Yesterday I went with a friend to see Anthony Gormley’s Blind Light at the Hayward Gallery. It was a wonderful show in beautiful surroundings. Sadly I was not allowed to take any photos inside the gallery but I do have a number from the outdoor terrace of some of Gormley’s works around London. You can play ‘Where’s Anthony’ over here

Firstly we saw Space Station which I wanted to climb all over. It is a block – or rather a series of blocks all soldered together – tilted on its side. It reminded me of nothing so much as one of those wooden block puzzles my friends and I adored as teenagers. After much peering through holes and standing on tippytoes to look at internal parts I still couldn’t see how it fit together or balanced. Impressive for an installation which apparently weighs 27 tons and for which the Hayward had to reinforce the floor! At first I couldn’t work out why it was named Space Station as it had a very organic (albeit geometric) vibe but sure enough, when seen from a certain angle it does have a ship-type feel.

After that we decided to join the queue for Blind Light. What an amazing experience! After being vetted by the gallery attendent for problems such as claustrophobia we slowly made our way inside. Essentially its a fairly small, glass box with loads of mist pumped into it. As an experience it was quite different. Up close, colours appeared vibrant and bold but even a step away things took on a definite haze. We worked out that the distance to invisibility was around 1 metre. It was interesting to stand silently and experience the world in a totally different way. Figures glided past (I swear I saw the ghost of a Jane Eyre type) or loomed suddenly out of nothing. Everywhere was noisy as people seemed to lose the typical social inhibitions. And without being able to see, sound takes on a strange quality. There’s no perspective and the nervous-sounding groups of adults merged in with the cackling of the hobgoblins the gallery had so thoughtfully provided to leap out on us (might have been children, hard to say really) leaving us with no real ability to discern distance or location.

Once outside we slowly dried off and took a look at some of the images on the walls. Gormley has an interesting take on the body and a very clever way of making something look like something else. Hence we hotly debated whether one image of part of a fingerprint (I think) looked more like an underground cavern with a lake or a canal tunnel. Jury is still out I think. After that we had a wonder in Allotment which is (for me) a vast forest of silent people. For my friend it was a maze of coffins. Its interesting how our individual experience shapes our perception of things – for me it was a friendly place composed of beautiful wood and friendly figures. It reminded me a little of the Terracotta Warriors which I saw as a child. Another example of individual perspective having a strong influence was when I dragged my 6’2″ friend down to my level. From where he was he was level with the ‘heads’ and thus could see more than I who was just under the ‘shoulders’. Sadly I was not able to levitate to experience things the other way.

Upstairs there was plenty more to see and looooong queues for some of the exhibits which we didn’t have the patience to bear. One sculpture consisted mainly of long spars of metal all directed at and shaping an inner core. And its an interesting insight into the way the mind works that we could instantly recognise the inner core as a human body. This was a piece I really enjoyed and the spars reminded me of nothing so much as rays of light. This is after all the way we see and I thought this was a very clever depiction. I was less impressed with a similar exhibit where bodies were again used as the core of large sculptures composed of metal cores – not so much because of the pieces themselves but because the light shining on the metal was rather sharp and uncomfortable for me. I have synaesthesia and the thin, sharp light reminds me of sounds which I don’t particularly like.

We also had a good look from the terraces to see the casts which Gormley had placed around London. I have loads of photos which I shall post to my picasa account in due course. :o)

How could you top an evening like that? Well you go to see Harry Potter 5 at the nearby IMAX. As if HP is not enough excitement this was my first trip to an IMAX. I feel there are going to be many, many trips back as the whole experience knocked my socks off! I kept flinching as spells flew straight towards me and wanting to move back as Lucius Malfoy kept invading my personal space. Bloody Slitherins, no manners. Only the last 20 minutes of the film were created in IMAX film but we did see trailers for some of the full-length features they did. I was blown away by the underwater film/animation and had to restrain myself from reaching out to touch a turtle. Having said that, the dinosaurs animation just gave me the heebie-jeebies and there’s no way I’m going to see that one!

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