The A-level Photography students visited Tate Modern on a crisp and sunny day, making the most of the walk from the National Gallery by taking photographs of some of London’s iconic buildings, as well the vibrant and bustling South Bank.
The Tate Modern has a new extension, Switch House, next to the iconic main building and so there is now twice as much artwork to see. Ours was a relatively fleeting visit, an hour and a half, but students made the most of looking at galleries, permanent exhibitions, and the 10th-floor viewing balcony with its breathtaking view of the capital.
The main purpose of this part of our trip to London was to see artwork in a gallery setting. How is the artist’s ‘final piece’ presented in the context of an exhibition. how do we react to it, contemplate it, think about it, and later discuss it? The week before our visit, students watched a documentary called ‘Bricks!’ about the minimalist artist Carl Andre and his conceptual work featuring a pile of bricks which caused great controversy when displayed at the Tate (now Tate Britain), in 1976. Times have moved on, but conceptual art can still lead to heated discussion and debate, and its medium is no longer just sculpture but can be seen in other art forms including photography. His piece using bricks, entitled ‘Equivalent VIII’ (because it was one of eight pieces) is now on display at the Tate Modern, and students were able to see it in a gallery setting and make up their own minds about it.
Being allowed to roam around all floors in both buildings meant students could stumble across work while looking for specific artworks, and this meant everyone had different experiences to report back on. Inspiration can be taken from anywhere, and nothing inspires more than seeing the unexpected, or studying a technique one hadn’t known existed. Everyone had something to say about their visit to the Tate Modern, and reports of the day were written up as soon as we returned to college.