What’s the point of it? Martin Creed – Hayward Gallery

I also went to see the Martin Creed exhibition ‘What’s the point of it?’ at the Hayward Gallery.

This was probably the most fun I have ever had at an exhibition.

Martin Creed was on my radar – I mean I was aware of some of his work: in particular his naming protocols. But I had not realised how much he worked with colour and stripes. I am so pleased I went to the show.

For a start my friend and I arrived in the main hall and flopped on the sofa there – wonderful: we were tired out after Matisse earlier. Then I realised it was an exhibit (chair half blocking a doorway – or something similar) and we shot off it – but were reassured by the gallery attendant that it was OK to sit on it – phew!

This was another ‘joyful’ exhibition. The title of the show pitches it at exactly the level you need to enjoy the show. Embrace the title’s question and you won’t be disappointed. Laugh at the works – question them and then enjoy them for what they are. Revel and investigate the texture and preparation of the materials. Appreciate the way that some works blend into the environment as to seem ‘not part of’ the exhibition – you’d hardly notice them if it weren’t for their repetitive nature.

A lot of his work was based on repetitive elements. A speaker playing a looped ‘raspberry-blower’; instructions for playing a series of scales on a piano; A4 pages coloured with marker pens; repeated stripes; a collective group of around 1000 prints of broccoli heads and balloons.

A lot of the works don’t have a point – but that is the point of the exhibition! Some of the works can have deep philosophical thinking attached to them – but others can be taken at face value – where the interest is the collective work with variants of colour and marks. I loved it. It was fun. It was joyful. I didn’t feel cheated in the way I often do with works by Damien Hirst – there is no pretentiousness around these works, which I do find in Hirst.

I’m not sure where or how Creed chooses the colours and combinations he uses. Perhaps it is a random dip in the pot of marker pens… whereas my work is very structured in the choosing and ordering of colours – and that order is crucial to the work. We both create colour field work – but mine is focused around my diary and 9 choices a day. I’m not sure if Creed acknowledges these choices – if they are arbitrary or structured.

However, these works give me courage to produce work that doesn’t appear to have a point or reason to it. Most of my stripe work falls into that category – where it has more intrinsic meaning for me than the viewer.

Some favourites were:

But the best fun of all was Work No. 200 Half the air in a given space

This was such fun to be in as well as making you question things about your existence. How you can exist in a room where half of the available air is clearly not available to breathe – but you’re still OK. Plus how weird it is to be in a room where you can barely find your way around without clearing a viewpoint to the ceiling and following the exit arrows stuck there. However, it is really good fun and my friend Alison and I could not stop laughing. Alison’s hair suffered, whereas my hair was improved by the experience!

Further information on the works and reviews can be found here:






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