As the title of this post suggests, I was recently in London. This post is in no way, however, a definitive look at the art scene in London. Is that even possible? Certainly not in a post by an outsider after a ten day trip. As I was planning, I looked at list of galleries I should go to. There were the obvious choices - the Tate Modern, the National Portrait Gallery, and The Barbican. I also wanted to look for smaller, more independent and artist-run spaces. I had a few on my list, but as I was there over Christmas, I had to pare my list down to the essentials. I made it to the major players on my list, but even the gallery at the Barbican was closed by the time I got there (not to worry - I managed to buy an awesome book on DIY culture in the London eighties at the Barbican before we left).
The first non-tourist photos I took in London were while walking around east London. The following photos were taken around Brick Lane and Spitalfields. The narrow cobblestone streets were charming and graffiti reminded me of my own hipster city. This ended up being my favourite area of London and one I visited no less than three times during my stay.
This (below) is me at the Tate Modern and is, incidentally, the only photo I took there. It's me, reflected in 11 Panes by Gerhard Richter.
The Tate Modern is a beautiful space for contemporary/Modern/Conceptual Art. It's HUGE and the galleries are never-ending. I was lucky to go when it didn't seem too busy, although it was a Sunday evening. I also loved that entry was free and I was happy to donate £1 for a map. I wish Toronto made art more accessible in this way (looking at you, AGO).
I also made it to the Whitechapel Gallery while I was there. Unfortunately, much of the gallery was closed due to an installation for an upcoming Hannah Höch exhibition. I did, however, see an installation by Kader Attia. The space was transformed by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves full of books and knick-knacks that created a smaller room-within-a-room that could be entered, and contained even more artifacts. The look at history and collecting was highly engaging. The explanation provided here gives more information.
As is always the case with vacations, I wish I had seen and done more. I am glad that I made time to visit a few cultural institutions and I know I'll be back to the city to see even more at some point. London is a beautiful, inspiring place. There is so much history there and even the cobblestones seem to contain more character and energy than our salt-stained asphalt. The fact that I drank at a pub that outdates my country by centuries was tough to wrap my head around - Charles Dickens drank at that same pub and it was old even then.
All this to say, I could never provide a definitive look at art in London - the city has so much to offer - but I did want to be sure to post on my experience there. As this blog has evolved into a place for me to voice my thoughts on art and culture, I didn't want to miss the chance to talk about London.
Until next time.