Finally I make it to the Tate Modern! I've only been meaning to visit pretty much ever since it opened. Wandering down from St. Paul's, across the no-longer-wobbly Millenium Footbridge is a lovely introduction to the building, although with the main entrance being at the end of the building to your right, it can take a little while to get your bearings and start to find your way around the exhibitions. Maybe the current renovations of the part you arrive at from the bridge contribute to the problem.
Bankside, to my mind, isn't the most stunning piece of architecture, but its clean, modernist lines are quite pleasing to the eye. The conversion from power station to art gallery has been very well done: the immense turbine hall almost gives the impression of an outdoor public square, with the galleries adjacent; in and around the galleries are many pockets of benches or welcoming leather sofas from which visitors may either observe the art and life in the turbine hall, or gaze out over the Thames; and even little touches like the recessed illumination of the hand-rails on the staircases.
Learning from my trip to the Biennial, this time I scribbled down a list of artists whose work I particularly liked, and thanks to the superb Tate website, I can point you to more information on each of them, and images of most of them.
Mark Rothko (bio on Wikipedia) was my big discovery of the trip. I'd seen some of his work on posters before but the texture, and in some cases sheer scale, of the pieces has given me a whole new appreciation of his art. I see from this list of all the works of his owned by the Tate that there's also one on display at the Tate Liverpool. I'll have to keep an eye out for it when I next visit.
Similarly, one of Andy Warhol's soup cans is at Tate Liverpool. There was a whole room of Warhols at Tate Modern, but no soup.
Michael Landy's Scrapheap Services takes up a whole room, and only a handful of people are allowed in at any one time to prevent further damage to those "on the scrapheap". Thought-provoking contrast between the jolly, bright and seemingly caring slogans of the fictional Scrapheap Services company and the detritus of the scrapped, made-from-litter people.
Jean Pierre Yvaral's Relief cinétique - Accélération optique was the best of a collection of optical illusion works which appeared to animate as your viewpoint moved past them.
Britain Viewed From The North by Tony Cragg puts a different slant on our usual view of the country; and its composition from bits of litter and junk the artist found on the streets of northern cities serves as a social comment on life in the North in the early 80s.
Yves Klein's IKB 79 looks rather boring and trivial on the website, but that doesn't do the artwork justice. In the flesh, it has a vibrancy and power that obviously doesn't translate well. One of my favourites from the trip.
And finally, Robert Therrien. I almost didn't see No Title 1991 as it's installed in one of the hallways just outside the gallery rather than the gallery itself. It's a huge, enamel raincloud, peppered with taps - of the kitchen sink variety. Simple, effective, amusing.
The Saturday before last saw me down in London for the day. In what seems to becoming a pattern, there was a mosey round the city to look at some buildings (pictures taken, will be posted when I've got them resized, labelled, etc.); a few hours spent taking in some art (more on my trip to the Tate Modern soon); and then a party in the evening.
The party was what brought me to London in the main, the other activities were things I've been wanting to do for a while when I had some spare time in the capital. So, not long after 7:30, I arrived at the Green Man (well chosen, Sasha, only two stops from Kings Cross so easy for those of us returning to Cambridge) for the UK Webloggers' End of Year Party 2004.
It was good to finally catch up with all sorts of people I've been reading, trading comments or emails with, and some people whose blog I've only dipped into from time to time. It's funny how you have some sort of composite of people from their writing, and it's rarely the same as when you meet them face to face.
It wasn't anywhere near as geeky as I'd expected - very few cameras or gadgets on view, which is probably why there are only four photos online. My camera didn't see any service after I'd got to the Tate. And blogs weren't much of a topic of conversation either, apart from during introductions; with subjects ranging from 80s nostalgia with Robin's many interesting band stories (I see speakingasamusician.com is still available...), to food hygiene and Welsh restaurants.
All in all, good fun. Thanks to the Funjunkie crew for making it all happen.
"...see you in your next life when we'll fly away for good."
Only about a year after all the super-cool-early-adopter geeks signed up, I've finally jumped on the del.icio.us bandwagon.
For those of you who don't know, del.icio.us is a "social bookmarks system". Bookmarks because it's a way of storing your bookmarks or favourites on the web; so you can get at them from any computer anywhere and you can provide a short description so you've some chance of remembering why you bookmarked it. And social because you can see other people's bookmarks.
That last part doesn't sound very interesting, until I tell you about tags. When you create a bookmark you can specify some tags for that bookmark, a bit like keywords or categories. Then you can search for all of your bookmarks with a given tag, or all of everyone's bookmarks with a given tag - for example, http://del.icio.us/tag/liverpool+football gives you all the bookmarks tagged with liverpool and football.
The upshot of all this, for those of you who haven't rushed off and signed up yourself, is that I've set-up del.icio.us to post any new bookmarks to McFilter. So, in an hour or so (if I've set it up right, otherwise real soon now honest...) there should be a new entry containing my bookmarks. Then each day, if I've saved any new bookmarks, there'll be an entry with the new ones in. There may be some changes to the formatting too, depending on what the entries look like.
If you're still reading, and if the idea has piqued your interest, here's a good, user-friendly introduction. Then you might want to look at nutr.itio.us which makes choosing tags a bit easier when you add bookmarks, and the delicious Firefox extension which gives you some handy new items on your right-click menu if you use Firefox rather than Internet Explorer (and you should). Finally, instructions on getting del.icio.us to post bookmarks to your blog (I'm currently working on how to set this up for blogger/blogspot blogs, so I'll post details when I work it out).
Now that the Biennial is over, Ian Jackson (he of Biennial Blog fame) has launched a new blog - the Art In Liverpool Weblog. More general in scope, although something tells me it'll still pretty much focus on Liverpool. And art.
Be sure to check out the cool Jaguar sculpture.
And as I had my camera with me, there were plenty of photos taken of the varied types of architecture...
Liverpool has a number of rather grand public buildings. Keeping watch over the city are the two cathedrals: the Roman Catholic Metropolitan, affectionally known as Paddy's Wigwam; and the Anglican, the largest Anglican cathedral in Britain and Europe. The Anglican celebrates the centenary of the laying of its foundation stone this year, although rather amazingly the Metropolitan was finished first - in 1967, eleven years before the Anglican was fully complete.
There are more grand buildings to be found on William Brown Street - The Walker (below right), the Liverpool Museum (below left), and St. Georges Hall. I didn't get any photos of St. Georges Hall, as it's currently under wraps being restored.
Of course the best known building in Liverpool is the Liver Building, but if you walk away from the river, up Water Street and into the central business district, you'll find a collection of other fine office blocks also from the first half of the twentieth century.
At the bottom of Water Street are the Tower Buildings, the offices where my grandfather spent most of his working life, now being converted into luxury apartments. Further up on the same side is the Martins Bank Building, with even closer family ties - my Mum worked here, in the architecture department, until I was born. By then, Martins Bank had merged with Barclays and the building, with its grand banking hall, is still used as a branch today.
Back down at the waterfront, the regeneration of the docklands continues apace. I doubt that much of what's finished will end up Grade II listed in a hundred years, but it's putting the dockland back to use, and some of the planned towers look suitably impressive.
The Royal Quay apartments look nearly abandoned on the car park for the Albert Dock, and seem almost a pastiche of their 19th century warehouse neighbours. I can't quite put my finger on why, but they seem rather bland - perhaps it's the colour of the walls, or the lack of symmetry.
Developments on the other side of the Pier Head are more promising. There's already the new Radisson Hotel and Beetham Tower, and a number of office blocks on Princes Dock. They could all quite happily be dumped into any number of business parks anywhere in the country without anyone noticing; so they aren't too exciting, but that buildings which wouldn't be out of place on the M4-corridor are being built is a promising sign for the confidence of the city. There's a noticeable contrast between the two photographs below, both taken from the same spot, just at 180° intervals - the dilapidated moorings on the river vs. the cranes and new offices around the dock.
The cranes are constructing (I think) a new multi-storey car park; just off to the left of the picture, work has commenced on the new Conran-designed City Lofts development; and a raft of other projects are going through planning. There's a good round-up of all the developments over at skyscrapercity.com.
So there's a level of activity and a number of cranes in and around the docks which hasn't been seen for years; but rather than loading and unloading cargoes, they're creating the next wave of business for the 'Pool.
"Over the course of the coming year, all existing licences regarding the sale of alcohol and public entertainments are being replaced by a new licensing system that allows for the possibility of staying open until 5am, as clubs and bars on the continent do. B Bar, Vaults, Bar Ha Ha and Number 1 King%u2019s Parade are all applying for extended licenses."
Coco's club seems set to close and be reborn (again) as "The Soul Tree", which at least sounds promising, and Po Na Na is due for an extension. It doesn't say whether thats an extension of physical space, or an extension of its opening hours - both would be useful...