Harrier and Jaguar

It looks like the result of a particularly poor piece of piloting. But no, it’s art.

A former Royal Navy Sea Harrier jump-jet that saw active service in the skies over Bosnia has become the centrepiece of an exhibition at Tate Britain. The plane is suspended from the ceiling in one of the grand sculpture galleries, looking more like a trussed bird than a deadly piece of kit. Elsehwere, a Jaguar fighter jet lies on its back in the centre of the room, its metal skin buffed to a mirror finish.

I’m loving the way the artist, Fiona Banner, has painted feathers on the Harrier (I geddit) and the sheer theatrical triumph of the upside down birds in the odd location of a classical art gallery just delivers massive impact.

I haven’t seen the birds in the flesh as it were, but I’ll be making a detour to the gallery next time I’m in London. Seeing the work though instantly brings to mind warfare and our armed forces’ current controversial role as soldiers and peacekeepers. Banner, 44, who lives in the East End, said the work was not a protest. ‘I see it more as addressing our ambivalence in how we look at war. We loathe it but we are oddly drawn to these machines’ she said.

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