I’ve never professed to being a big art gallery buff, but there is sometimes nothing better on a Sunday afternoon than exploring a new place – and there are occasions when new place is an art gallery. On this particular Sunday afternoon, the Tate Britain was the location of choice. I had a short two hours before it was due to close, and decided to go on the hunt for something unusual – you know, the interesting but non-famous parts of the building that discovering makes you feel like an explorer.
Unexpectedly, my search began before even leaving Pimlico tube station. The underground seems to have been dedicated to the Tate, and murals on the wall remind you of your destination, (you tourist, you).
It didn’t stop there, as I spotted the Thames underwater white horses (a new art installation) across the river. As it was low tide, they were very much above the water – and surrounded by visitors.
This was definitely one of those occasions where something looks more interesting from a distance. I don’t know about you, but for me white horses and rivers conjure up images of rainforests, craggy mountains, hobbits and Orlando Bloom. Lord of the Rings it is not. The artist behind the installation, Jason deCaires Taylor, apparently explained that, “this piece is about fossil fuels, which way we’re heading, and where our future lies”. The questionable 1960s building that it sits next to certainly spells ugly.
When I finally dragged myself along to the Tate, there were many more gems to discover. The building itself was – of course – notable, with its famous domed roof and spiral stairs (above).
My favourite piece of art – for its weirdness – had to be the peculiar painting where a woman steals the heart of a war veteran as he inspects here eye for dust. Who needs Tinder anyway?
The expressions in this other painting also made for some light entertainment. I can’t tell whether the guy in the top centre is falling asleep or choking on somebody’s bow. And check out that bulging eye belonging to the gentleman in the centre. Creepy alert.
As much as this was enjoyable, my personal favourite part of the trip was stumbling across a small, circular room underground. It contained a series of photographs and cuttings with snippets of information about the gallery’s history – and about those who had built it.
It was here that I found the gem of the afternoon: a note from the plasterers of the building, hidden in 1897.
Let’s be honest, this – the memories and testimonies of ordinary people – is almost always left out of the history books. Which made it my favourite discovery of the day.