The first day – from Brixton Tate Library, to Tate Britain, the Archives, and a boat trip to Tate Modern to see Miró
We arranged to meet for the first time on Saturday 14 May, at Brixton Tate Library. Everyone introduced themselves, and we took a group portrait under the bust of Henry Tate, which stands outside the library in Windrush Square and lends its name to this blog. We decided that whenever we came across a portait of Henry we’d take a group picture.
Then we headed by tube to Tate Britain, where we looked at artworks from Henry Tate’s original collection that hang in the gallery today. Works from his initial bequeathal are listed here on the Tate website – if you scroll down you’re able to see which works are currently on display in the Galleries.
We also had an introduction from Sarah Den Dikken about the many gifts and bequests within the Tate’s collection, which sparked an initial discussion between us about contemporary philanthropy.
…From there we had an introduction to the Tate Library and Archive from Krystof Cieszkowski, and looked over some of Tate’s original bequeathal documents, along with letters and portraits in the archive collections.
A group portrait with Henry …And from there we took a boat down the Thames to the Tate Modern, to see the Miró exhibition.
“It was interesting being in the archives of the Tate. Seeing how the place evolved over the centuries. It used to be a swamp near the Thames and then became a sort of model prison in Millbank. Not successful, Millbank Prison was described as an architectural disaster with long corridors, fairly damp. Prisoners were put into irons here and taken out to the Thames to be transported to Australia. We were lucky, we travelled between Tate and Tate by Thames Clipper.”
And finally, up to the top of Tate Modern
where we reflected on the day with a back-drop view over London.
“This is one of the best things about Tate Modern – the view from the top, across to St. Paul’s Cathedral. It rivals a painting, the way your eye is drawn across the river by the Millenium Bridge to the city of London. St. Paul’s always looks a sort of cheerful building and its architect, Christopher Wren’s grave has an inscription saying “If you seek his monument, look around you”. You could apply that to Henry Tate when you look at the libraries and galleries he sponsored.”