Danger is the immediate sensation as you walk into What’s the Point of It?, the Turner Prize winning Martin Creed exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. A swift glimpse to the right reveals a large iron girder topped with MOTHER spelt out in eight foot high neon lights is hurtling toward you at what seems to be head height. Ducking swiftly under the art work that makes the point that when you are small your Mother always seems really big and maybe a bit scary. I reckon that I had maybe six inches clearance but that my Brother would be hit. My own children found it highly amusing.
Quite a lot of the work is exactly the stuff that might cause some to ask “What is the point of it?”. You can pick up an A-Z guide that will explain the pieces but the joy in the exhibition lies in trying to work it out for yourself. I would recommend taking a child with you as their wonder and amusement at what can be found is life enhancing. (That having said one exhibit contains explicit material unsuitable for young eyes, it is however well signposted and easily avoided.)
The best bit, according to the junior CW’s, is Work No.200. One corner of the gallery is fenced off with a glass wall and the space filled with seven thousand white balloons. When you enter the space the balloons crowd around you and it is impossible to see where you are. There is much laugher, oohing and ahhing and the occasional sharp pop of a balloon bursting as you make your way through the room. The A-Z guide tells us that the environment is both playful and claustrophobic and drastically alters our perception of space. Watch for the static effect as people with long hair re-emerge (not a problem experienced by Mr CW). Once outside the junior CW’s wanted to go back in and certainly want to bring a gaggle of school friends to battle through the balloons.
If you happen to be passing the Southbank do try and pop into see What is the Point of It? Just make sure you duck as you walk in and go with an open mind. Tea, coffee and snacking are all extremely well catered for on the Southbank at the weekend: the Real Food Market has 40 stalls selling everything from coffee to hog roast and during the week an excellent al fresco cup of coffee can be had on the roof garden atop the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Martin Creed WHAT’S THE POINT OF IT? ends 5 May 2014
Hayward Gallery, Southbank, London SE1
Entrance £11; seniors £10; Students £9; Young People £7.50