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Ruin Lust Exhibition - Tate Britain

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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A Love of all Things Lost
paul nash, pillar and moon, tate britain, ruin lust
Paul Nash, 'Pillar and Moon', 1932-42

Why do we travel miles to other countries to see piles of rubble? Why are we fascinated by a weathered rock behind the glass of a museum display case? We seem to have an insatiable lust for things that have been left in ruins. Perhaps it is because it is a connection to our past, or maybe because it fires our imagination about what the original structure may have looked at. Either way, ruins have inspired generations of archeologists, historians, artists, and the average joe like you and me.

In an exhibition at Tate Britain, the gallery explores our Ruin Lust through centuries of paintings, starting from the 1700s up to present day.

Tickets are 11 for adults, 9.50 concessions, and you can visit until the 18th May.There will be over a hundred works by artists such as J.M.W. Turner, John Constable, John Martin, Eduardo Paolozzi, Rachel Whiteread, and Tacita Dean.

For example, John Constable's Sketch for 'Hadleigh Castle' is a six-foot oil painting on canvas, from circa 1928-9. When making his preliminary sketches in Essex, Constable said, 'At Hadleigh there is a ruin of a castle which from its situation is a really fine place - it commands a view of the Kent hills, the Nore and North Foreland & looking many miles to sea.'

Modern takes on ruins have taken a less Romantic approach, and moved to mockery, as can be seen from Keith Arnatt's photography series from 1982-4. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty juxtaposes modern structures up against historic ruins, as a way of joking at those who say the rubble is more picturesque.

Ruins include structures that have decayed over time, but also places that have faced apocalyptic destruction, such as Jon Martin's The Destruction of Pompeii.

As well as paintings, there will be film installations by Tacita Dean and Gerard Byrne, who look at themes of obsolescence and alternative futures.

There will be accompanying events such as a curator's tour on the 28th March and an artist's talk on the 29th April.
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Why? Fun for art lovers
When: Until 18th May
Phone: 44 (0)20 7887 8888
Where: Tate Britain
Cost: 11 adult, 9.50 concessions
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