Helensburgh in Tate Modern

On Monday while I was wandering around the Tate Modern I happened across an installation by Abraham Cruzvillegas, which at first glance mystified me.  The feature that caught my eye first was an arrangement across two walls and into a corner of scraps of paper all painted red.  Seeking a bit of enlightenment I read the accompanying wall note; and that well and truly stopped me in my tracks.

It spoke of the artist, originally from Mexico, taking inspiration from time he had spent in the West of Scotland, an interesting juxtaposition in itself; but the more, he had spent time at Cove Park.

I’ve spent time at Cove Park too, so it feels a little like only ‘three degrees of separation’ from the Tate to me.  Yep, it’s delusional, but it felt extraordinarily coincidental.

I spent my teenage years in Helensburgh and it felt like a small enclosed place at the time.  Glasgow, an hour’s train ride away was still rather run down before its revitalisation in the late 1980s and was yet to offer much in the way of bright lights.  I felt as if I was a million miles away from anything interesting.

Cove Park, on the Rosneath peninsular, was not even a glimmer in anyone’s eye, was near the end of a rutted road along the shore of Loch Long.  Now it benefits from the smooth speedy military road built to support the nearby Trident bases, yet provides an inspirational environment for international artists.

The transformation over thirty years is extraordinary, both physically and philosophically.

In a video the artist spoke about collecting scraps of paper, leaflets, tickets and advertising flyers for use in his work, painting over them and treating them all as blind portraits.  He may not be very pleased with me sneaking around to have a look at the back of one of the pieces.

Matt black on one side, the reverse side revealed it to be made up of advertising posters for the Helensburgh Advertiser, the local paper.  ‘Bus Boss Blasts Council’ is an unusually serious headline for the paper, which usually favours things along the lines of ‘Dog Worries Sheep’, or ‘Potholes on Sinclair Street’.

Overall, being painted black and hung in Tate Modern by a Mexican artist exploring what it is to make do and mend with bits of detritus that catch his eye, is the best the newspaper could ever hope for.

Leave a comment


  1. Jill

     /  July 29, 2011

    Wasn’t it Cove Park where you took Marmite’s photo?

    • Hi Jill, yes. Marmite’s been there too! It’s also the view at the top of my blog page….. I love it there; and it’s fantastic to see it at Tate.


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