My previous experience of Tate Modern, had been inspiring…and this visit was to be no exception. Walking there, along the Southbank of the Thames, from London Bridge, is always a pleasure, with the City of London stretched out in a panoramic view. The Thames itself, these days, is always busy with many boats not only full with foreign tourists but also Brits., desperate to enjoy their city break. The day was actually sunny..I know..so unusual but a welcome for the lines of school children on outings, clutching their A4 ruled sheets of paper and making rough notes or artistically capturing the land marks along their official route.
Passing the Golden Hinde.. Winchester Palace or what ever’s left of it… Clink Prison… Anchor Pub… Wherryman’s Seat… Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre… Cardinal’s Wharf… Christopher Wren’s House.. all within a short space of just a mere few hundred yards. In front of us appeared the Tate Modern Building…… a monument to the power station it once was. Previous to the mid-1990’s it would belch out black smoke leaving a trail of smut around the locality. Its closure had been an invite to the middle classes+ brigade, to move into the local area.
Outside the building, was an exhibit promoting the current Damien Hirst exhibition. Unfortunately, we were just a couple of weeks too late, to view the skull. Personally, some of Hirst’s artworks left me cold. Not excited by the spot painting on the wall & encased flies…until we arrived and experienced the butterflies in room 5. In a way that staff at a local B&Q would disappear through to the store, we walked through some hanging plastic sheeting, into a warm but somewhat damp atmosphere where butterflies were free to fly and land where ever they pleased. Sometime they would just land on peoples hands, shoulders.. or even get cheekily entangled with females hair. An experience not always readily endured by some of the temporary participants of the living art. As the butterflies were pretty large specimens, they were sometimes more than the actual Tate staff could manage.
Moving on through a different set of plastic blinds, we questioned the fact that a large ash tray with cigarette butts was indeed, a piece of art. It was ironic that a little tot with a mini bee backpack, who had obviously been recently taught by her parents, that ash trays and suchlike, were certainly not hygienic. She kept referring by pointing at this 6 foot display and out loud, stating it was YUK. Out of the mouth of babes… It wasn’t til we were through the pharmacy displays, the spinning paintings, the giant beach ball hovering, past the half cows and black sheep, when suddenly a young girl grabbed my arm..my first thought was oh no..she recognised me. Wrong assumption… she pointed out that I had an escaped convict resting on my back..No..not one but two. I quickly walked back to the butterfly room where the security were most positive I couldn’t re-enter. So I turned around and said “would you like these back.”
“Understandably, Mr.Hirst was not available to thank me for the return of his moving living artworks”
Although remaining skeptical regarding some of his works, I did appreciate his butterfly montages and the dove in mid-flight, in the final rooms. (cont @part 2)