Sunday, 29 July 2012

WMG Grand Re-Opening

All the familiar objects are there, and the layout of the house is almost untouched, apart from a new door into the re-created east wing with tea-room, toilets and lift to the upper floors. 
There was a formal re-opening last week and from 2 August the Gallery is open again, after an amazingly short period - free entry as ever - and both the new parts and the re-interpretation are worth  assessing.  The  first temporary exhibition features Grayson Perry’s great Walthamstow tapestry with its exuberantly crude imagery.   He was at the re-opening, and will be giving a tapestry tour on 30 August, plus a Q&A on 4 September.
 Picture of the front door above, and below the tea-room extension from the rear,overlooking Lloyd Park.  On Wednesday evening it looked and felt festive.  Then my camera battery ran out.
Morris's spirit, in its SPAB incarnation, was no doubt watching the renovations carefully, since he is really the founder of the whole architectural conservation and re-use heritage movement in Britain.
As a creator of large, pictorial tapestries, he just might have approved of Grayson's, in principle. In practice, he might have bellowed profanities  against its motifs - so different from Burne-Jones's Holy Grails - and possibly against its mechanisation, whereby the thousands of threads are woven together automatically. But the pictures of youngsters at Merton Abbey  knotting away behind the looms don't encourage any valorisation of hand work per se.
PS  Speaking of heritage, we might easily have had a traditional Queen & Country, Navy and National Trust type celebration at the Olympic opening.  Instead, it was a quasi-marxist pageant, outlining the transition from agricultural-rural to urban-industrial society, and beyond.  I half-expected Morris to make a cameo appearance, but he is perhaps not yet as globally popular as Mr Bean.

PPS  a critic's view of the renovation - see Alastair Sooke's piece here

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