The Tate St Ives

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Art galleries. Don’t you just love them? As my friend Pablo used to say, pass the turps.

The Tate in St Ives has just opened an extension. More of a room really. The Berkeley Squares team packed my bucket and spade and sent me off to explore.

After £20m and 12 years I was expecting more than a 600 square metre concrete box, which is about 10% of the size of football field. Put another way, that’s building at the rate of about half a badminton court per year, with a couple of years off to go surfing –  which you need to if you’re spending that much money.

Well, property is expensive in St Ives and it’s a perfectly nice concrete box. Unless you are looking at it from the outside.

For its opening exhibition, the new room hosted an exhibition by Rebecca Warren who doesn’t seem to have been in great demand elsewhere in the last few years. Perhaps she had been waiting for the Tate to open.

Rebecca Warren has the virtue of being born in Exeter, so she’s almost a local if you live in London – which most decision-makers seem to. These days, art in St Ives is no longer the province of the residents and it’s a long time since the likes of Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth or Sandra Blow set up homes to catch the light. Catching the waves is all the thing now. Unless you’re an internationally acclaimed artist, when catching the money is what its really all about, as Charles Saatchi might have said.

As the Tate’s website puts it, “Warren’s exuberant, roughly-worked sculptures and neon vitrines engage with the canon of art history”. I really have no idea what that means, but I know what I like, and it isn’t this, although I don’t want to jump to conclusions as the new space only had about a dozen of her pieces on show. Perhaps the money ran out. Or perhaps they’re just waiting on a badminton net.