An Afternoon Exploring the Tate Modern


My parents and I had a spare afternoon in London and so we decided to head to the Tate Modern. I have been to the gallery a few times with school during my GCSE and A Level Art years, but we saw specific pre-paid exhibitions. Therefore I had never just been to wander round the free exhibition spaces. 


On entering the museum, I am always surprised by the amount of empty space in the centre area of the gallery. I was quite expecting to see a large installation of some sort as this is what I remembered from last time I visited. Having said this, it looked as if the staff were deconstructing what looked like a huge Lego statue, breaking up each of the bricks. We therefore inferred that they were in the process of changing over displays. 


We headed up to level two and discovered some of the open rooms where we were presented with a whole variety of artwork with very diverse approaches, stimuli and inspiration behind them. Some of the pieces were surprisingly very traditional, especially for the Tate, with still portraiture and classic outcomes. Having said this, other works were what I was expecting; abstract installations, works very much open to interpretation and blank white canvases - there was even a framed Supermarket receipt.


I was not expecting to see such highly respected and well-known artists throughout the mixed free exhibitions. We saw some of the works from Anthony Gormley, Picasso, Mondrian and Monet, just to name a few. These were dotted amongst artists that I was not previously aware of, but I thought their work was equally as impressive in terms of their use of colour, their interesting compositions and utilisation of scale and perspective. 


One work that I particularly liked was one by Yinka Shonibare CBE. Just looking at the display, the viewer would not necessarily know that it is centred on the impact of immigration on British culture. ‘The British Library’ contains more than 6,000 books and printed on 2,700 of the books are the names of first and second-generation immigrants in Britain. Together the books look so effective and impactful; they are bound in vivid Dutch wax print fabric. From a distance, the book showcase was not obvious and created a maximal full pattern with all of the books’ spines blurring together. The multicoloured bold covers all juxtapose the books adjacent to them, however this, as well as the non-uniform sizing, creates the excitement and energy.


Another piece that caught my eye was a patchwork-like canvas with vibrant block colours combined to construct the outcome. The large scale piece, Nataraja, is an oil painting and consists of vertical bands of colour that are cut across by diagonals. What I particularly liked was that it was influenced by Indian culture and similarly created a sense of dynamic movement through the use of intricate rhythm and counter-rhythm. This element of free movement reflects the ‘Lord of the Dance’ translation of the painting’s name.


I usually only go to galleries when I have researched what is showcasing at the time, however our exploration around the Tate has showed me that I would benefit from spontaneously visiting event spaces to see what I can discover.



ArtRachel Fox