Spending the night at Juna’s student house with fellow school-friend Fran we planned how we would spend the next 24 hours; visiting Whitechapel Gallery and see as much of the new Tate Modern extension as possible, before inevitably hitting a wall of tiredness and consuming way too much fast food.
To get to the Whitechapel gallery we had to take two tubes. We ended up spending 45 minutes walking underground as the tube map didn’t quite depict the long journey between platforms.
Arriving in the rain the free-entry gallery was buzzing with a mix of people. We were specifically there for the Guerrilla Girls Exhibition ‘Is it even worse in Europe?’. The focus of the exhibition was to question the diversity in European art organisations. The display featured questionnaires written by the Guerrilla Girls and filled out by the art organisations (well, the 1/4 that replied..). Much smaller than I was expecting the display still managed to get its point across with the hint of humour synonymous with Guerrilla Girls. The gallery itself was very accessible, next-door to a tube station with a free cloakroom and a well-stocked gift shop. It’s worth a visit if you spot an exhibition that appeals to you.
Next on our list was the new Tate Modern Extension. We took the tube to London Bridge and walked along the Southbank hunting for standout architecture, not hard to find beside the river..
The architecture hunt led us straight into the newly opened Switch House, the Tate Modern extension creating 60% more exhibition space. The previous Tate Modern could be hit and miss but the work on display here often rendered me speechless. Having a mix of video installations, interactive displays and 3d-work means it has something to offer everyone.
Below is a photo from my favourite exhibit by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. It is an immersive video installation piece featuring multiple screens along with pillows allowing you to sit/lie and take it all in. The videos begin by providing what looks like a linear narrative based in a Thai town, it then bounces between fantasy and documentary. If there wasn’t another 7 floors to explore you could spend all day here.
Other displays included an exhibit using 3-D pieces to explore the relationship between objects & architecture and living cities, an artistic look into modern day cities. On a personal level some contemporary pieces have the ability to go over my head which is okay, but on the whole I was really impressed with the work I saw.
At the very top of the building is an open-air viewing platform, definitely not an option for those with a fear of heights. Luckily I love heights and I couldn’t believe the tower gave a full 360° view across central London.
We had planned to potentially visit the British Museum but after a quick glance at our watches we had to admit defeat, rush hour would prevent us getting their before it shut. So with already aching feet we filled our stomachs and headed back to Juna’s.
Despite being a regular visitor to London I always forget that no matter how much time you have, two gallery/museum visits in a day is more than enough. Especially if your visiting somewhere as vast as one of the Tate museums then one can often be enough, otherwise you can be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of art on show. Overall is was a brilliant day and a very cheap one as both the galleries were free.If your careful in London, the most expensive thing you can buy will be lunch and an underground pass.