This Sunday, we visited the Tate Modern to check out the Olafur Eliasson exhibition which is currently being displayed across the Gallery.
It is an amazing collection of works, across lots of different mediums and great to expose kids to the world of art. Especially since many of the pieces are interactive and perfect for opening their minds not only to art, but also science and the world around us. The exhibition is on until Jan 2020, it includes a waterfall outside the gallery, an interactive Lego display in the Turbine Hall and the main exhibition is made up of around 7 rooms on the 2nd floor, it took us around an hour to explore it in detail. Each room displays a different theme from his life and works, lots of different materials are used and a family friendly leaflet is also provided with key points for children to look out for during the tour.
We had not taken the kids to the Tate before, but they both loved the open spaces and little areas to explore all over the gallery, it is a great way to spend an afternoon at the weekend.
We finally managed to get the kids to leave the exhibition, which took a while since the last installation is an interactive table to build models at. We had initially planned to head up to the fifth floor members bar, however as per normal the youngest wanted a snack which were in the rucksack stored in the ground floor cloakroom. As we were already near the exit we decided actually to head out for coffees instead.
A normal Sunday afternoon, suddenly changed, within minutes the main turbine hall had to be evacuated and all exits to leave the gallery were closed.
It was only once we headed up to the first floor and saw the air ambulance arrive, did the news stories start coming in of the incident that had occurred just a few floors above us, whilst we had been busy looking at art work with our kids. My immediate reaction was that it was a terrorist attack or a drill, before we were told it was a medical emergency, saw the ambulance waiting and stretcher taken out, but the exits still did not reopen, which seemed strange since the helicopter had already taken off by now. It makes sense now, but at the time a lot of mixed messages were coming out.
What happened, could have happened to anyone. A six year old boy, could have just as easily been my 5 year boy. That is what is so scary, as a parent your first extinct is to protect your children, but how do you protect them from dangers like this. If I think too much about it and how close to home it was, I start to feel sick. Since having kids, news that involves children being hurt or passing away is just too much to often deal with. I would rather only think about them at the surface level.
The Tate Modern is filled with children, an amazing space in London where they should be able to be free to explore, learn and be kids, which was what one family was doing, expect this was snatched from them in a split second and their world changed.
As parents, or even as humans, what do we do? Dangers exist everywhere, even in the most unlikely locations. The Tate Modern, is like a giant middle class Waitrose on the weekend, its not somewhere that your guard is automatically up for. What is the balance between keeping our children safe but still letting them discover the wonders in this world?
Around the same time, the other news that dominated the headlines were the shootings in america. Again in a supermarket, a normal everyday, real world location that people should feel safe going to.
We have traveled to more remote locations in the past, often places that are stereotypical considered 'unsafe', and been questioned as to why we are taking kids to these places. But no one would question why you would take your child to the supermarket, or to an art gallery in London, or to walk across a bridge, visit a Christmas market etc. These are just everyday, real world parts of our day, but these can often be the most fateful. We had to explain to my oldest, what had happened. Our approach to parenting is to be honest with him, so we told him what had happened. On the day he did not quite understand what it all meant, for him it just meant he could not have his babychino. But then the next day, he asked if the little boy was still in hospital, showing that it had sunk in the seriousness of what had happened. The world he will grow up in, will not always be pretty, this is unfortunately a reality that as parents we cannot always shield them from.
I really hope the tragic events that occurred this weekend do not stop other families from visiting, the exhibition is truly magical for children of all ages, and one persons disgusting actions should not ruin that. At first I was not going to write this post, or even promote visiting the Tate, but then after receiving lots of messages from people who care to see if we were ok etc. I changed my mind, people should take time out and visit the Tate. Nothing happened to us on Sunday, our children were not hurt, I have no idea why that teenager did what he did but we cannot let our children live in fear of tomorrow.
The real world is often unfair and I hope so much that little boy recovers completely.