An insider’s look at London
Since its opening in 2000, Tate Modern’s spectacular Turbine Hall exhibits and blockbuster shows have attracted 45 million visitors. Yet even in a place as popular as this, there remain overlooked spaces. Kyla curates one such space – the Level 2 Gallery. Sitting right next to the Thames-side entrance, this area is often missed by visitors marching straight through to the Turbine Hall. It’s dedicated to emerging international artists, giving the public a first chance to see the work that may one day hang in the hallowed confines of its permanent collection.
“This is a space for young artists to enter into a dialogue with the established names upstairs,” says Kyla, walking around the current exhibition – showcasing art from Morocco, Lebanon and Romania – and carefully watching how the visitors are reacting to the art. Even a small show like this takes six months to prepare.
Upstairs, on the fifth floor, is Kyla’s other favourite space – the Architecture and Power room. Its position, at the back of a room filled with Picassos and other big names, means it is doesn’t get the focus from visitors that the art here deserves. Highlights include a model of the Peruvian military headquarters in Lima, topped with a printer spurting out till receipts with live Google search results for the word ‘brutalist’. This search captures the past dictatorships of South America and references to architecture itself. “This room and Level 2 represent a shift away from the normal canon of Western art,” says Kyla. “It’s about trying to integrate a more global sense into Tate Modern and allow new voices to be heard.”
More cutting edge galleries
- Auto Italia south east: The best thing to hit Old Kent Road since Monopoly, Auto Italia hosts exhibitions, film screenings, gigs and talks. One of the best places to see new art.
- Raven Row: Specialises in digging out forgotten histories of art movements that never got the attention they deserved. Set in a former Huguenot silk merchant building.
The scrum for Olympic tickets left thousands empty handed, and others desperately trying to pretend that they’ve always loved dressage and clay pigeon shooting. Yet for those wanting to tap into the Olympic spirit even without a ticket, a visit to a small industrial island in Hackney Wick should be a priority.
“When the Games start, it’s going to be insane,” says Jess Seaton, co-proprietor of The Counter, a brick and steel diner filled with retro furniture and gleaming iMacs. “Already we can hear the intercom, and the floodlights shine straight in the windows. God knows what it’s going to be like when the crowds get here.”
The Counter overlooks the Lee Valley River, a ribbon of water snaking through the industrial heartlands of East London. Raise your eyes above the bank and you’re greeted with the sight of possibly the biggest construction site in the world – the Olympic Park. It’s so close that customers are in danger of being hit by a stray javelin.
“We didn’t plan this,” says Jess. “We’re not Olympic sellouts! Before we opened there was nothing here.” She’s not kidding. From the outside, Fish Island is little more than a ring of warehouses, shipping containers and lorries. “There’s only one road in here,” says Jess. “It’s a secret community. But all of those dull warehouses are packed with creative people. Hackney Wick has the highest concentration of art studios in the world.” The Counter’s superlative breakfasts and views have drawn people in from across the city. And now its prime Olympic location has put the area under a global spotlight.