Studio International

Published 25/08/2005

Tate Britain showed 'A Picture of Britain' through until 4 September. This picturesque visiting of well-trodden scenarios of the English, Scottish and Welsh landscape exploited the device of picture linkage ostensibly in order to promote such resources of national beauty to tourists. There was a curious 'Shell Guide to Britain' feel about the accompanying television series where David Dimbleby searched avidly for narrative and artistic anecdotes to connect widely varied scenes of the sublime and picturesque. One almost expected to see John Betjeman emerge from the undercroft as animator. The concept of a peasant life seems prevalent among curators. But the landscapes of Eric Ravilious, with the contemporaneous seascapes of the Cornishman Alfred Wallis, provided a welcome respite from this jumble of pictorial and televisual confrontations. Apart from this, many of the exhibition works were well-known old favourites which even those 'visiting Britain' would have no trouble in recognising, and could even form a therapy for those marooned by the catering strike at British Airways, which showed a different environment to that which the tourist boards intended.