Thames Path: Stage 2 – Waterloo to Mortlake

This morning I caught a bus to Waterloo Bridge and picked up on the Thames Path where I left off on Monday. Early on a Sunday and the only people about apart from me were cleaners, a few joggers, and an artist in the under passages of the Southbank.

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I stayed on the south side of the river the whole way, delighting in the fact that the many diversions that had been in place for years no longer are. One small one has cropped up around the MI6 building at Vauxhall while they rebuild some of the old office blocks there and the slipway. It’s a minor diversion. The other is the remaining one in Nine Elms where work continues on the old Battersea Power Station. It makes such a difference to be able to walk along the river side rather than divert through building works.

This stretch took me past many of London’s key sights – Parliament (clad in scaffolding for long needed restoration work), Lambeth Palace, the London Eye, and the Tate (across the other side of the river). Also past and partially through the still being build Nine Elms area – the architecture is a mix of plain and the quite interesting. Despite the lack of new affordable housing in the area, the rejuvenation will bring a bit of life to the older parts, too.

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Low tide and highly reflective water along the river today. 

The path goes through a few large parks – Battersea with its pagoda, and Wandsworth where people played cricket. Past Putney and into Barnes the path goes into forest and wetlands. Here quite a few people were enjoying the warm sunshine by riding their bikes, or walking, or running. One little thing that irked – three groups of runners had loud music pumping out from backpacks.

Like with Monday, I decided to only walk for half the day. I had lunch at the Ship, a Greene King pub, in Mortlake and then headed to the station for  train back to central London.

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According to my FitBit, I walked nearly 21km (a bit over 13 miles) in about three hours and fifty minutes (not including my lunch break). The map above is from my FitBit app.

Modigliani at the Tate Modern

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View of the Shard from the Tate Modern, February 2018.

On Friday last week I had one of those fab unexpected moments. A friend, who I hadn’t seen for a ridiculously long time because we both have fairly busy working lives, contacted me to see if I was interested in going to see the Modigliani exhibition at the Tate Modern. I was, had no other commitments.

After a bracing walk along the Thames south bank we decided to just head to the Tate Modern. It was with a bit of a jolt that I realised I hadn’t been there for such a long time – when they first opened up the new tank part of the extension. My friend took me up to the observation deck and we watched as the grey twilight crept over the London skyline. We didn’t stay long because of the icy winds, but I will most definitely be making my way up there again for the astonishing views of London. Tip for tourists on a budget: the Tate Modern is free (but donations are always welcome).

We then decided to dine at the restaurant, which was surprisingly good and reasonably priced. Not cheap, but given the quality of the food and matched wines (if you choose that option) really quite incredible for a restaurant in an art gallery. We also had friendly and attentive service; very human. Highly recommended, although if you’re a Tate member your discount doesn’t apply there. We took the time to catch up properly.

We then headed down to the exhibition.

I remember my father liking Modigliani’s art, but I must say that I knew very little about his work. I knew he painted a lot of portraits of men and women with elongated faces, and a lot of nude women.

The exhibition features Modigliani’s work mostly from when he was in Paris in 1906 when he was 21 years old. A lot of the paintings dated from the Great War years and yet covers a fair range of his styles. Modigliani died young, in January 1920, so his output is really quite astonishing. He also only ever had one solo exhibition during his lifetime.

I was fascinated by how he managed to capture moments of expression in many of his portraits. Little glimpses into human behaviour in otherwise quite sparse portraits in terms of detail. He used a few of the same models and the exhibition groups a few of these together, along with photographs of the models, and that enabled comparisons.

There was a room devoted to some of his sculptures, which were interesting in that they showed his influences – Cycladic, south-east Asian, and perhaps the giant heads from Easter Island – but otherwise left me cold. I found his paintings to be generally warmer and more human.

I liked that the exhibition opened and closed with self-portraits that captured the changes in him physically and in terms of his standing as an artist and man in just a few short years.

The exhibition runs until 2 April 2018.