London art for babies: the Tate Modern

October 24, 2012

Turbine Hall, Tate ModernWhen it comes to London’s art galleries and museums, the Tate Modern is right up there with my favourites.  Last time we went I was 37 weeks pregnant – which seems about three lifetimes away now – so when Nick and I were planning to meet up on a Saturday, we thought it was a good place to go with Eliza.

The Turbine Hall at the Tate currently has a Tino Sehgal exhibition, if that’s even the right word, which consists of  live, choreographed encounters between people, using noise and light. When we arrived it was dark and the giant lights were flashing, and there was a big group of people doing a slow step up and down the main floor. We watched from upstairs – trying to work out if it was some kind of un-dead uprising or a Thriller flashmob – and then went downstairs and walked around the group. It was interesting; a lot more complicated and less immediately obvious than the crack, the slides, the seeds, or the sun. Coincidentally, it actually was International Zombie Day; we ran into a group of people dressed up as we left.

As it was Saturday and fairly busy we stayed away from the main Tate Modern galleries, but we did take a look around the Tanks, the new / old section attached to the main hall that has been built out of the power station oil tanks (it’s pretty industrial, to say the least).

There were several different exhibitions including Lis Rhodes’ Light Music, and a room of Sung Hwan Kim projections. All of them consisted of darkened rooms, video projections, flashing lights and muffled and distorted sounds. Nick and I were weirded out by a lot of it, as it seemed like something from either Twin Peaks or a pretty terrifying nightmare. However Eliza was open-mouthed in silent wonder (light and dark, flickering lights? A red room? Muffled sounds? Must have been a lot like being in the womb). Andy Warhol at Dulwich Picture Gallery was so bright and visual, but a lot of this was like a big old baby sensory room with added ambient noise.

Reading London with a Toddler, is seems there’s a whole children’s section upstairs in the Tate Modern that I had no idea about. Undoubtedly Eliza is too young at the moment, but considering the rapid rate at which time is passing, it won’t be that long.

I do love the Tate Modern; it does a lot to make art accessible for all, both figuratively and literally (the main entrance to the Turbine Hall is like a giant pushchair ramp). Anyway I reckon we’ll be back pretty soon on a less busy weekday, especially as it’s such an easy trip on public transport (short train ride to London Bridge, short walk). What other art galleries are so child-friendly, visual for such young babies yet not mind-numbingly dull for parents as the Tate Modern, I wonder?

Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern

16 Comments

  • Kate

    October 24, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Thanks for the shout out :D. We must have been there the same day!
    Enjoy the time before your baby needs kids’ areas….it’s blissful 🙂

    1. gillian

      October 28, 2012 at 9:24 pm

      We must have been! And so true – I’ll try and make the most of it 🙂

  • shirley

    October 26, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Yr lucky having so much art around you living in london and the Tate ideal for babies+prams

    1. gillian

      October 28, 2012 at 9:25 pm

      I know, so lucky! And there’s so many more museums and galleries that we can go to when she’s older (like to see the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum!)

  • Emma

    October 27, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    I love the Tate, it’s just the most fantastic Gallery! Great post, and great blog! (even if it does make me a little homesick!) 😀

    1. gillian

      October 28, 2012 at 9:26 pm

      Thank you! 🙂 Just keep thinking about the terrible weather in the UK (might help to make you feel less homesick?!)

  • LauraCYMFT

    November 6, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Thanks for linking this post up to Britmums carnival. Sounds like a really fun day and so nice to revisit after having your little one. Museums and exhibitions are great days out and give you so many things to talk about with kids.

  • Coombemill – Fiona

    November 6, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    My sister is one of the live models in the Tate Modern and we all went to see her back in the summer. I have to say, we had a fun afternoon there but none of us really “got it” , I think we must be missing something in the artistic genes, too much time spent on the farm!

    1. gillian

      November 6, 2012 at 9:27 pm

      That must be brilliant – what a fun job! A lot of the art we saw that day was just downright weird. I’m pretty sure with a lot of art, people don’t really get it (but pretend to!)

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