London Art: Keep Your Timber Limber

Keith McDonnell
Authored by
Keith McDonnell

August 28, 2013
3:44 a.m.

This week brings you a slice of art from one of London’s most iconoclastic art institutions, the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts). I must confess some kind of attachment to this venerable institution as I used to work there – not in the bar, I hasten to add, but in the marketing department.

I left over 3 years’ ago and the ICA is now a much trimmer organisation. I tried to make it a hotbed of gay culture. Some might argue that I succeeded as Jonny Woo, Ma Butcher and John Sizzle had a two-year residency with their anarchic and debauched Gay Bingo, once a month on a Saturday night. It was the place to be – there were queues round the block. The ICA rocked.

Fast forward three years and although Gay Bingo has moved on, there’s still an air of queerness about the place. Although there’s been nothing there so hardcore, as their new exhibition ‘Keep your Timber Limber’ for quite a while.

The title says it all – this show is about full-on raging hard-ons, so what’s not to like? I mean, who doesn’t like a throbbing member shoved in their face?

I have to say that it’s not all about stiffies – there are some great political statements that use cocks to make their point, no more so than in Judith Bernstein’s massive collages which dominate the lower gallery. Taking a swipe at American military dominance/transgressions she’s not afraid to confront her audience as seen in this limerick which adorns one of her works:

“There once was a maid from Azores, Whose cunt was all covered with sores, The Dogs in the Street, Used to eat the green meat, Which hung down in strips from her draws.”

timber 2

But if you’re after cocks, massive throbbing ones at that, then head to the upper galleries where there’s a superb collection of Tom of Finland drawings. As a teenager, before the internet had been invented and hardcore gay porn was available at the flick of a switch/wrist, I remember the erotic charge I felt at seeing his drawings.

It was a pleasure to see them again – there’s something so unashamedly joyous about the way these guys look so happy at the meat they’re packing/sucking. There’s no attempt to make the observer feel in any way dirty about observing such a celebration of queer sexuality. Amazing!

timber 4

I was less convinced by the examples of inter-species’ activity – one massive drawing by Marlene McCarty showed some monkey-loving ladies, one of whom was in the process of giving birth to a monkey-like baby. Each to their own, I guess.

I loved the collage by Cary Kwok – drawings of hot guys, loads of them, all spunking over their tits, whilst his three drawings of religious leaders cumming in their faces had particular contemporary relevance – well the one of the Catholic priest did anyway.

It’s a great exhibition – curator Sarah McCrory has done a great job, and what’s more – admission is free! It ends on September 8, so don’t miss out.

Keep your Timber Limber


Anonymous User
Artsy_adam (Guest)
7 years, 9 months ago

That last image is so strange but I kind of love it. I think they are trying to say that men are animals/monkeys.