Saturday, 10 April 2010

Tate Britain yesterday

I had arranged to meet two friends there. G and I had Christmas cards for J, who we hadn't seen as she'd been away in Tasmania. I was half an hour earlier and, having seen off the Big Issue seller with an irritable wave, spread myself on a bench in the sun, took my coat off and basked. I felt like a pigeon that flattens itself with all its feathers spread out in order to take the sun. Too soon, however, J turned up. She has to keep out of the sun as she's had a facial operation, so we went up to the Members Room for cappucino and a shared chunk of carrot cake. (Watching our waistlines.)

Before long, I had a text from G. 'Am walking over bridge from St Pauls. Be there in five.' I read it to J and we frowned. We couldn't think where she was. Then another text arrived. 'Here'. 'Go to members room' I texted. 'Is it on Level 7?' she typed back. 'No Level 7 here', I began, and started telling her to go left, down the stairs, past the loos, up some more stairs... Then it dawned on us. G had gone to the Tate Modern by mistake!

There is a ferry service between the Tates and 20 mins later G arrived, by which time I was sauntering round the Henry Moore Exhibition. Nothing moved me profoundly until I got to the room containing his drawings of miners and people sleeping on tube platforms during the war. Then I saw how, just with a black and white drawing, he had made them as solid, as symbolic, as immortal as if he had carved them in stone. I was astounded by the power of these drawings and the emotions they raised in me. I could have stayed there for hours. Four Grey Sleepers, Mother and Baby, and one of three people under a blanket transcended their subject and entered the spirit of poetry.

I staggered out and found my pals. By now it was quarter to one and G announced we should have lunch before the crowds flocked to the cafe. J and I looked at each other. "I suppose we should, otherwise we'll go to the Chris Ofili exhibition and won't eat till three." So down the hatch went more food, a quiche and salad in my case.

Ofili... astounding, dazzling, skilled, visionary, entertaining, dark undertones of magic, steamy jungle miasmas and a showman with colours and bling. Wow. Just wow.

Then G announced it was time for afternoon tea...


Perovskia said...

I loved how you described the drawings of the miners. I felt like I was there seeing it myself.

hydra said...

You can see them yourself if you Google Henry Moor miners drawings.