London’s Tate Modern is getting visitors of all ages to transform the floor of the Turbine Hall into an ever changing work of art. This fun invitation is part of a transformative project by artist Ei Arakawa, which launches UNIQLO Tate Play – Tate Modern’s new free programme of playful art-inspired activities for families, in partnership with UNIQLO.
UNIQLO Tate Play’s first project is inspired by the Gutai group, radical Japanese artists who wanted to change the world through painting, performance and children’s play. For the group’s Outdoor Gutai Art Exhibition of 1956, Yoshihara Jirō created the groundbreaking work Please Draw Freely, a large board on which people were free to draw and paint.
To kick off UNIQLO Tate Play, contemporary artist Ei Arakawa has expanded and drawn inspiration from this idea at Tate Modern as a gigantic interactive installation: Mega Please Draw Freely.
Over the next six weeks, Mega Please Draw Freely will see thousands of visitors completely transform the Turbine Hall by covering the floor with doodles, drawings, scribbles and sketches. The floor is coated in a temporary surface to allow people of all ages to draw on it with coloured drawing materials provided for free.
Arakawa has also surrounded visitors with a theatrical pine forest in homage to the Gutai group’s love of outdoor art and their local park, Ashiya park in Hyogo, Japan. Adults and children can join free daily workshops to collectively create huge banners that will be hung from the hall’s ceiling every Monday, echoing the Gutai Sky Festival of 1960 where paintings were suspended in the air.
To coincide with Arakawa’s Mega Please Draw Freely, a remake of Yoshihara’s original Please Draw Freely installation is staged outside Tate Modern by the river Thames. Boards are available for the public to draw on every day from 10:00 until 18:00, with each person’s contribution becoming a new layer in an unforgettable work of art.
Surrounded by trees, sky and water, the locations reflect Yoshihara’s belief that art should be open and participatory, and accessible to adults and children alike. Visitors can also find out more about Gutai in a free display on level 4 of the Blavatnik Building at Tate Modern.
As part of the project, the public are also invited to a weekend-long picnic at Tate Modern on 14 and 15 August, including special interactive performances led by Ei Arakawa. Children and young people will take the lead, guiding the artist and other participants in a dance to create a collective circle drawing across the Turbine Hall floor.
For the first time at Tate Modern, and in the UK, visitors will also experience the special recreation of Gutai artist Motonaga Sadamasa’s famous performance work, Work (Smoke) 1957, which creates art from puffing giant smoke rings into the air, illuminated by coloured light.
The Tate Modern is hosting so much interactive art this summer. And while it may be made for the kids and families, the rest of us will surely love it all too. There’s absolutely no judgement come from us.