The exhibition was called “Natural Readymades” and was clearly built around the following piece which is a kind of 3d collage or assemblage comprising the top of a Greek amphora found caught in a fisherman’s net , a starfish , a skeleton and a ram’s horn found in a field . It does look good .
However there are only 6 other pieces in the exhibition and the attempt to put them all in the same category is a bit strained !
Here are : another assemblage featuring bits of coral and a seahorse , and a collage using an underwater picture or wallpaper . Maybe by ‘natural’ the curator really meant ‘marine’ ? If so then the 4 black&white photographs completing the exhibition do not fit – only 2 are clearly taken on the shore .
The real problem is that Eileen Agar was so prolific , did such a variety of work and was so long lived (1899-1991) that almost any argument could be made about her work if you take such a tiny sample . The Tate archive of 861 photos includes eg domestic snaps of her cat , Bella . Her assemblages and collages include all kinds of non-natural components eg her many decorated heads . And the natural components are often non-marine eg leaves . Are they really ‘readymades’ ? Why isn’t Georgia O’Keeffe’s skull with artificial flowers called a ‘natural readymade’ ?
I find Eileen Agar’s work so fascinating that I was looking forward to this exhibition but it was so disappointing . I suppose the curator has ‘provoked a reaction’ but it was not about Agar’s work . So if you do go and see this then afterwards do yourself a favour and look her up online or in any book on the Surrealists – she was the only woman invited to take part in the 1st International Surrealist Exhibition 1936 .