Saturday, 6 July 2013

A Gallery Visit: Martin Creed or Crude?

Visit: July 2013

Ferens Art Gallery, Hull

ARTIST ROOMS on tour, Martin Creed  

8 June - 6 October 2013
(photos were not allowed so I tried my best describing!)

So my initial reaction when I walked into the gallery space was that it was clearly contemporary, minimalist art. At this point I was thankful for my years studying all aspects of the art world, so felt prepared for what I was about to experience.

Creed's first piece I came across I actually found interesting, as he had used every paint brush from a packet on each canvas in an almost pyramid type form. Though visually minimal, this piece signified equality and representation, a desire to include every brush which could have been used so not to give importance to a single colour or brush type (I guess).

Unfortunately I was not prepared for the sickening disruption which took me by surprise when viewing the first piece of Creed's work; the sound of vomiting.

As soon as I put an image to the sound, I realised that not one, but FOUR people on multiple screens were sequentially and repeatedly vomiting in white cubed spaces. I guess the only thing separating this vile action from art and non - art was the white walled 'gallery' space each individual vomitted in. Is this Art? Myself? I'm not so sure. Though if art is supposed to trigger a reaction from the viewer, it certainly did that! After reading more on the videos (whilst trying not to cringe as the sounds in the background) I found out that Creed had also made videos of people defecating. I'm almost ashamed to say curiosity got the better of me and I definitely would not recommend viewing this at all! Unless you are a bit more open minded than I am.

As expected before I wrote this post, most of it has been about my negative experience whilst viewing Creed's exhibition. However, I still took time to look at his other pieces and was particularly taken by his 'Work No. 890 Don't Worry, 2008, Yellow Neon.' As suggested by the title, this piece featured a vibrant yellow neon sign spread over a corner of the gallery, spelling out the words 'Don't Worry'. This piece was very striking, and after reading about it I understood that this phrase challenged the viewer's perspective and worry about not understanding art. This is very true when looking at Creed's work as some may call it conceptual, but the artist likes to call himself an expressionist as he believes that all his work conveys feelings and it is impossible to just portray ideas without emotion.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about my experience at Martin Creed's pop-up exhibition. His artwork is extremely controversial and not for the feint-hearted! Even so, his work does challenge how people view art, and how it perhaps should be viewed in today's society. I'm afraid to say even artists of my kind can not yet be fully opened minded when images so crude are presented in the public eye. Personally I value art as a joyful experience.

I just wish I'd seen the warning signs before I entered the exhibition!

A question to ask yourself- 

But is it art?

Review by Carla Taylor

If you want to view his work, you can do so online at