Friday, January 9, 2009

The city beyond Islington

Anne and I finally had the opportunity to see some part of London besides Islington (where we live), Hampstead (where the girls are going to school), and Golders Green (where we went to procure their uniforms). She hadn't been feeling well the last couple of days, but was better today, so we made a trip to the Tate Modern, Britain's national gallery of contemporary art. It was created in 2000 from an abandoned power station right on the south bank of the Thames, just west of the recreated Globe Theatre.

The building itself is interesting; as a fan of architecture, that was the first thing I noticed. There is a large gallery that spans the entire length of the building, about half its width, and is open from the first floor up to (I believe) the top. If you have visited MassMOCA, in North Adams, MA, this gallery is similar to the large, football field-lengthed gallery there, only wider and taller. The other half of the length of the building contains seven floors of galleries, offices, restaurants, shops, etc.

In this large gallery, which you see when you enter, is an interesting exhibition by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster titled TH.2058. It is an allegorical representation of London in the year 2058, when as the exhbition description puts it, "It rains incessantly in London – not a day, not an hour without rain, a deluge that has now lasted for years and changed the way people travel, their clothes, leisure activities, imagination and desires. They dream about infinitely dry deserts."

As one would expect, the installation is -- how should I put this? -- mammoth. It's hard to get a picture of the whole thing, but this picture gives you some idea of part of the exhibit. And here's a shot I took that gives you a closer view of part of the exhibit. It was one of those interesting experiences where you had no idea what to expect walking in, and yet it was intriguing.

Anne saw a retrospective of Mark Rothko's work, which I passed on. We both saw the other special exhibit, by the contemporary Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles. We knew nothing about him, and both loved the exhibit. It was very interactive, and involved many different media. We thought it was something the kids would love, so we're actually going to take them back there this weekend, as it closes on Sunday.

The day ended with both of us picking up the girls at school. They had quite a nice first three days of school, and seem to be very well settled in. We ended the day with a stop at a little creparie stand in Hampstead on the walk from school back to the Hampstead Tube. They each enjoyed a milk chocolate and banana crepe, which we all agreed was absolutely delicious. We hope to have some time this weekend to do more exploring, and the weather's supposed to warm up some also.

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