Art on the Southbank & Kate Walsh

We had an arty evening yesterday. I finished work around 4pm and met Keryn outside Embankment station. Having found each other we made our way to the Southbank and found the entrance for the Hayward Gallery. For the next few months the Hayward is displaying work commissioned from Antony Gormley, the man who created the Angel of the North. The exhibition is titled Blind Light and the name comes from one of the installations in the gallery.

The Hayward Gallery, spot the little man at the top right on the building.
The Hayward Gallery, spot the little man at the top left on the building

So we paid our entry fee and stowed out bags in the coat check and then entered the gallery. There were all sorts of installations to experience (look at, touch, peer into) but the most memorable was the Blind Light installation. At a basic level it is just a big room with glass walls and one door. Inside there are a number of units that generate mist. The room is filled with mist with visibility down to about two feet. Up to 25 people are allowed into the room at a time and wander around experiencing total white-out. It was very disconcerting, after a few steps there is no longer any sense of distance or space, people walk around and while you can hear them you don’t really know where they are until you’re right next to them. Standing in the middle you can look up and see nothing but white, down and you can’t see your feet and all around is more whiteness with the occasional darker patch that is a person making their way around. From the outside you look in to the whiteness and watch for shapes, people appearing and disappearing, fading away. Hands will suddenly appear reaching out for the a surface that the person knows but doesn’t know is there. After a short/long time wandering the mist we found the door and emerged in a waft of mist to the normal world once more. Both of use had a light coating of water all over, creating spider patterns in Keryn’s hair and appearing as a halo of bright dots on my shorter cut. It was very relaxing, if perplexing.

The other major installation consists of 31 cast bodies standing on the London horizon and visible from the three viewing galleries at the Hayward. Titled Event Horizon it brings a bit of mystery to the view and once you’ve seen one of the still bodies in the distance you quickly start looking for them all. Only one is actually approachable, a silent man standing on the Waterloo Bridge. I guess people walking from work are used to him now as there was a complete lack of interest from most passers by.

We spent about an hour at the Hayward looking at the various works, leaving as the days closure was announced. We then walked over the road to the National Theatre to have a closer look at another piece of art called FlyTower conceived by Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey. The artists, who have covered a number of different objects and buildings in grass, have planted two sides of the Lyttelton Theatre’s fly tower in a carpet of grass that will grow and then wither away. One of Antony Gormley’s Event Horizon men also sits on top of the tower.

The FlyTower.
The FlyTower

An Antony Gormley cast-man on the Waterloo Bridge.
An Antony Gormley cast-man on the Waterloo Bridge

Once I was done with photos we starting investigating where we could have some dinner. The Southbank restaurants were all very busy so we walked back into the city and headed for Covent Garden. We settled on Fire & Stone, a pizza restaurant we’ve been too a few times now. Once we’d eaten we turned our minds to the next event of the evening and headed in the direction of Regent Street, stopping off at the Ben & Jerry’s shop in Leicester Square to get some ice-cream. We passed through Piccadilly Circus and walked up Regent Street until we got to our destination, the Apple Store.

The nights entertainment was to be provided by Kate Walsh, a young singer based down in Brighton. Recently she shot to the top of the iTunes download chart and I think this lead to the Apple Store performance. I had got entry via the guest list, a prize for entering a mailing list competition. We had to line up for 20 minutes or so and then there was some confusion about who was on the list and who wasn’t but it wasn’t too long before we were inside and sitting in the front row waiting for the short performance to start.

Kate Walsh performing at the Regent Street Apple Store.
Kate Walsh performing at the Regent Street Apple Store

Kate Walsh performing at the Regent Street Apple Store.
Kate Walsh performing at the Regent Street Apple Store

Kate turned out to be a lovely young woman with a very nice voice. Most of her songs seemed to revolve around failed relationships but she seemed to always look at the positives. Kate was also quite funny with a number of amusing comments. We enjoyed the songs and had the bonus of each receiving a iTunes voucher for 10 songs just to cap it off. After the performance was over we exited and made our way to the tube to start the journey home. The return trip was uneventful.

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