June 22, 2024

#ArtistandEmpire at the @Tate – reviewed in a sonnet by the Art Critic Sonneteer #poetry #poem

Artist and Empire at the Tate. Reviewed through the medium of poetry by Haverford Jones

Once Britain conducted the world’s choir,

’tis hard to credit but here is some proof.

The Tate’s new show Artist & Empire

which dates from when the country was aloof.

Maps from before we had much idea

about the actual shape of lands like Aus,

which didn’t stop our heroes sailing there,

even though uncertain where there was.

Artists drew and mapped the lands they found,

like New York (to defend it from the Dutch).

England was rich, we had so many pounds

we collected birds and animals, commissioned much

like portraits, landscapes, snaps of all our chaps,

and lots and lots and lots and lots of maps.


The Tate Britain has got it all displayed

whether gained by law or pr’haps by theft

from when England and France for spoils played,

to now when when just the Falklands Isles are left.

From artists working with famed Captain Cook,

Arabian Lawrence, Van Dyke and guns

Of Opium wars and slavery a look –

a dismal side of Empire that still stuns.

Contemp’ry art is also in the mix

but sadly doesn’t really make the grade

I knew we had mislaid  our empire

but farewell to our artists have we bade?

If you find British history a treat

the Tate’s new exhibition is up your street.

by Haverford Jones

The Art Critical Sonneteer

More details of the exhibition can be found here

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