The winter months can feel a little dull, dark and heavy. The solution? Seek out joy in all its glorious forms. And one of them is, undoubtedly, the capital’s world-renowned galleries. Often magnificent buildings in their own rights, these free public spaces are a wonderful source of hope, healing and inspiration. Ready to soothe those seasonal blues? Here are seven reasons to visit Tate Modern and Tate Britain this winter.
1. Slow down and feel the feels
With so many incredible works on show it can be tempting to rush round a gallery, trying to take in as much as possible – but don’t. Curators and critics advocate the experience can be enhanced through “slow looking” (when you take your time to get to know a single piece of artwork in detail). Next time you’re drawn to a particular work, try sitting with it; close your eyes for two minutes, clear your mind, and then take in all of its details, rather than rushing on to the next. Not sure where to start? John Constable’s immersive Hampstead Heath with a Rainbow, housed in Tate Britain, is a brilliant candidate. Chances are a whole narrative will evolve in your head as your brain sheds its preconceived ideas, absorbing details you’d miss at a glance.
2. Late-night views
Both Tate Modern and Tate Britain host “lates”, where the galleries are open from 6pm until 10pm, and the existing sensory experience is enhanced with food, drink, music and performance. In February, Late at Tate Modern will be inspired by Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind – a new exhibition celebrating seven decades of groundbreaking work by the Japanese artistic legend, including her years in London, from 1966 to 1971, where she met her late husband, John Lennon. You can also view the exhibition by daylight at Tate Modern from 15 February to 1 September.
3. Enjoy El Anatsui’s monumental installation
Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall has inspired some of the world’s most iconic works of contemporary art and helped revolutionise public perceptions of culture in the 21st century. Soaring 115 feet with light flooding through 524 glass panes, the space would be awe-inspiring even if it was empty. Until 14 April, however, it is home to Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui’s monumental installation, which is entirely free to view. Made of thousands of metal bottle tops and fragments, Behind the Red Moon received a rave review from the Observer’s art critic Laura Cumming, who explained: “Anatsui transforms the Turbine Hall into a ship in full sail, carrying such a burden of history so lightly in its glimmering fabric.”
4. Ten-minute Tate talks
Sometimes visiting an art gallery can feel bewildering as you find yourself squinting at the title card, then staring at the canvas, and asking yourself existential questions such as: “But what does it all mean?” At Tate Modern and Tate Britain, free bite-size 10-minute talks take place every day, and everyone is welcome – no prior art knowledge is needed. Here, Tate staff and volunteers share insights into artworks – sometimes telling you more about the artist and their process, sometimes sharing their personal reflections on an artwork that might help you look at things a bit differently. Have a little longer to spare? Then free 45-minute tours of both Tate Modern and Tate Britain start most days at 12pm, 1pm and 2pm.
5. Be an exhibitionist
While the main collections house works you can come back to time and time again, Tate’s roster of exhibitions offer a chance to experience something new. In addition to the upcoming Yoko Ono show, other current must-sees include Women in Revolt! at Tate Britain (until 7 April) and Capturing the Moment at Tate Modern (until 28 April). Women in Revolt! is a wide-ranging exploration of feminist art by more than 100 artists working in the UK, delving into pivotal issues for women in the 1970s and 80s, such as reproductive rights, equal pay and race equality. Meanwhile, Capturing the Moment explores how modern painters and photographers have worked alongside one another in the 21st century and showcases the work of 39 artists including Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, and Andy Warhol. Whichever you go to, don’t forget to pick up postcards of your favourite pieces in the gift shop on the way out.
A world of unlimited art
Enjoy unlimited free entry to every Tate exhibition at all its UK galleries, with no need to book, as a Tate Member.
Find out more about Tate membership at tate.org.uk/join-support/tate-members
6. Stretch your body – and your mind
Recent research has shown that art has an immediate and positive impact on the human brain. But this winter, there’s a chance to experience its interplay with the body, too, as Tate Modern is hosting yoga workshops in collaboration with Frame fitness studio on Saturday mornings (find upcoming dates and book here). First, perfect your downward dog. Then, wander off to look at the walls and see if your blissed-out yoga state deepens your experience.
7. Inspire tiny minds
It’s never too early to introduce children to art, and Tate galleries happen to be some of the most child-friendly spaces in London. Tate Draw gives young art enthusiasts the chance to see their artworks on the wall of Tate Britain (via digital sketchpads), while its Story Space offers a place for tots to read, imagine and create. Meanwhile, the Uniqlo Tate Play space at Tate Modern offers family fun every weekend and activities for under-fives on Wednesdays from 10.30am to 3pm; head there during the February half-term to catch Make Studio Rhythm and create your own sound art. And when your tiny temperamental artists tire, you’re never far from a refuelling stop as both galleries have in-house cafes. Fun for all the family, indeed.
Banish the winter blues and boost your wellness with a visit to a Tate gallery. Entry is free, and there’s no need to book. Start planning your visit at tate.org.uk/visit
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