We met Dr. Nericcio at the basement of the former coal power plant. When I had seen the museum a few days earlier, I wondered if it was indeed a former power plant because of the tall smokestack. When Dr. Nericcio pointed that out, I paused to think about the enormity of the transformation of a polluting, environmental damage site to the great and significant art museum that it is. Notable was the fact that the British government made a decision to make museums free to the public. This is great to see that a government can agree to support something that benefits the public. This should be a model for other governments to emulate.
We proceeded to the surreal art galleries and discussed the deeper meaning that kind of art expresses. Dr. Nericcio said that surreal art was created to express the deeper workings of the mind, workings of the unconscious. Since I have studied Freud several times and studied his theories of the unconscious, that was a moment of “ah ha”. Knowing that changed my view of surrealism and created a new interest in it from that psychological perspective. How fascinating that artists are trying to connect to their own deeper minds and express it in their art. With this in mind, while looking at the surreal art, I tried to imagine what might have been going through the artist’s unconscious.
As we went through the galleries, our instruction was to just be open to the painting or sculpture and pick two that we had a noticeable reaction to before reading the description. The first one that struck me that I felt drawn to was ”Inland Australia” by Sidney Nolan.
At first, I thought it was some imagined alien planet landscape or from a planet in the solar system. It also reminded me of landscapes in Arizona and Utah but not a scene I have seen from there. After reading the description, I was fascinated and surprised by the fact is was a scene in Australia. Colorful scenery appeals to me and this painting reminded me of many such scenes both terrestrial and extra terrestrial.
The second painting that evoked an interesting reaction to me was the “Untitled” 2006 Engine steel and copper sulphate by Roger Hiorns.
My first reaction was to wonder why a fossil fuel engine was in this museum coated in blue. When I read the description and found that the coating is made by crystals, I was more intrigued. I also am interested in science and chemistry and the beautiful blue caused by a chemical reaction made it more appealing. I also thought about the parallels of converting the museum building from a coal plant into an art museum with converting an old gasoline engine into an art piece. This piece shows to me a creative and unexpected combination of totally unrelated items.
This museum is definitely worth a second visit while here. Several new concepts were learned in addition to the overall artistic museum experience.