My First Art Gallery: The Tate Modern, London

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For all lovers of art, the Tate Modern in London is a staple go-to when you’re looking to get your creative fix, be filled with inspiration, and have a fun day out. This is my first art gallery visit I can recall, and it’s one I’m sure I will never forget. Being from a small seaside town, trips to London were always exciting when I was growing up, as I’m sure it is for many others living outside the capital. From the train journey up there, the packed lunches, and even bringing along a sketchbook to draw our favourite paintings/exhibits, the Tate always made for great family days out.

My first experience of The Tate was The Unilever Series: Carsten Höller: Test Site exhibition. Otherwise known as ‘the slide exhibit’, as I often tell people, who then wonder why the Tate had slides as art (which I myself question). According to Höller, slides are an artform from both the perspective of watching people slide and being inside experiencing the thrill of sliding yourself. As described on the Tate’s website, the “visual spectacle” of watching, and “the state of simultaneous delight and anxiety as you descend” for those sliding. As a six year old, this goal was certainly achieved, as I remember quickly running up and down the four or five flights of stairs to go down the slides again.

The exhibition was placed in the Turbine Hall, the space by the entrance which often features a regularly changing art display/visual spectacle. It ran from October 2006 to April 2007, and it was labelled a ‘test site’ as Höller had hopes of slides being introduced to cities such as London as a permanent feature. This was to add a daily dose of delight to city-dweller’s lives, and a larger dream that regular sliding may change people’s perceptions of the world. Although at present I’m unaware of any cities adopting Höller’s dream, maybe this is something we can look to in the future – as a recent member of the no-longer-a-teen club, I can certainly vouch for this in adult life.

Aside from Höller’s exciting slide installation, the Tate Modern has offered up a range of wonderful and diverse exhibitions throughout the years. Just last year, they had the Nam June Park exhibition (October 2019 to February 2020), which focussed on Paik’s experimental and innovative work with media and technology. It was described as a “riot of sights and sounds” by the Tate, and a personal favourite aspect of the exhibition was the chance to see yourself in the art – you could see an outline of yourself in thermal colours on a television.

From its amazing location, on the bank of the Thames and just up from Shakespeare’s Globe, to its creative and inspiring displays, the Tate Modern is the perfect gallery to visit for anyone seeking a wide range of exhibitions. As students, we can also get the Student Art Pass, which means you can enjoy both the free exhibitions (the majority are at the Tate) and the paid one’s for a lot cheaper. Whether you live in London and want to get your creativity flowing, or you’re from outside the capital and want an art-filled day out, the Tate Modern is the place to go.

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