Quite a few of my thirtytwothings post will be about London experiences I think. Not because I think London is the cultural heartland – far from it – but because this blog has given me an excuse to properly explore our Capital for the first time.
Rain Room is an installation by Random International in the Curve at The Barbican in London. A few firsts for me here, first time at the Barbican and first work by Random International.
The walk from Moorgate tube to Barbican in itself was interesting. Firstly, I could see I was roughly in the right place, but couldn’t for the life of me work out where I was supposed to go. Then secondly – after a friendly security guard helped me on my way – I found myself on the walkways of the Barbican estate, amazed. I loved the lake, the concrete waterfalls and the ducks making the most of the damp weather.
The irony of going to see it rain indoors when it’s raining outside and when I’m from what is possibly the dampest city on earth is not lost on me. But, to be able to control the weather – to enjoy the childish rush of stepping out into a rain storm and not get wet – that entices me. Who hasn’t sat inside when the rain comes down in a blanket and wanted to run out into it?
The queue, for there is a queue, a long one, is a mix of families, tourists and girls in wellies, drinking coffee, chatting and reading the weekend papers while waiting for the room to open.
As you arrive at the front and wait your turn to enter, you can hear the rain – like sitting on a veranda in a storm – and you can hear the squeals of people in front of you as they get an unexpected drop of water. Because it turns out you do get wet. Just a little. Usually if you move too quickly for the sensors to respond.
When I finally make it into the room, I love the way the light silhouettes the rain drops and casts shadows of the people under the rain shower onto the curved wall. The rain itself is mesmerising. As is watching the patterns in the floating roof as the water stops flowing when people move beneath it.
In the rain itself, if you find a space on your own and stay still, the water closes around you. It’s comforting. The technicality of it invokes a small sense of wonder.
I love seeing (experiencing?) art like this. Something that looks beautiful and invites interaction and respect for how it’s been created.
Like Jeremy Deller’s Sacrilege, Rain Room is a leveller. Spectacular, but completely understandable – you just have to take the risk and walk into the rain.