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Current time:0:00Total duration:2:35

Video transcript

We’re in the gallery that is looking very specifically at art in Britain in the 1970s and '80s. This was a particularly turbulent period, of course, in British history, politically and socially and in many ways art from this period defies easy categorisation and we see a new generation of artists continually renegotiating the art object. My favourite piece in this room is the piece behind me. This is ‘Stack’ by Tony Cragg. It was made in 1975 when the artist was a student at the Royal College of Art and when we look more closely at the piece we discover that it’s actually made from a whole array of everyday materials and detritus. These materials have been tightly packed to form a very solid cube and these wooden horizontal panels, which give the form its structure, suggest geological layers in many ways, like we’re looking a cross-section of human rubbish through time. And it’s these preoccupations that a lot of sculptors from this period were interested in because of course this was a time when Britain was turning away from technical optimism to real serious considerations of ecology and conservation. I think there’s a strong element of political commentary in satire in art from this period. This is ‘Where There’s Muck’ by Mark Wallinger. It was made at the height of the Thatcher period and it really contributes to a lot of these political debates at the time. The title of the piece derives from the old Yorkshire saying ‘Where there’s muck there’s brass’ which means that there’s money to be made in dirty jobs and in the middle here, a corrugated iron panel carries the image of a human scarecrow carrying a rattle and again we have the word ‘Albion’, which is the oldest name for Britain spray painted across the panels and the wall. I think this room really captures the richness and the vibrancy of the period representing a very eclectic range of artists all working in different media at different moments.