This past Friday, I had the pleasure of attending the Late at the Tate event at the Tate Britain with fellow London 360 reporter Jessica Onah. I was not quite sure what to expect from the evening but as a big fan of hip-hop, and with the theme of the night alluding to the fusion of hip-hop, spoken word and art, I was excited.
Upon our arrival, the lawn near the front entrance had a stage, blaring some hip-hop beats while B-Boy dancers were doing their thing to entertain the early attendees. Entering the building, it was noticeable that the vast majority of people inside were young and not people you would stereotypically picture inside the Tate Britain.
As Jessica and I explored, finding material to film for her feature was not hard to come across. We stumbled upon a very interesting discussion about the interpretation of art. The panel was again comprised of young people and there was a great debate brewing about the different ways to find meaning in art.
The highlight of the discussion was the debate as to whether the interpretation of art comes down to government education of art, or the subjective understanding of the individual.
After taking in some of the intriguing artwork along our travels, we once again found ourselves stumbling upon a spectacle. A talented group put on a great show with 5 artists stepping up to entertain a room full of onlookers with a spoken word performance.
The stand out performer of this session to me was a young man named Jamal who told a heart-warming story of his life, which comprised of dealing with his father’s death and growing up in a rough area in East London, faced with law-breaking temptations every day. It was not only the content which left a mark on the audience; Jamal was immensely talented delivering his poignant words with the highest quality.
It was then time to exhibit some visual artwork. This was provided by an artist, Mode 2, creating a drawing with an audience present to watch him at work. As someone who just does not have the knack for drawing, I found it fascinating watching such a skilled artist live and learnt a lot about the technique which goes into creating pieces of art.The artist was providing himself with some musical inspiration as he was drawing, playing some tasteful hip-hop which the crowd engaged with. It was great to see the fusion of art and music, a theme which was becoming more and more prevalent throughout the night.
We then decided to ask some of the attendees for their views of the event so far. The overwhelming response we got from everyone we spoke to was that Late at the Tate was a huge success, for giving young people a voice and opportunity to come to such an esteemed venue and inspire themselves. Many of the people we spoke to told us they think Tate Britain would not normally be a venue within their reach on a Friday night. It was a very powerful message.
Another team of spoken word artists, Poetry Luv, hosted a session which was equally as powerful as the one we had seen earlier. My favourite routine came from a young man delivering a comedic performance about being mixed race, ridiculing many of the stereotypes he and many others face on a daily basis. Many of the performances which came before him had been rather intense and serious so it was quite refreshing to see someone use humour to get his message across equally effectively.
Finally, everyone at the exhibition was treated to a special performance to round off the night. Talented up and coming North London rapper Little Simz performed some of the tracks which have made her an internet sensation and globally recognised as one of the hip-hop artists to watch this year.
Simz fitted the bill perfectly as she attempts to offer listeners enlightenment through her music and many of the young people attending the event are also part of her impressively growing fan base. This is no coincidence, this is a mentality shared by a wave of young people in search of culture and purpose. The Islington rapper clearly loved performing at the Tate, which was affirmed to Jessica in an interview after, as she performed a few extra songs during her set.
With that, Late at the Tate came to an end. If I was not working on the event for London 360 I probably would not have attended. I was shocked at myself when I realised this as I had a fantastic time and I thought it was something special that people, despite their social status, race or age, were able to come to such an iconic building to soak up some culture and inspire their minds. I will be attending the next event whether I am working or not.
While young people were given a chance to spend an evening in the Tate, the event also offered the older audience an opportunity to acquaint themselves to the spoken word art form and hip-hop. It was a reciprocal learning experience for the new young audience and the older regular attendees at the Tate. Events of this nature are rare in society and should be celebrated.