MON 30th JULY
Wow, it’s hard work being a tourist. Walking around London for ten hours really does nothing four your feet and Monday was no exception. This was to be my ‘art’ day, fitting in as many shows as I could before I met up with my friend Mags that evening.
I started off by hopping on the first off-peak train straight from St Albans to Blackfriars Bridge. I was so bloody pleased to see that when I got their, the construction work they had been doing for the last two years was nearly complete and the new entrance on the Tate bankside was now open; saving my feet more pain. The landscape looks so different now with The Shard dominating the southside of the Thames. It has had some stick but I honestly think it looks magnificent; unlike the monster that is the Orbit over in the Olympic Park and it’s £15 entry fee. Then again, I should eat my words. When the shard opens to the public in the Spring, it will allegedly have an entry fee of £25. Will it be money worth spent to experience a view from the tallest building in Europe? We’ll see.
Anyway, today was about art. First I went on over to see the Damien Hirst retrospective in Tate Modern. Some of his older hits still have the power to amazing but his other newer and regurgitated works just frustrate and gets on your tits. Although, there was one very special surprise in store for those who venture in…
And then there was Edvard Munch; an artist whose paintings are now so iconic, that they are recognised all over the world. The show was an insight into the workings on Edvard Munch’s obsessive and dark mind – dealing with the nature of repetition, the age of photography and film and the influence that illness and death played in his work. Both shows were nothing less than impressive and obvious crowd-pullers for the summer season.
Following that I had a wander though the Southbank and over to the cusp of Leicester Square to see the National Portrait Gallery’s annual BP Portrait Prize. This is always mind-blowing, always free and always one of my favourite and most enjoyable exhibitions every single year that I see it. This one was my fifth and although my favourite was the 2010 prize, this one was still full of treasures to discover and astonishing talent that just makes any artists fucking weep with jealousy. There was also a great second exhibition called Road to 2012: Aiming High, in which a number of photographers had captured portraits of the athletes, coaches and those making the games happen; creating a lasting artistic document of all of those involved in the London2012 games. There are many different styles at play; some even parodying famous portraits of the past, such as the classic American Gothic by Grant Wood.
It had gone one o’clock and the feet were hurting. It was time to get the Piccadilly Line then the Victoria to Pimlico and to make my way to Tate Britain. I wanted to catch Another London; a photography exhibition depicting London life from the late 1800’s to the late 1980’s. It tells beautifully the story of the capital city of an island country. It is told through the eyes of the many different immigrants that have fled or moved here throughout the last century, from the Jewish in the 30’s and 40’s to the West Indian and Caribbean in the 50’s and 60’s; and each artist tells London’s story through their own experience. This pressed all of the right emotional buttons and I only wish there were more to see. I do think it could have been twice the size. At least I got the book as a souvenir!
By now my feet were ready to just shrivel up and fall off, leaving me to walk around London with just stumps. I headed on over to Angel because I’d seen somewhere a photograph of a lifesize Routemaster doing press-ups. I couldn’t see it anywhere so instead I went into the nearest pub I could find to get some food.
A burger and Guinness and I hopped on a bus to give myself time to finish the last Wallander book and as I passed through Islington I saw that damn bus. It turns out it is a piece of art by Czech artist, david Cerny. It does actual press-ups. However, I was underwhelmed actually.
Iended up in Camden where I met up with my buddy Mags for a boozey do. I finished off the night by necking some more Guinness and a little Scotch in The World’s End before it was time to head back to St Albans. Being a tourist is the most tiring unpaid job I’ve ever had.