Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, London SE1 8XX
The Hayward Gallery, opened 1968, was named after Sir Isaac Hayward, a miner and trade unionist who was the last leader of the London County Council (LCC), a few pointless local government reorganisations back. Many have considered its brutalist style unsuited to showing art, but I reckon it works pretty well for most shows. That’s fortunate, for after two closures for remodelling (2009-10 and 2016-17), it has emerged looking much as it originally did – aside from café and shop arrangements. Now the Hayward faces financial challenges, with the Government cutting £1.8m from the South Bank’s £73m budget. Just as well, then, that long-serving American director Ralph Rugoff (there since 2006) and his team have been on top form this year, with the hat-trick of ‘Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child’, ‘In the Black Fantastic’ and now ‘Strange Clay’. That last (to 8 Jan) is an immensely entertaining survey of ceramic practice, even if it can’t have required too much curatorial head scratching: most of the 23 artists, for example, feature in Phaidon’s 2017 Vitamin C survey of the field (curiously absent from said shop). Perhaps the strangest idea on view is to make clay windscreens. That works brilliantly for Emma Hart, especially in the playful use of the same structure differently treated to make the view in and the view out: in my example windblown leaves caught up in the wipers become Give Way signs from within, as well as being cutely picked up by a dangling pine tree air freshener,
London’s gallery scene is varied, from small artist-run spaces to major institutions and everything in between. Each week, art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent gives a personal view of a space worth visiting.