Leaving yesterday’s swans behind I headed into the tunnel under the lovely sandstone bridge over the Serpentine, emerging on the other side beside the most enormous willow tree many of whose branches have dropped down in the lake.
Just above, on the corner of the bridge is the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in the old ‘Magazine’, a gun powder store built in 1805.
The building was redesigned as a gallery by the late Zaha Hadid – and it is a fabulous space. And while she was at it, she created a restaurant next door with one of her characteristic swooping roofs. A brilliant place to have lunch after broadening one’s mind with one of the gallery’s more far out exhibitions.
The main Serpentine Gallery on the other side of the bridge, despite its classical looks, was actually built as a tea room in 1934 and turned into a gallery in 1970. Both it and the newer Magazine gallery (both of course now closed thanks to COVID 19) focus on very cutting edge contemporary art – I have seen some amazing show in both over the years.
Every year since the turn of the century (this year sadly excepted) they have also commissioned a temporary ‘pavilion’ to be built on the lawn in front of the gallery. Internationally famous architects are invited to submit designs the only criterion being that they have not completed a building in England at the time of the invitation. And there have been some seriously amazing creations! To see all 20 of them and find out more about the individual architects check in to the gallery’s pages here. But back to the lake.
As you walk down the north shore you emerge from the trees into a clearing dominated by Henry Moore’s arch made from seven travertine stones weighing a total of 37 tonnes from a quarry in northern Italy. I am not entirely sure what has happened to the grass around the arch this year – maybe it too has been hit by COVID 19 – or maybe they are just about to relay. It looks for like the Australian outback than lush Kensington gardens.
And finally for today, looking back up the lake to the bridge with Sir Basil’s much maligned tower somewhat dominating the horizon….. Tomorrow – Peter Pan, Prince Albert and some late flowering chestnuts.
(For those of you keen on history, this is what Wikipedia has to say about the lake:
In 1730 Queen Caroline, wife of George II, ordered the damming of the River Westbourne in Hyde Park as part of a general redevelopment of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Original monastic ponds may have existed in the location and these were modified as part of the 1730–1732 scheme to create a single lake. At that time, the Westbourne formed eleven natural ponds in the park. During the 1730s, the lake filled to its current size and shape. The redevelopment was carried out by Royal Gardener Charles Bridgeman, who dammed the Westbourne to create the artificial lake, and dug a large pond in the centre of Kensington Gardens (The Round Pond) to be a focal point for pathways in the park. At the time of construction, artificial lakes were typically long and straight. The Serpentine was one of the earliest artificial lakes designed to appear natural, and was widely imitated in parks and gardens nationwide.)
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