On our fourth session of my Image-Making: Shaping Poems course at Tate Modern we were given a Touch Tour by Marcus Dickey Horley, who usually only does this for partially sighted or blind visitors. We got to touch the three sculptures available for this tour at Tate Modern: Alberto Giacometti's Walking Woman, Henri Laurens' Autumn and David Smith's Home of the Welder, or 'the man's doll's house' as we nicknamed it.
Four of us at a time could touch the bronze Autumn by Henri Laurens. Touching can only be done through lint free gloves but it's amazing how much you can feel through them. To write about the experience I handed out my Mental Imagery list of eight senses: sight, touch, hearing, taste, smell, the organic or inner body sense, kinesthesia and synesthesia. I also brought Keats' 'Ode to Autumn'.
Here is Marcus introducing us to David Smith's Home of the Welder, behind him, so fragile (like a man's doll's house) that only one of us at a time could feel it.
Karen McCarthy Woolf touching Home of the Welder which is welded together.
Only two of us at a time could touch Giacometti's bronze Walking Woman, she is so thin! At one point Giacometti had given her arms and a head; one arm ended in feathers and the other in flowers, and her head was a cello. This was while she was still made of plaster. The final cast form is classic and archaic, and we discussed Tishani Doshi's poem 'Ode to the Walking Woman' where she becomes various ancient earth and sky goddesses, including Astarte, Cybele, and figures from a 3000BC archaelogical site in Pakistan, who are invited to "Sit / you must be tired" and "resurrect yourself, /make love to the sky, / reclaim the world."
Autumn by Henri Laurens (Bronze, 1948)