Can you see what it is yet? David Tremlett under wraps and Fred Pradeau blindfolded

scaffold and coverings on Tate's vast Manton staircase during the installation of David Tremlett's landmark new work. photo: Donald Smith courtesy Tate

Something exciting and unique is happening on the Manton Staircase at Tate Britain: artist David Tremlett and his assistants are working on a major wall drawing following the stairwell from the lower ground up almost to the full height of this grand but difficult space.

David Tremlett on the first of four levels of scaffold working with Lola, one of his artist assistants, on his ambitious Manton wall drawing. photo; Donald Smith courtesy Tate

The drawing is made with traditional pastels and, when the entire drawing is complete, it is  fixed with thinly sprayed layers of  a water-based protective fixative. It is impossible for the artist and his assistants to see the whole drawing which spans three walls because of the scaffold, and also because each section has to be individually covered with plastic to stop pastel dust from one colour falling onto another. The logistics of drawing up the original design across such a huge space and  protecting the  individual colours is a specialist task that Tremlett and his team have modified and perfected over years of working on architectural spaces across the world. The Tate project is co-ordinated by curator Carmen Julia and is intended to be in situ for a minimum of five years.

hard hats and pastels

David Tremlett’s working drawings for his 1972 work Spring Recordings were included in CHELSEA space #38 Aftermath: Objects From Projects curated by Laure Genillard. The early 1970’s piece owned by Tate consists of cassette tape recordings of the ambient sound of spring made across the 81 counties of England, Scotland and Wales. The explanatory drawings shown at CHELSEA space were kindly loaned by John Dunbar co-founder of Indica gallery who was featured with Tremlett previously on the CHELSEA space Blog. The drawings plot Tremlett’s route across the UK made partly on bicycle and partly in a borrowed  Volkeswagon ‘Combi bus’ dormobile.

detail of David Tremlett's route for 'Spring Recordings' 1972. The dotted line indicates the bicycle section of the route and the filled line indicates the VW driven section

CHELSEA space  is working with David Tremlett and The Centre For Drawing UAL to co-ordinate some documentary footage of  the installation of  the Manton Staircase wall drawing. We hope to organise a public talk later in the year and the video document, including an interview between David Tremlett and the Rootstein Hopkins Chair of Drawing for the University of the Arts London, Stephen Farthing,  is being produced  by film maker Ed Webb-Ingall.

David Tremlett (right) breaks off from working on his Manton project to talk drawing with Stephen Farthing on Chelsea's Parade Ground next to Tate Britain

The work is about to be fixed and, if all goes well, the scaffold should be down soon. The work is planned to be open to the public by the 21st September when all will be revealed.

David Tremlett marking out sections of his Manton Staircase Drawing at Tate Britain on the first level scaffolding. photo: Donald Smith courtesy Tate

Whilst David Tremlett has been working ‘blind’ on his Manton Staircase project for Tate Britain, Frederic Pradeau, who was featured along with Tremlett in Laure Genillard’s Aftermath, is to show his filmed  performance ‘Assembled IKEA Furniture Blindfolded Without Training’ as part of or next exhibition, ‘ideal home’, a show which sits somewhere between domestic bliss and a living hell and opens on September 20th.

Frederic Pradeau filmed performance 'Assembled IKEA Furniture Blindfolded Without Training'

Frederic Pradeau with David Tremlett and Diane Guyot de St Michel (who is also showing in 'ideal home') at the private view of 'Aftermath: Objects from Projects' at CHELSEA space 2011