Hew Locke, Tate, 2015
For over a decade Hew Locke has been interrogating the idea of the Hero, as manifested in the thousands of public statues scattered around our towns, creating work he has described as “mindful vandalism”. In this work Locke layers brass engraved sugar cubes and sugar cane onto a bust of Henry Tate. A bust he passes everyday outside Brixton Library, one of several Tate libraries built by Henry Tate in south London. Tate also built Tate Britain, endowed it with his personal collection, and presented it to the nation. These are libraries and galleries that Locke makes use of today.
Tate was a Liverpudlian grocer and Unitarian who became a partner in a local sugar refinery in 1859. In 1872 he purchased the patent for producing sugar cubes. With this and other new technologies his business expanded, and he rapidly became a millionaire, donating generously to educational and health charities in Britain. Tate’s business was founded after the abolition of the British slave trade, but the sugar trade itself was originally created and flourished under slavery, and later sustained by indentured labour. Sugar plantations to this day are physically harsh and labour-intensive businesses.
Locke has created one of his trademark assemblages, glittering, decorative, and yet reflective of his own complex relationship with the history of Henry Tate. The limited edition artwork Tate, 2015 by Hew Locke accompanies the exhibition Artist & Empire at Tate Britain.
Medium: Cut and engraved brass, polished and aged with mounted giclee print
Dimensions: 40.6 x 39.2 x 1.2 cm
Edition of 20
Accompanied by a signed and numbered certificate
This limited edition by Hew Locke is available at Tate