Wednesday, 27 August 2014


I walked across a sun-drenched Hyde Park one morning anticipating not one, but two treats. It didn't quite turn out like that.

The first sign that something was wrong was a queue spread along the railings approaching the Serpentine Gallery. A long and patient queue, hoping to take part in Marina Abramovic's performance art 512 Hours, specially created for the Serpentine Gallery. Her only materials are herself, a few simple props and visitors who become the performing body, participating in what has been described as 'an exceptional moment in the history of performance art'.

 Over 100,000 people attended in the 11-week run and sadly I wasn't one of them.The queue was shuffling forward very slowly. I couldn't wait.

A few yards away across the lawn of Kensington Gardens is this year's Serpentine Pavilion designed by Smiljan Radic. It's a translucent pod of glass-reinforced plastic, poised on top of large sandstone boulders.  One reviewer called it “a collision between an extraterrestrial egg and a Neolithic burial site.” 

These are the reasons why I draw a blank from time to  time:
  • I only write about work which I find beautiful or mysterious or challenging or tantalising or breath-taking or astonishing or life-affirming. So sometimes I walk away empty handed.
  • I fail to check on gallery opening times - they are idiosyncratic
  • I have checked opening times but when I arrive I can see through a glass door the morning's post languishing on the mat because no one has turned up yet.
  • I go to the wrong address, foolishly thinking that the Frith St Gallery will be in Frith St, not Golden Square.
  •  It takes too long to get there. Pedestrians face huge diversions while London puts up prestigious buildings, puts down underground railways or is running the Olympics/a cycle race/a marathon/the Changing of the Guard. The results are barriers and re-routing and over-crowded pavements.
  • I fail to get an image. Mostly - but not always - I get a  prompt and positive response when I ask for an image for free. If asked for money I refuse, and as I do not write text without pictures, that is the end of the matter.  My blog is a money-free zone in which I pay/receive no money.
  • I sometimes turn up and find a closed gallery. Usually there's a private function. I forgive the Saatchi Gallery for doing this  occasionally because their gallery is so user-friendly and their b/w catalogue so cheap and informative.

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