Victoria Pomery: An expert eye on Frieze

The director of Turner Contemporary chooses her favourite works from the fair—and reveals a very British preoccupation with the weather


Victoria Pomery has been the director of Turner Contemporary since 2002. Its new gallery, designed by David Chipperfield Architects, is set to open in spring 2011. The museum sits by the sea in Margate—artist Tracey Emin’s hometown. Pomery chooses her favourite works from the fair—and reveals a very British preoccupation with the weather.

“Every child is an artist”

Rineke Dijkstra, Ruth Drawing Picasso, Tate Liverpool, UK, 2009, E50,000, edition of 6, Marian Goodman Gallery, F16

“This work was commissioned by Tate Liverpool, where I used to work, so I had already heard about the piece. I’m familiar with Dijkstra, particularly with the images she made of teenagers—

we’re doing a show on teenagers in 2011 as part of our opening year at Turner Contemporary. The video really stood out for me. It focuses on a young girl, about ten years of age. She is sitting on a gallery floor and intently observing a Picasso painting, which remains out of shot. You don’t watch the Picasso, you watch her making a drawing, although the piece isn’t voyeuristic. There is something about the intense look of concentration on her face. It reminds me of what Picasso said about trying to retain a child’s creative spirit. It also made me think about the role that public galleries play in encouraging young people to draw and think about making art. What is the role of the public sector gallery in the 21st-century?”

Get off my cloud

Tomás Saraceno, Hydrogen Cloud Explosion, 2010, E32,000 (sold)

Tanya Bonakdar, A6

“This is a classic Saraceno—a modular structure with interrelating parts. It’s just fantastic. It’s like something that you might imagine, realised in three-dimensional form. His work is a real mix of art, architecture and science. Clouds are an important part of the landscape and this piece reminds me of other cloud studies in the fair, including Lorna Simpson’s work on Salon 94’s stand (B12). Saraceno’s work also makes me think of Constable and Turner.”

Wild water voyeurs: keep your feet dry here

Tala Madani, Loophole, 2010, £55,000 (sold to a private European collection)

Pilar Corrias, G14

“This is a rather kitsch scene of very blue sky and waterfalls. Madani is Iranian-American, and Pilar Corrias explained to me that the artist’s father had a similar scene on the wallpaper in his house—men of his generation often decorated their homes with these scenes. The artist also spent three years making small paintings of elderly men—and she cut peepholes, like letterbox openings, into the works through which you can see small animations she has made. She only has this one piece on the stand and I’d be very interested in seeing other pieces.”

Natural selection: furniture fit for a fair

Matthew Darbyshire, “Stool series”, 2010, £6,000 each, editions of 2, Herald St, A5

“I thought this stool series was fascinating. They really stand out on the booth. I also like the fact that one of these stools is included in Nick Relph’s Frieze Project, for which he got other artists to design donation boxes to encourage fair-goers to give money to selected charities, as they see fit. Darbyshire is also involved in Frieze Projects—he redesigned the ticket booth, so there’s a thread between them. The stools are installed in a bank of vitrines, which made me think of how museums catalogue objects. There are quirky relationships between all of the stools. One is shaped like a gnome, while others are more traditional, though perhaps with an exotic twist.”

Time waits for no man

Susan Hiller, In the Rough, 2010, £40,000 (sold)

Timothy Taylor, C17

“This piece is a continuation of a theme that’s quite prevalent in Hiller’s work: taking photographs of postcards. The work features rough seas around the south coast towards Hastings and Broadstairs, so it’s very close to home for me. I have a preoccupation with work about the sea, and lots of works at the fair caught my eye, for example Richard Forster’s drawings of the tide coming in at Ingleby Gallery (E17) or Darren Almond’s images of cliff tops at White Cube (F15). I find myself being drawn to them again and again.”

A little puddle of peace

Helena Almeida,

Bañada en lagrimas #12, 2009, E40,000

Galería Helga de Alvear, A10

“Helena is a Portuguese artist, and I’ve see her work before—mainly in fairs rather than museums, although she had a show at Kettle’s Yard last year. This is a photograph of someone’s feet, with the rest of their body reflected in wet paving stones. While her work typically focuses on the body, there’s something about the damp pavement which makes you think about the weather. It is an evocative work—very still and calm. It was nice to have a moment with it among the bustle of the fair. My selection of works is partly influenced by what I do at Margate, and partly to do with what strikes me in the context of the fair. When looking for artists to show, you have to have one eye open for what might make a good group exhibition, or that references something that you have already done. But I chose this piece without any particular agenda—it was just a snapshot that caught my eye.”

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Victoria Pomery: Expert eye'