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HEW LOCKE
link to 'Tate'  by Hew Locke
Tate
2015   40.6 x 39.2 x 1.2 cm
Layers of cut and engraved, polished and aged brass, mounted on giclee print
About Statues

Limited Edition commissioned by Tate Gallery, London.

For over a decade 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”.

Here, Locke has layered sugar cubes and sugar cane onto the bust of Henry Tate he passes everyday, outside Brixton Library. This is one of several Tate libraries in south London; he also built Tate Britain, endowed it with his personal collection, and presented it to the nation.

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. Locke makes regular use of these free libraries and galleries.

Tates’ 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. This glittering, decorative assemblage is reflective of the artist's own complex relationship with the history of Henry Tate.

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All images © Hew Locke & DACS unless otherwise indicated