Drawing on the familiar

Tracey Emin, I didn’t say I couldn’t love you, 2011

I’ll start by owning up to the fact that I wouldn’t have gone to see She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea, Tracey Emin’s exhibition at Turner Contemporary in Margate, if there hadn’t been a couple of other things on show outside the gallery that I particularly wanted to see. Over the years, Emin has made quite a lot of work I really like but most of it has been video and, with a few exceptions, I’m not crazy about her drawings, prints and paintings. But I was there so it would have been foolhardy not to take a look. I’ve seen enough of Emin’s work to know that at its best it can be genuinely affecting and that sometimes even the small, almost throw-away, drawings can be funny and occasionally hit a nerve or tell some sort of universal truth.

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Make do and mend

Zoe Leonard, Strange Fruit (for David) (detail), 1992-97

There is something sad and touching about emptied out fruit stitched back up in a futile attempt at mending. But there’s also something about it that amuses me in a way. I think in Zoe Leonard’s installation Strange Fruit (for David) the thing that both moves me and makes me smile is the scale of the thing. It feels like a point that could have been made with a few pieces has taken control and not let Leonard stop; the empty fruit are scattered liberally across the floor, filling the space. In total roughly three hundred pieces of fruit have had their peel or skin dried out and put back together with stitching or other forms of fixing or adornment.

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After dark

Michael Raedecker, Ins and Outs, 2000

There’s something about houses in the middle of nowhere. In some respects I can see the attraction of living in a modernist box surrounded by trees, although clearly in practice I’d miss the tube and being able to get to galleries and theatres and the cinema and decent shops and, oh, the list goes on but it gets too boring to type. In the end though, surprisingly, it’s not fear of not being in London that’s the biggest factor, it’s the fear of just not knowing what’s out there. Okay, so being in a hermetically sealed glass box might be warm and safe but if you can’t see what’s outside, well, it could be anything.

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