Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 6: The Barbican, the Tate, and Nevermore

Tuesday started with quite a long tube ride (morning rush hour delays, apparently) to the Barbican in central London. The area on which the Barbican now sits was entirely bombed out in WWII; we're talking completely flattened. For some time, the City of London debated what to rebuild on the space. And, after a few decades of talking, planning, and building, it finally opened in the early 1980s. It has a sort of otherworldly feel to it, if you ask me; doesn't it look kind of futuristic, or post-apocalyptic, or alternate universe?

Within the Barbican is the Barbican Centre, the cultural heart of the area.

Inside of that is the Barbican Library, a really fantastic public library. I was able to enjoy a lovely tour of the Library and a tasty lunch at the Centre during my morning and early afternoon.

A new friend and I decided to use our free afternoon to take in the Tate Modern, a museum of modern art. Now, I'm not really a fan of modern art. At all. But, I figure that it would be ridiculous for a person who has been lucky enough to visit London as much as I have to never set foot in what everyone considers a must-see museum. So, I went. And, lo and behold, I still don't really like modern art. I did see a few things I really enjoyed: three Hiroshi Sugimoto cinema photographs (I wrote about this cinema series in a college paper back in the day); a beautiful Monet of that infamous waterlily pond; and a haunting Modigliani. I even got to see some different things by the artist Gerhard Richter, whom I really enjoy. See, it wasn't a total wash. Also, the cafe had very nice tea.

I had my first fish and chips of the trip on Tuesday! There's this chip shop right by our flats in Waterloo, Fishcotheque (clever!), and they had really great fish and chips. Highly recommended.

For the evening, our whole librarian crew met up again at the Barbican Centre to take in a show. We saw Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allen Poe. The synoposis rightly called this musical grotesquely gothic: the costumes were modern goth to the extreme, and the staging was essentially dark lacy screens with colored lights when absolutely necessary. The players were really great, lovely voices and clearly a lot of talent. I'm not really a big Poe fan, but I am definitely a fan of this musical!


  1. How did they kill ol' Poe in the play? So many rumors.

  2. The played Poe's death in a way perfectly befitting rumors; he somehow ended up at least six hours away from the place he was meant to be, having raved to local barmen about plots to kill him. His own aunt and fiancee didn't know he had died until he'd already been buried.