people in space – but disconsolate

November 26, 2011

People in space is a term I’m always banging on about to students – an understanding of ergonomics is crucial in designing public and private outside areas. So yesterday, the evacuation of the galleries of Tate Modern was not only an unusual event but a concrete example people milling in space without a physical rationale but with an emotional  common goal – itching to get back inside and re establish the experience.

At least I’d managed to get to the final room of the Richter before the alarm went off – some poor folks may have only just entered the first room. Nightmare! We were ushered down the fire staircase – all bright yellow – and  catapulted out into the cold afternoon.  There was a general unwillingness to move too far away – all hugger mugger as close to the entrances as permitted – the staff didn’t like that one bit.

We stood around and either looked at each other without really looking at each other or faffed about with phones.

Upset and resentful at being dragged away from a delicious experience only to sit and wait on benches right next to rubbish bins!

Disconsolate people gave up and wandered away. What a contrast to the focus of the Richter work.  The final whistle had been blown before we’d drunk it all in. The lovely trees reminded me that it was time to go off and teach young people about plants.

Walking by the waters

down where an honest river

shakes hands with the sea,

a woman passed round me

in a slow watchful circle,

as if I were a superstition;


or the worst dregs of her imagination,

so when she finally spoke

 her words spliced into bars

 of an old wheel.

 A segment of air. Where do you come from?

 ‘Here’ I said, ‘Here. These parts’.   Jackie Kay  In My Country

2 Responses to “people in space – but disconsolate”

  1. Adam Hodge Says:

    Priceless read Julia..just wondered how you felt about the density of the Betula plantation..I recollect them being so intensely planted I didn’t feel inclined to walk amongst them, rather disappointing for such lovely you say !

  2. julia fogg Says:

    Hi Adam, the birch are beautifully managed – replaced often I presume. I have seen children playing amongst them but on Friday people streamed through as well which felt right and looked rather magical. Not so good for root plate but then in this situation . . . my understanding of the birch planting is that it would receive as much management attention as for example bedding! It looks very at home although orf course quite contrived.

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