Saturday Night @ Tate Modern, Bankside

Last Saturday, we visited Tate Modern for dinner and the Paul Klee‘s exhibition. I was nearly shaking off my cold and itching to go out. Therefore, Hubbie booked the tickets on internet and off we went.

Tate Modern has been my most favourite art gallery ever since it opened its door to the public in 2000. I especially love the architecture. The old Bankside power station was remodelled and refitted by a talented architectural duo, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron in order to accommodate a vast collection of modern art which was stored in the Tate’s warehouse because of the lack of suitable space…

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A mass of brickwork with an equally imposing chimney looms above the Thames. A volume of its brickwork and colossal weight is unarguable. It appears impregnable and impervious to any external assault. Yet, its footing, where the building meets the ground, is punctuated with narrow glazed slits here and there. These juxtapositions of heavy vs light, density vs weightlessness and opaque vs transparent, fuel my fascination and imagination every time I visit the gallery. For me, the charm of Tate Modern is all about this thought-provoking paradox which is dotted around all over the complex, including their art collection.
Another famous architectural face of Bankside is the Millennium Bridge by Sir Norman Foster, which connects the foreground of the galley with City of London. Approaching Tate Modern via the footbridge must be the most spectacular and rewarding way for many visitors. However, the bridge itself doesn’t excite me as much as the gallery does. Do you know why? Yes, the bridge looks great. However, it doesn’t inspire nor intrigue me. It’s a marvel of British engineering but not a piece of art which initiates any philosophical debate. The bridge could have won my praise if the design of the bridge, especially the Bankside end, was integrated to Tate Modern’s forecourt seamlessly. Instead of a cumbersome footing with zigzagging lamps, why the bridge could not morph into a part of the landscape? The effect would have been so much more elegant and magical. Well, the landscaping between the bridge and the gallery was somehow awkward from the beginning anyway. Maybe there was some artistic disagreement between three great architects?

Our entry to the Paul Klee exhibition was from 19:30, therefore, we decided to have dinner first…

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Tate Cafe on the ground floor was fairly busy but their service was brisk and efficient.
I pondered between a burger or fish & chips, but in the end, fish & chips won me over…

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The battering encasing the fish was so crisp and moreish. And the potato was fried to its perfection. Their mushy peas was minty and refreshing.

For dessert, we shared a slice of coconut meringue Swiss roll with red berry compote…

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Our first two choices, trifle and cheese cake, were sold out, therefore, we didn’t expect much from our third choice. But oh my! We were betrayed in a good way. The cake was moist, fluffy and divine. And the berry compote added perfect zinginess to otherwise delicate texture of the cake.

After dinner, we browsed around a bookshop on the lower ground floor…

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There were more than a few coffee table books I want to add to my Christmas wish list…

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Then, we headed to the exhibition on the second floor via escalator…

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For me, the escalator ride from the lower ground level to the second floor gallery level is one of the best Tate Modern experiences.

Paul Klee, here we come…

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The exhibition was wonderful.
And I shall definitely review it properly in a few days time.

We left the gallery, thoroughly satisfied and excited…

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The new extension of the gallery will be completed by 2015. I can hardly contain a huge expectation I have towards this exciting project…

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Will it be as awe-inspiring as the existing Turbine Hall? We will have to wait and see for another 2 years. I shall keep on reporting any progress at the site in future…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Gems of Bloomsbury

My favourite route to home from Hubbie’s office is through Bloomsbury area.
From Tottenham Court Road – one of my least favourite streets in London. Apart from Heal’s and Habitat, there are no places of interest for me –  I turn into Torrington Place.
From there, I carry on walking eastward via my favourite Byng Place & Gordon Square.
Passing a rather dreary looking Tavistock Hotel on the right, I proceeded towards Tavistock place.

On this street, there is a handsome landmark, Mary Ward House

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Playfully arranged windows above the entrance grabs my attention.
Then, my eyes are drawn to the details – the masonry work with organic curves which strongly suggests the influence by the Art & Craft Movement of the 19th Century.
Also the sign above the left entrance, painted in the same black as the double leaf doors below, reminds me of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s…

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The golden lettering which is bordered with uneven oval dots has the uncanny charm of Art Nouveau.
Apparently, the building is up for hire for cooperate events.
Through their image gallery, the state of the interior becomes apparent.
Alas, most of the rooms are devoid of the original features!
The walls are painted in lighter shades instead of William Morris style wallpaper or dark stained wood panels.
Apart from Dickens Library which preserves beautifully glazed tile fireplaces as well as the dark wood panelling which divides the wall surfaces with the distinctive geometry of the Art & Craft style, the building has been modernised in a rather bland manner.
Oh well, even historical buildings have to earn their own keep somehow nowadays.
I understand…

From Tavistock Place, I turn into lively Marchmont Street.
Then, skirting around Brunswick Centre, I head towards Lambs Conduit Street.

Lambs Conduit Street is crammed with independent shops, mainly men’s / unisex fashion retailers.
Most of the shops were closed when I walked through the street last time.
So I had to be content with peeping through the darkened shop windows.
How do you find this display case?

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Instead of treating the cabinet too preciously, they rejuvenated it with a playful use of magazine clippings.
What a great idea!

On nearby Rugby Street, there are a few places you shouldn’t miss when you are visiting the area.

Ben Pentreath Ltd on 17 Rugby Street…

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Shame that I can’t show you their beautiful shop window.
It is obvious that the items they sell are chosen with love and care.
I find most of them quintessentially modern British. Refined, yet left with a hint of handcrafting. Sophisticated, yet approachable. And not cheap, yet the price worth paying for.

Another shop never to be missed is Maggie Owen

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They specialised in costume jewellery.

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You mustn’t underestimate it only because they are not fine jewellery.
Maggie Owen’s offerings are costume jewellery with gusto.
Until visiting this Aladdin’s Cave, I never knew that costume jewellery could be this opulent and flamboyant.
The intricacy of the work involves does reflect on the price. However, the impact which a lucky wearer gives to her audience is well worth paying for.

I shall revisit the area once I’ve recover from the surgery.
So please watch out this space…

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