Tate Modern Wall Cuts 1996

In 1996 I was invited by David Thorp, who was then the director of the South London Gallery to make works at the former Bankside Power Station. The building was being emptied and the redevelopment of the site began the transformation into Tate Modern. The finished works would form part of an exhibition of other artists who were commissioned to make paintings, drawings and photographs.

At first the arrangement was complicated; I had to call someone from the Tate who would come down, open the door, lock me in and then return when I was finished. I was required to buy a mobile phone. This proved impossible as I did not work to prescribed times. So, after some discussions I was given the keys to the Tate. For three months I had unfettered access to Tate modern. I used the doors of the offices to make tables and I had them placed in different areas of the building. I made drawings, took photographs and began cutting into the walls.

I made nine works. There was a series of tours for invited guests to see the progress of the Tate refurbishment and two of them included viewing my works.

I left the building and simply abandoned the work and most of the works on paper. 

Although the original wall cuts no longer exist, I have subsequently made large scale photo montage’s from my documentation of the final pieces. These were first shown for the Parallax exhibition at the John Hansard Gallery in Southampton, 2011. 

Below: experimenting with slide film for the large scale photographs.

Image courtesy of Richard Wentworth

Interior and exterior of Tate Modern during redevelopment

Adrian Hardwick and Mel Gooding

Terry Smith

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