Saturday 19 July 2014

A disappointment and a delight

I thought I would have a break from posting on Amsterdam, (which we visited at the end of June), and on Greece (which is where we are at present) and write about a day we spent in London in July.

The purpose of the visit was to go to The Serpentine Gallery to see Marina Abramovic. When we got there however, we found out to our great disappointment that the gallery was closed on that day. We wandered around Kensington Gardens instead, and had lunch at The Magazine, Zaha Hadid's new extension of the Serpentine, and that was the delight.

It was a gorgeous, sunny day, so wandering around the park was lovely.

We particularly enjoyed the Italian Garden


and its fountains

but also the reflections in the Round Pond.


This white arch looked familiar, we had seen one like it at Compton Verney so we assumed that it's by Henry Moore.


First stop, the Serpentine, but it was closed for two days, lots of scaffolding, so no point in taking a photograph


Next, we crossed the bridge, and arrived at the Serpentine Sackler gallery, the 1805 brick gunpowder storage building on the right, and the new linked pavilion designed by Zaha Hadid on the left.

The elegant roof is made from PTFE-coated glass-fibre woven fabric, its super-smooth moulded look a complete contrast to the brickwork of the 19th century building
It's a wondrous place - there is a lightness to the whole building as if it's about to float away
the brick of the old building is in contrast to the smoothness of the new, but they complement each other beautifully

as do the sculpted columns with their smooth moulded surface

but the wonder is seeing the columns as you walk in - it's like liquid light pouring down from the ceiling on to the floor

it is truly awesome

Some of the critics have been really scathing about the extension, and I really cannot understand it.


Being in there was a real experience: it's light (some critics said they found it dark!), airy, architecturally interesting,

but even if it was none of the above, just that light pouring in, is enough - it's stunning

flowing, organic forms


looking out

flowers on the tables in Alvar Aalto vases.


Finally, the washrooms are cutting edge as well - hot air came out of the Dyson taps after we had washed our hands.


  1. Coincidental posting! We are off to the Serpentine Pavilion tomorrow morning. I shall not be going to see Marina Abramovic - I enjoy reading about her work, but personally HATE the idea of audience participation. The Zaha Hadid looks absolutely stunning, however, and I look forward to seeing that. Love the loos! I always think it is a sign of true thoroughness of design when it reaches the loos - my favourites until now were those in the Zamana Gallery designed by Hugh Casson (it used to be part of the Ismaili Centre - opposite the V&A on Cromwell Road - but closed at the start of the first war with Iraq), and the Imperial Museum in the North in Salford, designed by Daniel Liebeskind.

    1. Coincidental indeed. I hope I haven't spoiled it for you, as it's good to see things with fresh eyes. Would love to know how you felt about it. Do you like Japanese food? This is what they serve, but also do tea/coffee and cakes.

      Abranovic - I hate audience participation too, but thought I might be able to avoid having to participate given that there would be another 158 people there. Having said that, I would have loved to have been at the MOMA where it was one to one - people's reactions sounded amazing. I have wanted to see her for a long time. Just missed her in Athens in March, and now this. I should have rang the gallery before going, but I had rang a few days before that, when there was another missed opportunity. But, I am rambling on....

      Must go to Salford - love Liebskind's work with a passion.

      Have a great day in London.