Hayward Gallery

This is a very quick review of a show I have seen once, and will return to as soon as possible: Jeremy Deller’s big exhibition at Hayward Gallery.

If anyone deserved a big, expansive show, serving up a comprehensive range of mixed media works, it’s Deller. An artist whose vision is critical and whose perspective is enquiring, his work is provocative but never for the sake of provocation. It’s thoughtful and at the same time playful. Deller does not pull his punches, but all is mediated by a strong and deep sense of humanity.

I DEEPLY WELCOMED Valerie’s, a real working replica cafe (replica of an actual cafe in Bury Market) that served real, free cups of tea. How wonderful in the middle of an exhibition!

I WAS MOVED AND IMPRESSED BY Deller’s superb banners. I especially liked “Our Ancestors Were at Peterloo.” Thanks, we needed that reminder! Especially now.

BUT I CRIED at the installation “It is what it is.” A burned, bombed, ruined car brought from Iraq, juxtaposed against 2 maps. One of the UK with all the place names replaced names of places in Iraq. And the other of Iraq with the places repaced by English names. Simple, but not easy. Poignant. Infuriating. Sad. Tragic, Terrifying. I wept. I was embarrassed to weep in the middle of an art gallery and I hid my face in a room showing a beautiful 3D film of bats. Redemption of sorts, the power of nature in all its mystery.