It was a large room, full of people, all kinds

Marking, I think, the first time I’ve headed an entry with a line from Laurie Anderson. Anyway: yesterday, a jolly wander around Londinium. Failed to find any streets paved with gold (drat!), but did finally see the Great Court at the British Museum, which I found most stunning for the acoustics as much as the visuals. As you enter, the background flaffing of your fellow visitors curiously drops to a distant low burble. Somehow the high frequencies are attenuated, but the effect is one of the space opening audibly rather than merely visibly. Quite astonishing, not to mention beautiful.

Over the not-wobbly bridge to Tate Modern, and I regret to report not having had the prescribed ‘woah that’s huge!’ response to the Turbine Hall. I think because I’m unexpectedly a connoisseur of large unobstructed covered spaces, having previously visited:

  1. The turbine hall of a hydro-electric power station in Scotland, the name of which currently escapes me.
  2. The DELPHI hall at CERN, which is roughly the size of a cathedral only 100m underground.
  3. The Millennium Dome central space.
  4. A submarine construction shed at Birkenhead.
  5. The R100/R101 airship hangers at Cardington, purported to be the largest unobstructed covered space in Europe.

These last two are, I believe, the only places in the country one can fly hot air balloons indoors. One might be able to at Tate Modern, but it looks a bit narrow to my eye.


However, the current installation in the Turbine Hall, Rachel Whiteread’s ‘Embankment,’ I rather liked. Mechanically, it’s just 14,000 polypropylene boxes stacked up. But there’s something rather charming about the arrangement, scale, and sheer lunacy of the endeavour. The majority of people exploring the space sported a dopey sort of half grin, which struck me as a result for the artist even if the audience is self-selecting.

Then there were fireworks care of the Lord Mayor, movies, and… ah, a day as a tourist in London. Champion.

3 thoughts on “It was a large room, full of people, all kinds”

  1. Mrs Nature’s got some pretty big spaces too. I stood under a waterfall twice the height of Niagara Falls – in Yorkshire. In a space big enough to build Westminster Abbey and still have room for parking.

  2. Darn, I happened to be wandering around the Tate Modern on Saturday too, but alas, I didn’t think to look for you. I’ll keep an eye out next time…

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