British Folk Art. Tate Britain, until 30th August 2014
This is the greatest fun and it does make one wonder why the British do not show as much interest in their folk art as other countries do. Paintings, drawings, sculptures, textiles and objects have been gathered from collections around the country for what is a real celebration and they range in date from the seventeenth to the mid-twentieth century.
Ship figureheads, leather Toby jugs, the larger than life figure of King Alfred created in 1960 by master thatcher Jesse Maycock, pin cushions made by soldiers in the Crimean War and fishermen’s’ maritime embroidery are just some of the items to be seen. Many are on the boundary between art and artefact and challenge our perceptions of art in a positive way.
While the creators of many of the pieces may not be known others are such as the exquisite embroiderer Mary Linwood (surely her picture of Rembrandt’s mother must be based on the one at Wilton House?), the Cornish painter Alfred Wallis, whose works certainly do transcend the barrier, and certainly not forgetting George Smart the tailor of Frant.
I think that this exhibition certainly shows that one cannot easily dismiss folk art as just a part of social history for surely it is part of the fabric of the nation?