London Notes #15

The day after Deptford it rained as if the sky could no longer contain its grief at humanity’s stupidity. But that was okay, because my sister and brother-in-law came for dinner, and to spend the night. She brought pudding, I roasted a chicken, and while it was in the oven we ambled down to the pub.

I can’t tell you how good it was to be able to do that. All of it. To be close enough to my sister for her to be able to pop in without too much ado, to chat about ordinary things in a characterful pub, and cook in a family atmosphere. While I faffed about with potatoes and goose fat my brother-in-law trimmed beans he and D had just brought in from the garden, and my sister passed me a glass of wine. We ate and talked and sipped as though we do it all the time, as once we did.

This trip has been very much a revisiting. I’ve heard many people say, ‘don’t go back,’ or, ‘you can’t go back,’ but I’ve found it nothing but grounding. Maybe that’s because I had no nostalgic intentions and, therefore, no expectations to be disabused of.

One of my major revisitings was of Tate Modern, I can’t emphasis how much I love that place, so I spent most of my last two days there. With my husband (who is just as interested in art as I am, if not quite so intensely obsessed), which made it even more special. Here are some photos from the first day:

The Blavatnik Building at Tate Modern
This is the (still?) recent extension – the Blavatnik Building – it’s huge and marvellous, and just about doubles the size. We had a lovely peaceful wander around.
Yayoi Kusama Piece
I’ve seen a lot of Yayoi Kusama’s work online and in magazines, but this was my first live experience of her art. Lo, it is good!
Yayoi Kusama Piece
Same piece different angle. One of the things I enjoyed most about this was seeing young women fluff their hair and pose before photographing it.
Cube
I can’t remember who this is by (and apologies for the quality of the shot, I was labouring under the misapprehension that photography wasn’t allowed, so I rushed), but D and I loved examining it. He was particularly fond of the slightly squished bucket.
Stairwell
Coloured ribbons of text in the stairwell of the new building.
Ellsworth Kelly Fan
Another first for me: Ellsworth Kelly in the physical world, rather than the virtual one. He’s been one of my favourites for a very long time, and I love this. As I was looking at it a man of about 40 was walking round with two young kids, a girl of about 9-10, a boy of 7 or 8, saying such things as ‘see how the shadow deepens or fades depending on your perspective?’ That’s my fantasy dad!
Gerhard Richter
Richter painted these (there was a whole room full of them!) while listening to John Cage. I approve!
Unknown Artist
I’m thinking the Wreck of the Hesperus; I’m thinking pirates; I’m thinking Miss Haversham’s table cloth…
Poem Objects
Hélio Oiticica’s poetic installation (see image below for description).

Hélio Oiticica installation.

The Snail and D
You don’t need me to tell you what this is.

Once we could take no more art, it can be a bit like eating too many delicious things, we wandered along the Southbank to mooch about the bookstalls.

Southbank bookstalls

Where I bagged myself, amongst other books, an Emily Dickinson’s Complete for twelve quid.

Then onto Soho past this burger munching street art,

Even Statutes Have to Eat

for something to eat.

I wish I could tell you the name of the restaurant we chose because the food was so good I ate* till I popped, but it seems to be the only place from which I didn’t bring back a card**.

I’ll do the second day another time, it will need some work as it involves a very interesting photography exhibition from which I learnt more than I have a right to.


Header image was taken while resting our weary feet on a bench outside the gallery.

*I had satay chicken and crispy duck noodles with hoisin sauce, and an Asian inspired Martini that came – odd but slurp! – with a shot of prosecco. D had spring rolls and noodles with vegetables, and an Asian inspired Mojito (which I coveted).

**I’ve looked at Google maps and think it may have been Busaba on Wardour Street.

5 comments

  1. Ooh! some fascinating things in here. I bet our mutual friend (the NY “art critic”) will have a good mooch when he pops in!
    A great deal of modern work has to be explained to me, though I rather prefer to simply walk away if it doesn’t “speak ” to me! 🙂

    How nice to amble down to the pub while dinner’s in the oven! Our nearest pub is probably a 15-20 minutes drive away.And nothing like an English one.

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  2. I’m expecting him to know all the pieces and artists, and be able to fill my knowledge gaps!
    I also walk away from art that doesn’t ‘speak’ to me, it’s just that the work that does tends to be modern/contemporary – I think I’m drawn by tone and shape in the first instance, but there’s also memory: the Ellsworth Kelly piece instantly brings to mind bias-cut satin cocktail frocks, grand pianos, and dark secrets, which leads to the memory of watching black and white movies with my mother on Sunday afternoons as a child.

    The pubs here are nothing like English ones either.

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  3. I think I had a good mooch. I’m not sure what that is. The Tate is one of my absolute favorites. I’ve not been there in years and it makes me sad. Makes me feel like life is passing me by. Did you have to wait in a queue to see the Kasama piece(s)? That’s usually the case. Thanks for the walking tour.

    Do you know how good that opening paragraph is?! What a lovely string of words.

    So, let’s say money wasn’t an issue. Could you live there? Or is it all too much to take on a permanent basis?

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  4. To mooch is to hang around in an apparently aimless way, it’s not unlike flaneuring only you don’t have to be walking. At least that’s my understanding.
    We didn’t have to queue for anything, the place was virtually empty (except for the Picasso exhibition which seemed to act like a black hole, sucking every visitor in), so we got to move at our own pace and really get a good sense of the work.
    You’ll be back in the Tate before you know it, do you like it better than all the galleries you have access to in NY?

    Do you know, I agonised over that opening paragraph, worried I sounded flippant and, at the same time, melodramatic. So I left it for a day and decided it probably did convey a kind of childlike excitement, or pleasure, about my sister’s visit, and before I could change my mind hit ‘publish.’ So thank you for the validation.

    If money wasn’t an issue I wouldn’t hesitate to live there. Maybe not right in the thick of it, but Blackheath, where we stayed would be perfect. Which reminds me, the house next door has just come on the market for 3.5 million. I want it so much!

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