge mountain of ripe bananas installed in the middle of Trafalgar Square. Widely known for his work with video, Fishbone’s most recent video involved him hypnotizing an entire audience and manipulating their behaviour. Currently working on a feature film in Ghana, his exhibition at The Big Chill looks set to be hugely memorable.

Another featured artist is David Shrigley. Most famous for his humorous cartoons (featured weekly in The Guardian’s Weekend magazine) and postcards, Shrigley is also recognised for his spoken word works. Having since gone on to author several books and direct music videos, including Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s ‘Agnes, Queen of Sorrow’ and Blur’s ‘Good Song’, his on-site exhibition is likely to be hugely diverse and well worth a look.

Running all weekend, this is the first time The Big Chill has featured exhibitions from a gallery on-site and Cedar knows it is a tall order. “It is daunting, but then if a project you’re working on doesn’t make you nervous, there’s a problem. There’s such a natural link between art and music, even just in terms of album covers and so it isn’t a radical departure from what festival fans will be used to,” explained Cedar. “ The challenge comes from the need to create a new space and new type of project which is art, has amazing integrity, can be thought about, considered and everything else that you do in an art gallery. But also to be able to make it work when we’re in the context of this massive, heaving, noisy, massively populated field!”

Words by Laura Routledge



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