Like the title says, this post is supposed to be about Yannick’s and my visit to the new Serpentine Sackler Gallery in Kensington Gardens. And it is, really. It’s just that some cherry blossom, yuzu meringue tart, Mashiko Pottery (see the Japanese connection there?) and the Albert Memorial have crept in too.
Yannick and I had arranged to meet in the Italian Gardens near to the Lancaster Gate entrance, but luckily he was late (stuck in traffic) which gave me time to admire a truly lovely planting of pink and white cherry blossom right by the gate.
From there we walked down to the gallery, with me heroically resisting the white cherry blossom that bloomed at intervals along the path.
The new gallery is a conversion of a former gunpowder depot, called The Magazine. It’s built in layers, the central part being the original gunpowder store from 1805, which was enclosed by outer walls in the 1860s, and had a Palladian portico added on the front in the 1920s. Why you would need a Palladian portico on an armaments store I’m not quite sure.
It was used by the army until 1963 and then became the place where the Mall’s flagpoles were stored. (Where are they now, I wonder?). Full marks to the Serpentine Gallery for realising it could be something more.
The current exhibition is guest-curated by Martino Gamper and is titled Design is a State of Mind. It consists of a ‘landscape’ of shelving systems dating from the 1930’s to the present day, displaying objects chosen by Gamper from the personal archives of his friends and colleagues. Here’s a few that caught my eye.
Shelving by Martino Gamper, objects courtesy of Ernst Gamperi.
Bookcase by Anna Castle Ferrari, objects courtesy of Jurgen Bay.
Gritti bookcase by Andrea Branzi. Objects courtesy of Maki Suzuki.
The central gunpowder store is the most interesting part of the building. It houses a homage to Italian designer Enzo Mari in the form of a collection of his drawings notes and designs held down by unusual paperweights collected by him over the years.
Then it was off to the gallery shop, reached through this wonderful door.
The shop was actually one of the aims of our visit as during the exhibition it is being curated by Momosan Shop, which specialises in Japanese ceramics, including Yannick and my favourite, Mashiko pottery.
We were tempted to add to our collections but heroically resisted (I might go back) and headed instead for the restaurant and coffee shop in the new Zaha Hadid extension, described by the Guardian as ‘the deluxe marquee to end all marquees’.
Inside it’s quirkily modern in a fifties retro kind of way, with odd shaped tables in zingy colours which I liked and Yannick didn’t.
However, he did speak highly of his yuzu meringue tart.
With Yannick fortified by tart (I don’t eat cake) we crossed the bridge over the Serpentine Boating Lake, taking a final look back at the gallery as we went, called in to the main Serpentine Gallery for a quick tour of the Haim Steinbach show and a gawp at the space where last year’s pop-up pavilion by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto stood and where this year’s pavilion by Smiljan Radic will be, and headed for South Kensington tube.
However, on the way I’m afraid we were waylaid again by cherry blossom, this time a fabulous grove of pink blossom right by the Albert Memorial.
A jolly afternoon out, which Yannick followed up with a visit to the Tate Britain with Twitter friends to feed his insatiable desire for art while I met the OH for dinner in town.