Hull Tate Modern, Beverley

A visit to Hull as the City of Culture encompassed several things for me.  Firstly, meeting up again with a good friend and her family, secondly revisiting the city my mother and my grandparents came from, and thirdly seeing the Tate Modern Exhibition, as it was residing there as part of this year's City of Culture.  My mother, having hailed from Hull, remains somewhat astonished that this place, one she only wanted to leave post war (and probably prewar had she been old enough) now encompasses the kind of artistic endeavours she loves.  However, the City Fathers had risen to the occasion of being the City of Culture by attempting to concrete over the last remains of the old city walls, (where King Charles the First himself was once repelled during the civil war), in favour of car parking needs, which would not have surprised my mother in the least.  Fortunately, they were overruled by the locals, presumably still rebellious against wrong headed authority.  There were two exhibitions my friend and I went to, a modern gallery with road signs designed in the sixties, and the Tate Modern, which was interesting.  I loved the teaset slave history ideas and the hauntingly hypnotic but almost casual films of the Gaza Strip and Vivian's Garden, where it appeared the camera, with a sensually aware focus on imagery, lingered on seeming nothings and meanderings, but ones which stayed with you.  Garlanded horses being cooled in the sea by poor young boys, men talking in a room and figs being rolled into a sweet pancake to share; two ladies, mother and daughter, murmuring confidingly  through their later lives in Guatemala, conversationally describing the drug lords and most mysteriously referring to:

"She saved my life, with the bees".  That was, infuriatingly, not enlarged upon, so we never discovered why.  The villa they lived in was stucco peeled, served by locals as servants eating home made tacos, and had Vivian's garden, where she took canvasses to paint and talked about cactus fruits in her little girl whispery voice, and said she was afraid of the snakes.  There was something about Vivian that suggested she had always been afraid of the snakes and perhaps that was why her gallant mother stayed with her, in her wheelchair, in the middle of the mountains, and the snakes.

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