Entertainment & Arts

Tate Britain unveils naked Christmas tree

Flower Ssnake at Tate Britain
Image caption Sadotti is known for art that ‘celebrates the power of the nothing’

Tate Britain has unveiled a completely bare tree for Christmas this year.

Giorgio Sadotti's Norwegian Spruce, entitled Flower Ssnake, is naked apart from a coiled bullwhip and a circle of silver postcards around its base.

The whip will be used during a ceremony on Twelfth Night when the spirit of Christmas will be driven out of the London gallery.

In previous years, trees have been decorated with beeswax candles, tights and model planes.

Sadotti is known for an art practice that "celebrates the power of the nothing".

In not decorating the tree, the artist said he wanted people to recognise its "natural elegance" and think about the potential of the objects - of the tree held in time until its potential is fulfilled and of the whip waiting to be used.

'Weird reaction'

"For me, the challenge was to present a tree that was naturally effortless," Sadotti said.

"A tree that managed to maintain its dignity and timeless grace. A tree that remained sublime. A tree that was familiar but strange, like all trees but no other. A tree that had potential to become another. A tree that talked. A tree as a tree as art."

The Manchester-born artist admitted his bare tree may have been "a weird kind of reaction" to his previous job as a professional corporate Christmas tree decorator in New York.

"We used to come in with our kit and decorations and do the tree, and at the end of the day everyone in the offices would come down and stand in a circle around the tree and applaud our magnificent effort," he said.

The tree will be on display in the gallery's neoclassical Rotunda from 10 December until 5 January's free one-off performance to drive out the Christmas spirit.

This is the 23rd year that the Tate has asked a leading artist to design a tree.

Sarah Lucas's 2006 tree was decorated with sculptures that took the form of baby angels made from wire and stretched tights.

In 2002, Tracy Emin ditched a tree and produced a canvas with a message inviting people to leave their name and address and a donation to an Aids charity.

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