Two of the pieces that featured in the Shoddy exhibition made another appearance on Sunday 4th Sept at the start of DPAC’s week of action.
In a brilliantly orchestrated action, plinths appeared from shopping bags and frames for installations were created from a few poles. Once the artworks were installed, complete with labels, our team of “curators” and “gallery assistants” handed out leaflets and postcards explaining why we were there.
The exhibition, by disabled artists, highlighted the impact of austerity on disabled people felt through the devastating range and scale of cuts experienced since 2010. All the work is online in the Art4Rights gallery.
The exhibition was organised by trade union activists from the PCS Cultural Sector and by DPAC, and included disabled people and allies.
Of course, we quickly caught the attention of gallery staff and security who were wondering how a whole gallery had been sneaked in. PCS had thought of everything, and had produced letters for the staff asking for their support. In the end, the Tate’s staff allowed our guerilla gallery, on the bridge overlooking the ramp to the Turbine Hall, to stay put for the afternoon. Probably because it looked so good! This was a collection of excellent art that didn’t look out of place at all. Those artists can now add Tate Modern to their CVs!
No announcements or chanting were needed to draw visitors to the Art4Rights exhibition. Hundreds of people visited and many of these showed interest in both the art and the issues. Lesley Illingworth was there to talk about her work, so was kept busy throughout – many visitors were keen to talk to one of the artists.
Only a couple of people complained about the exhibition. They threw in a remark aimed at winding us up, then retreated. Otherwise, I don’t think I’ve been involved in an action that met with such a positive reception from the public and from staff. This was undoubtedly down to excellent planning, particularly by colleagues from PCS.
Art4Rights fit Shoddy’s aims so well, it was great that we were able to be part of this exhibition. I might pinch the idea for a future project!
Meanwhile, DPAC’s week of action went on to greater things, including a deputation to Parliament to present their report on the impact of cuts to Independent Living Fund on 6th Sept, followed by a massive and effective blockade of Westminster Bridge on 7th Sept.
A round-up of tweets from the exhibition can be seen here: https://storify.com/Gillcrawshaw/art4rights-guerilla-gallery-4-9-16