I’d like to make a prediction that soonish, the new Switch House extension of the Tate Modern will become the place all of us go to get the best view of London. On the tenth floor (ten floors!) there is a viewing gallery walkway where you can see the city from every angle, North, South East and West.
It’s the best point from which to see how fast everything is disappearing behind giant glass towers, I’d not really understood how bad things previously. And it’s free, take that money grabbing Shard building (£25.95 a ticket).
Our tip is to start on the 10th floor and then walk down through the galleries. It really is a fantastic new space and is beautifully designed (by Herzog & De Meuron), the internal architecture almost eclipses the art with its sweeping concrete staircase and rough industrial-chic walls. The way-finding signs are also lovely and there aren’t too many of them to spoil the look.
The art is very accessible too, you walk through it, under it and nearly bang into it in the Louise Bourgeois room. And the place is stuffed with women artists, when I name checked the artist on pieces I liked, they kept being women, that NEVER happens! The Tate Modern’s (female) director Frances Morris, said that the new space held 36% women artists, when Tate Modern first opened it was just 17%.
From Christina Iglesias’s woven burned textile hanging Pavillion Suspended in a Room, to Marisa Merz’s squashed aluminium drain pipes in Untitled (Living Sculpture) above, or Mary Martin’s magical Inversions, below, also made in 1966, which she made in 1966, all the good stuff is by women.
One of my favourite pieces is Ana Lupas’s carefully constructed cylinders and doughnuts of steel and straw wreaths, below, although Rebecca Horn’s textile sculptures for the body are intriguing too, I was desperate to try on the unicorn horn and wander around with it….
There’s a couple of galleries dedicated to Louise Bourgeois, below, whose giant spiders, you may remember, were featured as part of the original Tate opening, in the Turbine Hall.
There are plenty of new cafes and restaurants throughout the new space, much needed as a visit to the Tate really is going to take you a whole day now there’s so much to see. The addition of Switch House means the gallery space has increased by 60%. Luckily there are caged beds with comfy cushions should you need a nap half way round, below, I am not sure if these are art or just a good idea….
I went on Tuesday evening, along with thousands of other Tate Members. We were all a bit over excited, giggling in lifts and smiling wryly at each other over the weirder stuff. There are a couple of parrots in a cage – in a piece by Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica – that you might struggle to appreciate as art, well, I did. Your granny’s budgie will be getting ideas above its station next.
But the best community-bonding-conversations were had out on the viewing platform, where we all marveled at just how close the very expensive block of fancy flats were to the new gallery and how amusing it was to see these luxury flats close up. It was almost as good as an episode of Grand Design. Interior inspiration and art, all in one visit, how much better can it get?
Although it will be stonkingly busy this opening weekend -which is sponsored by Uniqlo – there are lots of fun things planned, including choral art works, art talks and live performance art all day. More details here. Or you may like to wait until Georgia O’Keeffe opens.