Thursday, 29 April 2010

Tate Modern/Bankside Power Station, London

Tate Modern is an art gallery with many pieces of modern art in the Bankside area of Southwark. However, the building that currently houses it has not always been an art gallery. It was originally built as Bankside Power Station and designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who also designed the red telephone boxes and Battersea Power Station further upstream. Much of the interior has obviously been done up, although some of the beams and girders which support the building are still visible in parts of the building. Another feature added since it's conversion to an art gallery is the glass addition to the top of the building which I believe houses 1-2 floors.

The gallery itself is home to a large collection of modern art, with some exhibitions running for a limited time only. Now admittedly, my knowledge of modern art is lacking in some departments, since my interest of this period lies in modern architecture, though the both are naturally intertwinned. If you're unfamiliar with modern art, you'd fare well reading up a little before you go along to appreciate it - I was a little lost with my relatively basic knowledge! However, what I did see and understand I did enjoy! There's no shying away from saying that modern art isn't for everyone, but if this is your cup-of-tea, then the Tate Modern is definitely worth a visit! ...the building aside!

More information on the building can be found on Wikipedia and about the gallery on the Tate Modern website.

Get there: Free entry - £3 recommended. Southwark (LU), or Mansion House (LU) via a walk across the Millenium Bridge. Why not start your visit at Southwark (LU), visit the Tate Modern, and walk across the Thames on the Millenium Bridge and up Peters Hill to St. Pauls Cathedral and Temple Bar. Or alternatively, stay on the South Bank and walk east past the Globe and towards HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Three Mills, Bromley-by-Bow, London

Notice the new banner at the top? Many thanks-you's to my sister who worked on it! =)

In the East End of London, lies the picturesque "Three Mills". Formerly a tidal mill, the various buildings are used for education, business and as film studios. House Mill (the main building on the left) was built in 1776 whilst Clock Mill (the white clock-tower building) was completed in 1817. The waterwheels are no longer in operation but between the 7 wheels to power 14 pairs of millstones to grind barley and maize. The mills were also used to distill Gin at one point.

Get there: Bromley-by-Bow (LU) station.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Pitzhanger-Manor House & Gallery in Ealing, London

It's been a while since I wrote anything - I've been far, far too busy with work, and even busier with travelling and exploring the streets and roads of London recently. So for you today is some Travel-Log-Awesomeness for you today - this will be a joint entry with my sister's blog (she's working on her entry atm.). We visited Pitzmanor-Manor House in Ealing back in February, which is a long time ago, I know. The gallery section is used for art exhibitions (at the time of visiting, there was one on knitting/sewing) and the rest of the building is used for events such as weddings.

Pitzhanger-Manor House in Ealing is a building that has been altered a number of times since being built in the 17th century. It's most famous owner was Sir John Soane (1753-1837), an architect. He enrolled into the Royal Academy in 1771, and designed a triumphal bridge, which won him a gold medal and a travelling scholarship. He used this to travel to Italy, which impressed him greatly. Back in Britain, he bought Pitzhanger-Manor in 1800, and demolished and refuilt most of it (except the South Wing of the building). It was rebuilt into a country villa to entertain friends and clients.

The building today is made up of roughly 3 parts - the far left is the oldest surviving part of the house, designed by George Dance the Younger for Thomas Gurnell (who would become his father in law) in 1768. Soane was an apprentice of Dance, and he kept this part, the South Wing as he admired his work. The middle central bit was Soane's work, and the extension on the right is slightly newer and built in 1940 to replace an earlier extension designed by Ealing Council in 1901. Today, this room is now used as part of the gallery space.

After Soane, the grounds and house passed through a number of owners before being purchased by Sir Spencer Walpole. The grounds, as you see in the picture below, were converted into Walpole Park in 1901 when Ealing District Council acquired them. The house itself was converted into a library the following year. The library moved to the Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre not far away in 1984 and this house was restored and opened to the public.

The pretty staircase features a bust and other items of interest:

This is one of the most beautiful room I've seen around:

And it's very lush ceiling:

I didn't find the other rooms as pretty but were still interesting nonetheless. Worthy of noting is the ceiling feature in one of the rooms which I can only assume imitates what the Pantheon in Rome has - the hole in the top. The rooms also seem to have some kind of classical influence - i.e. the trellis and plant poking through it, and also the zig-zags in the room with the sky-view.

Get there: Ealing Broadway station, short 5-minute walk towards Walpole Park.