At 06:00am my alarm clock goes off…its the start of what will be a long day. I have been looking forward to this day and overwhelmed with a massive feeling of dread. Today I face a number of my own personal fears about heading to the big city, large crowds of people etc, etc. I shower, grab some toast and orange juice before my wife and I head out the door to walk down town to catch the bus, its a cold crisp morning.
Its a long 3.5 hour bus journey on the National Express to the big city from where I live in Wiltshire. I settle into my seat and put on some Pearl Jam on my headphones and enjoy taking in the view, its nice not to have to drive. The closer I get to the city I notice how the horizon starts to disappear and the urban jungle emerges. This Hobbit is (most definitely) no longer in the Shire! Maybe its something people in the city get used to but I’m used to being able to see the sky, I mean, there is something special about seeing that point where the ground meets the sky, openness, space.
Its 11.15 and we have arrived, my body aches, so the long walk from Victoria to the Tate Modern will help (I am not a fan of the underground). Within 5 mins we are totally lost, a nice Londoner points us in the right direction and before we know it we are at Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and people, lots and lots of people everywhere!
Getting over the bridge and down by the river, past the London Eye I feel more comfortable, there is a nice vibe to this area of London. After about an hour of walking we finally arrive at the Tate Modern, I look at my wife and I know, if don’t get lunch soon, she is going to kill me, so we grab some grub. Our bellies full and me £30.00 worse off (are you mental Tate sort your prices out) we head into the various exhibition spaces.
The Tate Modern exhibitions are spread out over a number of floors and split between the Boiler House showing modern art from 1900 to the present day and the newer Switch House showing art from 1960 to present day. For this visit we stuck to the free exhibitions, there were a number of other exhibitions at the time that you had to pay for; notably Robert Rauschenberg and an exhibition of a selection Elton John’s photography collection.
The whole mass of exhibition space is massive and on a much larger scale to anything I have been to before. There is a mix of different art forms on display. I found some of it was not really to my taste or I didn’t really get it. My wife and I discussed the different art as we went around and agreed that it’s all subjective, so tried our best to be open minded but some stuff just had us scratching our heads and moving on. I struggled with some of the more abstract art like that of Piet Mondrian. I really don’t get the work of Gerhard Richter either that was on display or how it can fetch such a high price tag.I guess it just doesn’t float my boat but I can’t be the only one who wonders why some of this stuff is here and other art isn’t. I kept pondering how there is all this exhibition space and they fill it with this?! Then I started wondering if its more about the architecture of the building the idea of a community hub for artists, maybe that’s what this space is all really about. I also have to say that as I walked around I was disappointed by a feeling that there should be more photography on display.
There was of course some stuff on display that I liked and got me thinking; it was nice to see the vibrant colourful prints of William Eggleston, I liked the rebellious work and message of the Guerilla Girls, , Photobooks: Protests in Latin America the ‘Babel’ display by Cildo Meireles was amazing. One of the ‘highlights’ of the whole visit was seeing the art by Jane Alexander titled ‘African Adventure 1999-2002’ ; out of everything I viewed throughout the whole visit this was the one thing that interested me the most and where I spent the most of time walking around absorbing the message. It’s really very powerful stuff and I want to see more of. To sum it up as simply as I can, it seemed to speak an honest truth and a connection with the artist that I didn’t get from a lot of the other work on display which left me feeling a little cold if I’m honest.
After a walk around the shop and a purchase of another photography book ( in this instance ‘From My Land to the Planet’ by Sebastião Salgado) we made our long walk back to Victoria Station. I spent the bus journey home reflecting on the day, what I had seen and also the personal barriers I had overcome. It will be 09.30pm before we would step through the front door of the house, this Hobbit is back in the Shire!
All in, a great day out and I hope to pluck up the courage to visit again, for now I am returning to my introvert cave for mental and social recuperation.
A selection of i-Phone snapshots from the visit: