British History Dissected At The Hayward Gallery

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 42 months ago
British History Dissected At The Hayward Gallery ★★☆☆☆ 2
This bloodhound missile system was designed to take down Soviet bombers, now one sits on the balcony of the Southbank Centre. Photo by Tabish Khan.
This bloodhound missile system was designed to take down Soviet bombers, now one sits on the balcony of the Southbank Centre. Photo by Tabish Khan.
"THE ARRIVAL OF SPRING IN WOLDGATE, EAST YORKSHIRE IN 2011 (TWENTY ELEVEN) - 23 FEBRUARY"IPAD DRAWING PRINTED ON PAPER55 X 41 1/2"EDITION OF 25© DAVID HOCKNEYPHOTO CREDIT: RICHARD SCHMIDT
A typical late Hockney work of a colourful road view sits alongside works by other British artists like Damien Hirst and Gavin Turk. Copyright David Hockney.
This outfit is from the Margaret Thatcher biopic 'The Iron Lady'. It's unclear though whether the artist thinks the ex PM's legacy is good or bad. Photo by Robert Wooldridge.
This outfit is from the Margaret Thatcher biopic 'The Iron Lady'. It's unclear though whether the artist thinks the ex PM's legacy is good or bad. Photo by Robert Wooldridge.
There are also older works such as this Lowry and two superb Paul Nash paintings. Copyright the estate of LS Lowry.
There are also older works such as this Lowry and two superb Paul Nash paintings. Copyright the estate of LS Lowry.
Chris Killip's harrowing images of homelessness are among the starkest images in the show. Copyright Chris Killip.
Chris Killip's harrowing images of homelessness are among the starkest images in the show. Copyright Chris Killip.
This flipped-over view of Great Britain by Tony Cragg shows a man looking at the country from the North. Copyright DACS 2015.
This flipped-over view of Great Britain by Tony Cragg shows a man looking at the country from the North. Copyright DACS 2015.

Londonist Rating: ★★☆☆☆

A lot has happened in Britain in the 70 years since the end of World War II and in this exhibition, seven artists have been asked to look across that period and curate a series of interlinked shows within the Hayward Gallery. It's an ambitious project to take on and the key question is: does it deliver the right balance of art and history?

Each artist has taken on a separate theme, for example Jane and Louise Wilson investigate conflict, while Hannah Starkey's photography section explores homelessness among other themes. John Akomfrah has installed 17 videos but a lot of them focus on the history of art and will be far too academic for most visitors while Roger Hiorns' analysis of mad cow disease, supplemented by two Damien Hirst cow heads, is very thoroughly-researched but far too detailed to hold the attention.

The one section we liked was based on war and curated by Richard Wentworth. It features two fantastic Paul Nash paintings and an actual Bloodhound missile system out on the balcony.

Much like the previous exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, Mirrorcity, this show is a curatorial mess and the solid concept of the show would have been better served if they'd adopted a 'less is more' approach. There are some great works and ideas on display, but unfortunately they are drowned out in the noise.

History Is Now: 7 Artists take on Britain is on at Hayward Gallery, South Bank until 26 April. Tickets are £10.90 for adults, concessions available. This exhibition is part of the Southbank Centre's 'Changing Britain' festival.

For more art to see in London, see our top 10 art exhibitions for February.

Last Updated 10 February 2015