Are you finding, like us that so much of all our leisure time is still impacted by Covid? As a Tate Member I'm normally able to just turn-up and walk-in to exhibitions or the main collections. To keep numbers to a level where some distancing can be maintained, everyone including members have to book both for access to the main collections and for the special exhibitions. I'd been wanting to see the Yayoi Kusama exhibition for ages, but due to the size of the mirror rooms tickets have been very limited and I'd missed the first allocation. A second batch was released, and I managed to get a slot.
Yayoi Kusama exhibition
This is quite a small exhibition giving an amazing insight into her personal and artistic journey, her struggles with mental health including hallucinations, and most of all into her creativity.
Without a doubt the 2 mirrored rooms are the stars of the show. You are allowed in groups of 3/4 at a time for 2 minutes only in each. Although this sounds brief, it's enough to take it all in and lose yourself in the repetition of the forms.
The first room consists of a mirrored tile walkway, with the floor to the side of the walkway covered with water (you are warned about this before entering). Hanging from the ceiling are hundreds of small, round LED lights that flash on and off in different colour configurations. These lights in the otherwise darkened room appear to reflect endlessly in the mirrors and the water, giving the experience of being in a seemingly endless space. Hence the 'Infinity Room' title.
The second room is 'The Chandelier of Grief'. We entered the room via a sliding door and, once this closed behind us, reveals a mirrored environment in which a sole light source is a baroque-style chandelier suspended above head-height from the ceiling of the structure. Looking up and down at the many reflections is a very odd experience indeed.
I really enjoyed the photos of the exhibitions where performance artists had been placed in the rooms - it must have been pretty daring for the time.
On the spur of the moment I decided to book myself lunch at the kitchen and bar where they were offering a Kusama inspired set menu. The view over the Thames and across to St Paul's Cathedral is stunning, and the perfect place to sip a white port and tonic. The set menu is £25 for 2 courses or £32 for 3 courses. The dishes were both pretty, dainty and full of delicate flavours.
To start I had day boat mackerel tataki, with green chili relish. I thought that this was both visually and taste wise a fantastic piece of cooking.
For my main I had Yakitori pork shoulder, with pak choi, a sprinkling of sesame seeds and soba noodles on the side (not photographed).
There are other less expensive food options available, but this was lovely as a treat.
The EY Exhibition: The Making of Rodin
The Rodin exhibition gives a fascinating insight into the processes that Auguste Rodin employed in the making of his game-changing sculptures.
He so captured the imperfections of the human body, that the sculpture in the photo above was rumoured to be a cast rather than a sculpture and he had to prove that it was not.
I found it fascinating that Rodin did the plaster work himself, experimenting with repetition and fragmentation and joining parts together in unconventional ways, but that when it came to making them in marble it would be others in his studio who did that work.
One of the casts of the finished Burghers of Calais is to be found in London near the Houses of Parliament. So you could see the exhibition with the plaster cast and then see the bronze version all in the same day. Burghers of Calais
Do remember that even to see the free main collections you must book a entrance slot. There aren't any times restrictions on how long you can stay in the main collections.
The Yayoi Kusama exhibition runs until June 2022.
The Yayoi Kusama exhibition is fully booked until 24th October, more tickets will be released late September.
Tickets for Yayoi Kusama cost £10 per person/free to members.
The Rodin exhibition runs until 21st November 2021
Tickets for Rodin cost £18 per person/free to members
Annual single membership costs £84
Annual membership with a guest costs £124
Membership gives access to all of the Tate Galleries.
London SE1 9TG