My last day in London. Travelodge, being forever helpful, won’t let you leave your bag at the hotel for the day so you have to either carry it around with you or rent a locker at Euston station. At least my feet and my legs didn’t feel as bad as they did the day before, so it’s off to my usual haunt for breakfast, along the Thames to the millennium bridge and Tate Modern.
I will always find Tate Modern and it’s contents completely fascinating and I’m not entirely sure why. Most of the items inside you couldn’t really call art, they aren’t the kind of pieces that you can stare at for ten minutes and see something new for that length of time. It’s more a case of the logistics of making it and setting it up in the gallery. The turbine hall contained the How It Is piece at the far end. You cannot possibly call it art at all, it is just a huge shipping container that is open at one end. It hasn’t been sculpted or moulded by hand in any way it has just been manufactured. You can walk up the ramp and go inside but there is nothing to see, it is completely black. You can hear kids running around, banging on the walls and screaming but that’s it. Possibly that is the point, how much more black could you get! There is a great sign near it which forbids flash photography in the exhibit.
I certainly wasn’t going to walk around carrying my bag so I left it at the cloakroom, purchased a ticket for Pop Life and started to wander. Pop Life was more interesting than the other exhibits, I think that most of the other stuff is static. The kind of pieces that can’t be moved because of their size and weight. One gallery contains a VW camper van and a huge metal slab that is hanging from a girder that mustn’t have been moved in years. Lots of cool stuff by Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, a piece or two by Anish Kapoor and a few items by Damien Hirst that I hadn’t seen before. The strangest of which was not the white calf with gold hooves in a gold framed tank but something much more alive. I was walking around one gallery and saw two young ladies, both blonde, both identically dressed and both twins. Strange to see twins that are dressed the same, surely that is just something that parents do to make their lives easier. Once they get a sense of independence, possibly around the age of 5 or 6, they want to dress differently. Anyway, I didn’t see them again until I was near the Damien Hirst exhibits, when I saw a member of the public talking to them. They were just sat on two chairs about 6 feet apart, any closer and it would have just looked strange. Later when I walked around for the second time they were just talking to each other. I think the description of the ‘piece’ just said Dixie Jo, but I may be mistaken.
It is such a great place that I always contribute the required amount at the cloakroom for looking after my bag and also at the donation boxes on the way out.
Back over the Thames again and down the Embankment, past the Houses of Parliament to Tate Britain. Again leaving my bag at the cloakroom. I did consider going to see the Turner Prize 2009 exhibits but after seeing them in Liverpool a few years ago I decided that paying for the privilege isn’t really worth it, unless you know what is being shown and have some appreciation of the artists. The other items were just as interesting, exhibits by Bridget Riley, Gilbert & George and some huge paintings by David Hockney. The other stuff I’m not really a fan of, the old masters I’m not all that interested in. Some of the oil paintings are interesting because of their size and the detail that goes into them but even the works in the Turner galleries, for me, weren’t worth more than a passing glance as I walked past.
Downstairs for a sandwich £3.50 and a cappuccino £2.20 and to collect my bag. The shock at paying so much for a butty and a drink made me forget to make a contribution. Oh well.
Walking back, in the general direction of Euston station, I had to stop off again at the Apple Store to see if they had any Magic Mice in stock. They were still just selling the Mighty Mouse that I had seen the other day, but I did get to try one on a new iMac and was quite impressed, both with the size of the iMac and of the new mouse. It just didn’t look as if they had any in stock.
My train back wasn’t until 8:00pm so I did have an hour or so to kill beforehand.
Pondering the events of the past few days I don’t think stay in London again. The expense of an overnight stay is too great, that and the lack of rest because you never sleep as well in a strange bed, just isn’t worth it. The journey from home to London is just over an hour and a half on the train. Booking in advanced the trip there and back only cost £30, even a return to Manchester costs about £15 and that’s only about 25 miles away. If there is something in the capital that I want to go and see I can book a ticket ahead of time and go down on an early train and return on a late one. It just isn’t worth staying over.