Trafalgar Square, The Tube & Public Art on the way to the Tate Modern

As a newly minted as an HE student who has never visited the Tate Modern before, I hopped on a train and headed down to London to visit the iconic gallery.

There were a lot of interesting sights and things of note before we’d even got as far as the Southbank, so I would like to share those with you.

Travelling across London on the Tube exposes you to a huge wealth of design history; from the signage and decoration of the stations to the textile designs (known as a ‘moquette’). The current moquette is called ‘Barman’ and features key buildings from London’s skyline, including the London Eye. Can you spot the others? 

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The fabric has been used on underground trains, starting with the central line in 2011. You can read an interview with the designers Wallace-Sewell here

The fourth plinth on Trafalgar Square was shrouded in wrapping when we were there but a few days later David Shrigley who, incidentally has recently done a collaboration with Tiger on everything from plectrums to a rather nice bag (that I think pretty much everyone in the Art building now owns!) had a sculpture called ‘Really Good’ unveiled.

I happened to be in London again a couple of day’s later, but in true Kitty form neglected to take a photo. Here is the photo from the Fourth Plinth website of it:

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‘Really Good’ (2016) – David Shrigley

I better find some other superlatives to describe my feelings for it; safe to say I love the positivity of its message and how the super elongated thumb echoes the height of Nelson’s Column.

Another interesting spot was on the outside of the Hilton London Bankside, a juxtaposition of exposed filament bulbs and tin ceiling tiles with a diptych by Niki Hare.

I am always drawn to strong blues and teals, but where this work really shines, for me is with the orange and yellow ochre letters, they stand out beautifully to my eyes. The tin tiles and filament bulbs feel historical in a carefully curated way; that sort of bulb is increasingly popular at the moment, which I think is a response to how displeasing energy saving bulbs are to the eye; these bulbs have a warmth and understated feel softens the harshness of a fairly modern building.

Finally, before entering the gallery, I spotted some interesting sculptures of heads. They lead you closer to the monolith that is the former power station and they are by a scultptor called Emily Young. I think what made them stand out to me was that the heads are beautifully carved but the back of the head is left natural. These are the ones that caught my eye:

‘Stillness Born of History II’ (2014)
(Onyx with Volcanic Pyroclastic Brecchia) – Emily Young

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‘Planet’ (2012) (Clastic Igneous Rock) – Emily Young

There is something entrancing about the smooth, carefully hewn features combined with the natural, rocky outcrop that is hidden behind the face. You can explore more of Young’s work on the Bowman Sculpture Catalogue website and on her own gallery page on her website.

Next time I will be writing about the Louise Bourgeois Artist’s Room and the Materials and Objects exhibition at the Tate.

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