Serpentine Sackler Gallery

Last Saturday was awful weather in Cheltenham (as forecast).  I had doused the car several times before I got to Andoversford.  Lots of surface water, I slowed down, considered aborting the trip but decided to continue.

Gradually the rain became less heavy and visibility improved as did my spirits.  By the time I arrived at John Lewis at Wycombe the rain had stopped and sustenance was called for, a coffee and Brownie did the trick.  Because the West Carriage Drive was down to one lane in one direction (North to South) I adapted my route and approached from Notting Hill and the Edgeware Road through the park.  To my glee I had anticipated correctly that this closure would make parking just opposite the Serpentine Gallery less popular than normal and I parked easily. The payment machine and I had a contretemps but finally it made clear to me what was required and it worked beautifully!

I went in to see the exhibition, Michael Craig-Martin, Transience.  I loved it. I took several photos (legally) brought one of the artist’s books , checked to make sure the book signing was as anticipated and walked across the bridge over the Serpentine to the Serpentine Sackler Gallery which also houses The Magazine Restaurant, (West Carriage Drive, Kensington Gardens, London, W2 2AR, 0207 2587552), designed by Zaha Hadid, which I had not yet experienced.

The building drew me as if by a magnetic force.  Very modern, different, with lots of glass, unexpected forms in the architectural structure.

I was shown to a table but the waiter had lost me.  I discarded my outdoor clothing (it was fresh and dry) and sat down to take it in.   It is worth visiting, you have to see it.  I can’t describe it adequately.  Finally the waiter managed to break thorough into my reverie and pointed at the two menus he had given me!  I forced myself to concentrate and ordered.  French toast with grilled mushrooms and leaves, a ginger beer and a glass of water.  Then he left me in peace.

The bar was long, the furniture was modern and comfortable, the views of the outside were varied and interesting, but my eyes kept on coming back to the structure under which we all sat. Then quite suddenly my eyes were drawn to a large screen with constantly moving organic shapes that ‘melted’ then reformed, changed colour, changed shape constantly.  The screen was straight in front of me about 30 feet away, yet up till then I had not become aware of it.  The screen was vertical (?) say 3ft wide and 6ft tall.  It was captivating.

At this stage my food arrived.  It was appetising to look at and delicious, but I kept on being diverted from it by that screen, which also featured the time and date and apparently occasional news bulletins via a direct line to the web.

I had to extricate myself from the Zaha Hadid structure and the impactful piece of kinetic art.  The time had come for me to get my book signed and to make contact for just 2 or 3 minutes with Michael Craig Martin.  Which I hope will result in showing some of his work in the new gallery.

Task achieved now I must drive home to Cheltenham richer for the experiences of the day.

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