Visit London Blog » tate Enjoy the very best of London Tue, 16 Sep 2014 10:29:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 New Tate Britain Unveiled Wed, 20 Nov 2013 10:50:06 +0000

(c) Helene Binet

Art fans will be delighted by the new-look Tate Britain. The historic gallery reopened its riverfront entrance earlier this week and revealed the new Rotunda reception area, complete with a striking new spiral staircase.

This marks the end of a raft of changes to the building spanning back to March 2011, which aims to transform the oldest part of the Grade II building. This includes the now reopened Millbank entrance, Rotunda, and galleries in the south-east quadrant, which were reopened in May.

The transformation is more of an update than an expansion by architects Caruso St John, who have managed to keep the new touches in line with the nineteenth century style of the building. The new black and white scalloped terrazzo staircase is the centrepiece of the new Tate Britain, with a pattern inspired by Roman baths but which may recall Art Deco for most.

(c) Helene Binet

The Rotunda entrance and the surrounding walkways and stairwells are all open to the public again, restoring logic to the space and highlighting the presence of three levels. The gallery hopes this will allow guests to navigate and flow around the building more easily.

The lower floor hosts amenities such as the new education centre, Archive Gallery, the restored Rex Whistler restaurant – complete with its famous mural by the artist – and the new Djanogly café, which has a vaulted ceiling and opens out onto a terrace.

(c) Helene Binet

The top floor, which has been closed since the 1920s, is now a member’s area complete with its own bar. The main floor gives access to the collections, and there is now a better sight line through the gallery, allowing guests to orientate themselves and begin to work their way through the displays.

The works themselves were rehung in May, when the south-east gallery refurbishments were completed. The work is now displayed strictly chronologically, allowing guests to take a journey through nearly 500 years of British art, starting at 1540. This walk-through is supplemented by BP Spotlight exhibitions and new permanent galleries devoted to William Blake and Henry Moore.

Keep your eyes peeled for three individually commissioned artistic elements. In the Millbank foyer, Richard Wright has hand designed the glasswork within the eastern window to match the patchwork design of the WWII-damaged western window. Alan Johnston has hand shaded the ceiling for the Djanogly Café (below) with a 9H pencil. Finally, Nicole Wermers has created a dual headed tea and coffee spoon, which the Tate management hope aren’t too much of a temptation to souvenir collectors.

To celebrate Tate Britain is hosting a housewarming party from 15:00-22:00 on Saturday (23 Nov). Be sure to go and see the new spaces first hand and enjoy a DJ set from Hot Chip frontman Alexis Taylor, as well as a selection of talks, workshops and sound installations.

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2012 Team Highlights Fri, 28 Dec 2012 09:00:38 +0000 The London 2012 Olympic rings on Tower Bridge

The London 2012 Olympic rings on Tower Bridge

What a year it’s been for London. As well as hosting the biggest sporting event in the world the city has celebrated the Queen’s 60th year on the throne, marked Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday, re-opened the world’s last remaining tea clipper and played a big part in the World Shakespeare Festival. There are almost too many good bits to cram into one blog post, but here are some of the Visit London blog team’s 2012 highlights:


“It’s possibly been London’s best year since the Romans decided to build a crossing over the Thames. Highlights have included the 100m-high photo of the Royal Family on Sea Container’s House to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, the completion of the Overground line making it easier to zip around London from south of the river and perhaps most memorable of all, seeing the Olympic Rings hanging from Tower Bridge. I’m sure the Romans would have approved.”
Tom Butler


“In 2012 I enjoyed flying through the sky on the Emirates Air Line, visiting the beautifully refurbished Cutty Sark and fell madly in love with the Hollywood Costume exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum. I had a great day out at Mudchute City Farm in the summer and met some splendid sheep and a grumpy rabbit. My favourite theatre show of the year was The Ladykillers with Peter Capaldi and I’m still excited about visiting The Who Shop.
I’ve watched people celebrating public events in The Mall on television so many times but the athletes’ parade was the first time I’ve ever joined the crowds in the street to cheer. It was an absolutely perfect afternoon, the perfect end to a wonderful London 2012 games and a London moment I’ll never forget.”


“My 2012 highlights include seeing the Royal Ballet’s La Fille Mal Gardee with my mum (visiting from Australia) at the always impressive Royal Opera House. Finally seeing Wicked, and having second-row seats that meant I could bask in the full glory of the amazing costumes. And rocking out to Cold Chisel, Iggy Pop & The Stooges and Soundgarden in Hyde Park.
Closer to home, it was a real buzz to see Grayson Perry’s Walthamstow Tapestry in Walthamstow, at the newly renovated William Morris Gallery. I enjoyed my local street party for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I also discovered the delights of Victoria Park, which I visited several times, including during the Olympics when the BT Live Site provided a great family day out.”
Claire Doble


For me, 2012 was all about one-off festivals like BT River of Music and BT London Live where I saw Blur close the Olympic celebrations. There were also smaller experiences like sampling “pick your own” strawberries on the roof of the new Harmony boat on the Thames. Seeing Mark Rylance as Richard III at Shakespeare’s Globe was an honour, as was being in a room with London’s acting elite at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. But the stand-out event, and it was so immense and unmatched that I’m not sure “event” really covers it, was Danny Boyle’s Olympic Opening Ceremony. I watched on TV (while playing an elaborate Olympic-themed drinking game) and am not ashamed to say that parts of it moved me to tears.”
Louise Ridley


“The undoubted highlight of my year was being part of the Thames Jubilee Pageant. Seeing 1,000 boats, carrying all manner of people, come together in celebration of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, was something I’ll never forget. It was especially brilliant to see everyone ignoring the wet weather and carrying on regardless! Cultural highlights of my year were seeing Henry V at the Globe Theatre and finally visiting the Steam Museum at Kew. In 2012, London for me has also been augmented by the addition of Duck and Waffle to the capital’s vertical gastronomy scene, as well as a new Hawksmoor outpost in Air Street and the continued expansion of London’s craft beer scene.”
Caroline Roddis


“There have been so many amazing things to enjoy this year.  My highlights have to include the bright and beautiful paintings of David Hockney at the Royal Academy and the fabulous glamour of the musical Top Hat. I was thrilled to explore the Cutty Sark when it reopened looking more stunning than ever before. I loved the giant Olympic Rings at Tower Bridge and watching the city welcome the Olympic Games. I went to see the beach volleyball and loved the feeling of being on a beach in the middle of Horse Guard’s Parade. It has been an incredible 2012 for me!”


“Who wouldn’t put this year’s summer of sport as the number one highlight of 2012? However, it wasn’t just the sporting competitions that stood out for me. The showcase of celebrations and cultural events pulled together by the Mayor’s office was fantastic. In particular, the breath-taking open-air performance of Bells in Finchley, North London, on the day that the Olympic torch passed through the area. This aerial dance performance, a collaboration between Theater Tol (Belgium) and Akademi (London), was utterly original and awe-inspiring.

My kids also loved tracking down the many disguised Wenlocks and Mandevilles that were dotted around London throughout the summer. The trails were reminiscent of the Faberge egg hunt at Easter, which they also enjoyed.”
Lianne Korilin


“Aside from the all the buzz and excitement that goes with living and working in an Olympic city over the summer, there have been plenty of pre- and post-Games highlights. The bunting, the cake, and the precious hours before the torrential rain made for a brilliant Diamond Jubilee celebration in Battersea Park – I even saw the Queen as she floated past on the Royal Barge! The David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy lived up to all the hype and I also ticked a couple of London’s smaller museums off my list – Keat’s House and the Freud Museum. My favourite theatre of the year was undoubtedly Constellations (but in a parallel universe it might not be…)”


“From Damien Hirst at Tate Modern to Fifty Years of Bond Style at the Barbican, 2012 has been a top year for exhibitions in London. I also loved seeing the totally bonkers Lucho Libre Mexican wrestling at Bethnal Green’s Resistance Gallery where I enjoyed a night of spandex, cabaret, comedy and body-slamming fun.

Culinary highlights included dinner at Ceviche, London’s hottest new Peruvian restaurant, and a delightful, great-value afternoon tea at Soho’s secret tea rooms, sited in a vintage-style room above a pub.

A visit to the Aquatics Centre at the Olympic Park was a stand-out moment for me, as well as soaking up some of the cultural events that ran alongside London 2012 – seeing hats on some of the capital’s most famous statues as part of Hatwalk and being wowed by the Lords of Lightning, who flung four million volts of raw electricity at one another at the hip Frank’s bar, perched atop Peckham multi-storey car park in South London, which has epic views of the city’s skyline.”
Janine Kelso


“An incredible year in London for me: from watching the Diamond Jubilee Pageant at Battersea Park to white water rafting at an Olympic venue, going up the Orbit during the 2012 games and bouncing on Jeremy Deller’s Sacrilege (an inflatable Stonehenge) . My theatre highlights have included Chariots of Fire, Last of the Haussmann’s, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, and Constellations. From a foodie perspective I have loved all the street food at the South Bank and the most amazing breakfast with breath-taking panoramic views of London from the Duck and Waffle. There were so many surprises too, including the amazing pop-up circus spectacular in Piccadilly Circus and watching London’s Bridges dazzle. Roll on 2013 I can’t wait!
Madelene Yeshin


“My best experience of 2012 was at the Paralympic Games. After a few hours spent looking around the Olympic Park, enjoying the architecture, parklands and friendly atmosphere, I headed into the stadium for the athletics. I saw Oscar Pistorius unexpectedly lose the T44 200m final and David Weir roar into the lead at the last minute to win the 5,000m wheelchair race. So exciting! I thought the tickets were amazing value at just £20.

My second pick of the year is David Hockney: A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy of Arts. I loved walking through room after room of Hockney’s big, colourful paintings. I was impressed by the fact that he has remained so productive and creative into his 70s, experimenting with new technologies such as iPad drawings, and spending days working outside in the Yorkshire countryside with spectacular results.”

What was your highlight of the year in London?

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Video: Olympic Artist In Residence Neville Gabie Fri, 27 Jan 2012 11:23:05 +0000

Today marks six months to go to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. To celebrate, here’s a great video from Tate about  Olympic artist in residence Neville Gabie.

Based at the park for 15 months in the run-up to the Games, Gabie’s work  includes sitting in all 80,000 seats in the Olympic Stadium, and recreating a famous painting with the help of Olympic Park construction workers.


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Eadweard Muybridge: A Peculiar Pioneer Mon, 20 Sep 2010 11:00:54 +0000

Tate Britain’s new exhibition of 19th Century photographs by Eadweard Muybridge left me thinking not just about the power of his images (which laid the foundations for cinema) but also about Muybridge’s strange personality.

Among prints of the American wilderness, stunning panoramas of early San Francisco, and pioneering stop-frame photos of animals and people in motion, there are portraits of Muybridge staring out with a severe expression from behind his wiry facial hair, and slumped moodily against a giant redwood tree.

It must have taken an obsessive personality to venture out into the wilderness and set up darkrooms in caves and mountain tops (he had to process the photos immediately after taking them in those days). Muybridge was also a canny self-promoter, changing his name various times. The spelling “Eadweard” was inspired by a Saxon King.

But halfway through the exhibition a shocking fact about his identity comes to light: he was a murderer. In 1874, on discovering that his son was not in fact his own, he killed his wife’s lover, Harry Larkyns. The following year he was tried but acquitted on the basis that the killing was “justifiable”.

If he had been jailed for the crime, none of his most amazing, groundbreaking works would be sitting in the Tate today, but you can’t help but get a sinister feeling when you look into his eyes.

Eadweard Muybridge at Tate Britain until 16th January 2011. Entry £10, concessions £8.50

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Fiona Banner creates the 2010 Duveens Commission at London’s Tate Britain Tue, 29 Jun 2010 10:00:34 +0000 Duveens Commission Harrier and Jaguar by Fiona Banner. Photo By: Jonny Payne Duveens Commission Harrier and Jaguar by Fiona Banner. Photo By: Jonny Payne Duveens Commission Harrier and Jaguar by Fiona Banner. Photo By: Jonny Payne Duveens Commission Harrier and Jaguar by Fiona Banner. Photo By: Jonny Payne Duveens Commission Harrier and Jaguar by Fiona Banner. Photo By: Jonny Payne Duveens Commission Harrier and Jaguar by Fiona Banner. Photo By: Jonny Payne

Fiona Banner was charged with the enviable task of creating this year’s Duveens Commission at London’s Tate Britain – and she doesn’t disappoint.

During a sneak preview yesterday, I was completely blown-away as two full-scale decommissioned fighter jets filled the space in front of me.

As you enter the Tate, you cannot escape the incredible sight of a Sea Harrier jet suspended from the ceiling. The nose is positioned inches from the floor, with the wings filling the upper spaces of the gallery. Banner has painted feathers on the wings to mimic the plane’s name, and it looks like a bird strung-up by its feet, ready to be plucked.

In the North Duveens gallery a Sepecat Jaguar plane lays almost helplessly on its back, gleaming with a mirror-like finish.

Banner said: “This work is about how you react rather than a big black and white statement. For instance, that the Jaguar is polished is incredibly important because you see yourself reflected in it. You can’t detach yourself from the object. Though in some ways it’s a radical object, it’s also always a fragmented object because it’s constantly being animated by the space and whoever’s looking at it.”

Banner admits to being “seduced” by fighter planes and she has often studied these objects in her work – from drawings to Airfix models. She also produced a sculptural piece from the tail fin of a Harrier Jump Jet ten years ago. She said she was fascinated by “how something that was such a monster could be so beautiful”.

See Fiona Banner’s Duveens Commission at the Tate Britain. Until 3 Jan.

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Video of the Week: A Trip Down Tate Modern’s Memory Lane Fri, 14 May 2010 10:00:03 +0000

Happy 10th Birthday, Tate Modern!

Here’s a trip down memory lane, courtesy of farnishk on YouTube. Remember Olafur Eliasson’s The Weather Project back in 2003-2004, which brought a massive sun into Tate Modern’s incredible Turbine Hall?

It was certainly one of those fantastic, unforgettable Tate Modern shows – the kind the art gallery has become renowned for over the last 10 years.

As Tate Modern celebrates a decade of fantastic art this weekend with No Soul For Sale: A Festival of Independents, we wonder if you could share your favourite Tate Modern memories with us in the comments below.

Did you love Louise Bourgeois’ giant spider? That mindbending crack (Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth)? Carsten Höller’s incredible art-as-amusement-park slides? Or are you still in awe of the Rothko Room? Let us know!

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Visit London Asks: What’s Your Recommendation for Autumn in London? Mon, 05 Oct 2009 11:29:57 +0000 Autumn by kitty_alex, courtesy of the Visit London photostream

Last week was all about London vs New York: if you read the comments, you’ll find London certainly came out on top!

This morning we woke up to autumn in London. Coats, scarves, macs and umbrellas were all in force on the journey into work.

But autumn in London means more than the occasional early-morning downpour. On the sporting calendar we can look forward to world-class rugby league, a visit from both the NBA and the NFL, and world gymnastics and world tennis championships.

With the weather turning colder, you’ve also got an excuse to check out London’s cosy museums and art galleries: autumn brings the Turner Prize to the Tate, Maharaja to the V&A, and Suburbia to the London Transport Museum.

You can also indulge in the Wine Show, the London Restaurant Festival and the RHS Autumn Harvest Show, bringing the countryside to London’s Horticultural Halls.

So, the weather might be a bit murky today, but there’s a lot to look forward to this season!

Let us know what your recommendations are for autumn in London.

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