One of the things I’ve loved the most about blogging (in addition to pushing out boundaries) are the people I’ve come into contact with, both in real life and via Social Media.
Fran is one of these lovely people, and we chat on Twitter, usually shooting the breeze about London and it’s Japanese culture tide drifting through. She writes normally on her blog Sequins and Cherry Blossom (the sequins referring to London’s theatres, the cherry blossom is of course a symbol of Japan) and derives a love for all things Japanese from living and working there.
Fran has been kind enough to visit and write about the Tate Britain Museum, a lovely bit of culture on a dreary Monday morning to cheer you up.
The Tate Rehang
I’ve been wanting to blog about the the Tate rehang for weeks but couldn’t shoehorn it into my blog theme, so I jumped at the chance when Emma offered me a spot on her blog. Thanks Emma!
The Tate Britain is the Gallery of British Art on Millbank, just down from the Houses of Parliament (as opposed to the Tate Modern on Bankside, a short boat ride to the east). They’ve just re-hung their permanent collection for the first time in thirteen years, and I love it. It’s great innovation is, it’s chronological.
That may not sound all that radical, but after the Serota years in which pictures were hung by theme, it’s a huge departure. Plus, the aim is that it will be permanent, so it will be possible to go back and revisit your favourite pictures – I’ve been back twice already. And they’ve done away with long explanatory captions so it’s just you and the picture with the title and artist discreetly shown underneath, as here with John Singer Sargent’s Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose.
Discretion is the hallmark of this exhibition – the dates are set into the floor in gold at the entrance to each room, the walls are a restrained shade of grey and they’re lit by natural light from overhead.
The pictures are predominantly hung at eye level – it means fewer pictures, I grant you, but the trade-off is you get to see them properly. The only exception is the Victorian Gallery where picture are hung two and three deep as they would have been at the time.
The West Wing is given over to pre-twentieth century work, starting in the sixteenth century. So many old favourites here, like Stubbs’s beautiful Horse Frightened by a Lion from 1763.
The East Wing is for twentieth century art. It has a brighter, more colourful feel – and you have to be more careful not to walk into the art works.
William Blake has been given a room to himself and so has Henry Moore – here’s his King and Queen, beautifully displayed in its own niche at the end of the Henry Moore room.
It surely can’t be long before David Hockney, whose recent work caused such a stir at the Royal Academy, merits a room of his own as well. But for the time being we’ve got two old favourites from his early period – Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy and A Bigger Splash.
My only criticism is that the noise from Simon Starling’s projection screens in the Duveen Gallery is audible in most of the rooms, so you don’t get to wander round in peace. Maybe they could turn the soundtrack off on certain days?
But let’s not carp. Let’s just give Tate Britain Director Penelope Curtis a round of applause.
I’ve only been to the Tate Britain once, and it sounds like I really need to make a return visit! Thank you again Fran, the time and effort you have taken is really appreciated.
Ps. Tate Britain is free at the time of writing (with no future plans to begin charging) and is really easy to get to, so you (and I) have no excuses!