Tate Britain: Ruin Lust

Tate Britain: Ruin LustWords by Billie Jenkins

I still remember the fear and racing excitement the first time I entered a derelict building with a camera. At a younger age my family would drive out to the pub near Hellingly asylum, a small, insular village shut down in the early nineties. We would always pull over and take a peek through the barbed fences at the sad collection of rubble and forgotten objects that lay in front of a once elegant entrance. At seventeen I finally found friends who drove me out to the site, and rather than turn around at the gates they brought me through a hole in the fence and into the surreal mix of old grandeur and decay we set off. Once loved architecture left to fend against the elements has always been a fascination. Today ‘Ruin Lust’ starts at the Tate Britain, a collection celebrating the derelict and ruined in art over the ages. From a curatorial perspective it is always fascinating when there is an attempt to bring together stylistically disparate works through a single theme, yet with the works on show already published it looks to be a fantastic success. Modern heroes including David Shrigley, John Stezaker and Keith Arnatt sit alongside 18th C imaginings of the final coming. There is a lot to be thought about, running relations between the state of society and it’s surrounding architecture is a heavy presence, and beautiful relationships are built between geometry and texture are built. The question in my head was whether that excitement and pleasure from abandoned buildings that can be found in every A level photography class and probably studies alike come from something before design gets involved, maybe we are tentatively admitting we enjoy the chaos of it all.

Ruin Lust‘ opens today at the Tate Britain and runs until the end of May.

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