Monday, 25 August 2008

Independent Excursions in London: Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Westminster Abbey

I decided to explore London by myself. These times I found to be some of my most favorite memories as I was able to drift in and out of these institutions with no time constraints or responsibility. I chose to visit the Tate Modern, Tate Britain, and Westminster Abbey on my own and savored the moments spent in each.

The Tate Modern: My first stop was the Tate Modern which I was instantly intrigued to visit after walking past it on one of my London Alive tours. The gallery was established in 2000, and the modern structure of the institution overall, was a fresh view in comparison to some of the older architecture that is a staple of a London visit. The Tate Modern holds art from across various mediums, dating from the 1900's on.

Collection displays can be found on the 3rd and the 5th floor and are part of the institutions permanent exhibits. The 3rd level includes displayed collections entitled "Material Gestures" and "Poetry and Dream." Here, I found paintings and sculptures dating back to the 1940's and 1950's, including works by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. I found myself most interested in the "Poetry and Dream" collection, specifically the work by Francis Bacon entitled "Three Studies for Figures at the Base of Crucifixion" which displays images of half-human, half-animal beings that appear taunted by something in front of them. Here is a close-up of one of them. All interpretations are welcome as I don't know entirely what to think of the below.

(photo taken from:

I also enjoyed paying a small fee to view the traveling exhibit located on the 4th floor of the gallery. This exhibit is entitled "Street and Studio" and includes 350 photos and portraits from all over the world. One of my favorites rooms in this exhibit, was room number 7, which displayed works by Walker Evans, who discretely hid a camera and photographed passengers on a New York subway.

Tate Britain: The Tate Britain's origins date back to 1897 and was originally called the National Gallery of British Art. The gallery was made officially responsible for the national collection in 1917, responsible for international modern art and British art dating back to the 1500's.

I wasn't able to view all of the collections as my feet at this point were calling me to take a rest, but I did have the opportunity to view "The Lure of the East" which focuses on the influence of the orient on British fashion, art, cultures, and ideals. I toured this exhibit with a headset. This allowed me to visit each piece and listen to the background and history of the painting. One of my favorite pieces was a portrait of Colonel T.E. Lawrence, by Augustus John. This image below is the portrait I saw and is the influence of the classic "Lawrence of Arabia."

(photo taken from:

Westminster Abbey: Amazingly, Westminster Abbey has been the coronation church of kings and queens since 1066 and holds 17 monarchs. The overall Gothic architecture is enchanting and any visitor feels a sense of majesty wandering through each part of the Abbey.

Here again I was guided by a headset which served of a knowledgeable companion throughout the tour. There are a total of 3,300 people buried at Westminster Abbey to include about 600 monuments and memorial statues. Those buried here include tombs of kings and queens as well as famous writers, who can be found in the Poets' Corner.
The Poets' Corner is located in the South Transept section of the Abbey. Here, a visitor can see commemoration to poets, playwrights, and writers. Lord Byron is given memorial in this section as well as Shakespeare.

Finally, I ended my tour in a wooden pew listening to a choir practice. After seeing such greatness on the tour, this part of my visit allowed me a moment to sit and take in what I had just seen.

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