Rebecca Warren ‘All That Heaven Allows’

Modern Art and St Ives opening display

Rebecca Warren is the first artist to show in the new gallery at the Tate St Ives.
Her work reminded me of bronzes made in the Bronze Age by the Nuraghic people in Sardinia. Not of their beautifully made, detailed yet simple forms of warriors and boats that are displayed so well in Caglieri Archaeological Museum, but of the crass, badly made feeble approximations offered in the museum shop.
Some look as if she took a Giacometti and dipped it repeatedly into glue. Others are precarious looking, bolted into the floor, a solid bronze construction covered in thick lumpy paint.
I asked a young woman attendant how the artist can afford to use large quantities of bronze and was told it wasn’t that expensive, which is not my experience. To be sure this artist hasn’t got any complex undercut forms, so the molds would be easy to construct, but the sheer quantity of metal would cost quite a lot.
The attendant also told me that the ‘snowman with twig and pompom’ presented on a wheeled platform and made of unfired clay was included by Laura Smith, the curator, to show how Rebecca Warren felt oppressed by tutors at college. Unfortunately, the label indicates nothing of this, so word of this being an object of outrageous incompetence lacking all merit had already reached me via one of St.Ives’ gallery owners.
The gallery’s complicated construction with many small lights had already impressed me as interesting and really more enticing than the sculptures. The size of the room is marvellous, although sadly acoustically. It’s as reverberating and difficult to speak and be heard here as in the other rooms. There is a small carpeted shoes-off space by the cafe offering hope to musicians, speakers or film makers. The largely blank walls make a great background for photos of people, bringing out the subtle variety of their shapes in contrast to the sculpture. In the Guardian guide it says of these works, ‘A slobbering, molten carnality pervades everything this gutsy artist makes’.
I certainly agree with the first two adjectives.
I can’t see Hepworth thinking it’s a fitting exhibition to follow her heritage. It is the opposite of her work in its blobby, bulbous messiness but then, who to suggest would have been better?
As so often I am left wondering how the artist has received such recognition and why and believing surely that there is more lively, relevant and surprising sculpture waiting for an opportunity. Please.

Rebecca Warren ‘All That Heaven Allows’, until 7th January 2018

Mary Fletcher

Mary Fletcher is one of our Cornwall writers

Volume 32 no 3 Jan/Feb 2018 p 35

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Sarah Spaniels
09/03/2018 4:44 am

Thank you Mary for the fun article; it was a pleasure to read. It couldn’t get any better with, “Some look as if she took a Giacometti and dipped it repeatedly into glue.”

Brenda Davis
28/03/2018 11:48 am
Reply to  Sarah Spaniels

Any news about the next Rebecca Warren exhibition? Thanks to all the comments here, I’ve become very curious to see her work.

Hazel Campbell
05/03/2018 12:54 am

I’m glad to know that these spindly sculptures were bolted to the floor, as they don’t give the feeling of being harmonious and well-balanced. During my visit I was quite tempted to see if they would push over.

Charles Windsor
01/03/2018 3:09 am

One more star for Dallas, referring to Darren Jones’, “Dallas Art Fare” in this edition of New Art Examiner:
Rebecca Warren had an exhibition at none other than the Dallas Museum of Art in 2016! Where next? Anyone?

Rebecca Warren: The Main Feeling, Dallas Museum of Art
March 13, 2016 to July 17, 2016 | Hoffman Galleries

Harvey Temple
04/03/2018 3:23 am

So the “blobby, bulbous messiness” of Warren’s work has crossed the ocean.

Arthur Wharton
04/03/2018 12:35 pm

At the same time Rebecca Warren had two outdoor sculptures that were commissioned by the Dallas Museum of Art, thanks to a grant by the Kaleta A. Doolin Foundation, consisting “of two biomorphic forms, each more than 14 feet tall, cast in bronze and hand painted by the artist.” More of the same gooey looking stuff.

Charles Windsor
13/02/2018 4:33 am

Sorry, but I don’t agree with either Mary Fletcher, author of the article, or Liam Morris. (By the way, who exactly is Liam Morris?) You do realize that she was nominated for the famous Turner Prize in 2006 and is also a member of the Royal Academy of Arts? Not only has she exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery and at the Serpentine Galleries here in the UK, just to name a few, but also at the Kunsthalle in Zürich and at the Renaissance Society with the Art Institute of Chicago. For me the intrinsic beauty of Warren’s work is in… Read more »

Adrian Prescott
13/02/2018 7:27 am

Yes, it must be “the stuff”, powerful “stuff”.

Harvey Temple
13/02/2018 7:47 am


Ann Jones
13/02/2018 8:07 am

It all depends on how you manipulate things.

Gina Blanche
13/02/2018 1:59 pm
Reply to  Ann Jones

or what “heaven allows”

06/02/2018 6:55 am

This review is by Mary Fletcher, I am Mary Fletcher.

Liam Morris
11/02/2018 11:33 pm
Reply to  Mary Fletcher

Rebecca Warren’s exhibition at the Tate was truly awful. She tries to justify herself in the run-up interview for this exhibit, “Rebecca Warren: ‘From the mess of experience'”, and I certainly agree with her, it was a mess!

Here’s what she says about her choice of title: “The title for the exhibition came to me quite early on – All That Heaven Allows (from Douglas Sirk’s 1955 film of the same name). Optimism and limitation. No matter what, this is as far as you can go.” Apparently, she has gone as far as she can go.

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