Art Travelling: London and the Caribbean – Hew Locke

“a complicated, messy kind of beauty” – Hew Locke

Hew Locke The Procession

Hew Locke’s The Procession is the latst commisison by the Tate Britain. It is a large installation in the Duveen galleries, presenting a Carnival procession reminiscent of those still celebrated in the Caribbean and nearby regions with migrant African cultures such as New Orleans. The Procession adopts many of the references that Locke has been returning to throughout his career, such as medals from colonial military adventures and battles, instruments of financial and political power and memento more.

Locke talks about his work on the show here I urge you to watch this video it’s really interesting!!!

I was fortunate to share the stage with Locke when I gave a lecture at the National Gallery. He talked about his life and work and his upbringing in Guyana and his work as a British artist. His work is absolutely beautiful as well as deeply thoughtful. I have a number of friends who work for him as studio assistants – all of them excellent artists in their own right – and they contributed to The Procession.

“I’m trying. to tackle big subjects over centuries. .. to make something attractive to draw people in and then start. to question what the imagery is all about” – Hew Locke

A procession is part and parcel of the cycle of life; people gather and move together to celebrate, worship, protest, mourn, escape or even to better themselves. This is the heart of Hew Locke’s ambitious new project, The Procession.

The Procession invites visitors to ‘reflect on the cycles of history, and the ebb and flow of cultures, people and finance and power.’ Tate Britain’s founder was art lover and sugar refining magnate Henry Tate. In the installation Locke says he ‘makes links with the historical after-effects of the sugar business, almost drawing out of the walls of the building,’ also revisiting his artistic journey so far, including for example work with statues, share certificates, cardboard, rising sea levels, Carnival and the military.

Throughout, visitors will see figures who travel through space and time. Here, they carry historical and cultural baggage, from evidence of global financial and violent colonial control embellished on their clothes and banners, alongside powerful images of some of the disappearing colonial architecture of Locke’s childhood in Guyana.

The installation takes inspiration from real events and histories but overall, the figures invite us to walk alongside them, into an enlarged vision of an imagined future.

“What I try to do in my work is mix ideas of attraction and ideas of discomfort – colourful and attractive, but strangely, scarily surreal at the same time.” Hew Locke

The Procession is on until Jan 2023, which to my mind is not long enough. GO.