For one year in 2012, I was a writer in residence at the Tate Modern Building project. My job was to interview some of the architects and construction workers, and write. Below is footage I shot on my phone, early in the construction of the site behind the original Tate building. The New Tate building opened last Friday, I was invited to a private view the Monday before and walking through it was an incredible experience... I gasped so many times! Seeing and breathing in a structure I'd first encountered as lines and gradients on paper, now live, alive...
Some of the work was carried out by MACE who built Heathrow's Terminal 5 and the employment manager (as she talked me through various incredible schemes they had to train young and working class folks from South London to work on the site) had this MACE screensaver on her laptop. And this was the start of my poem...
The Employment Manager’s Laptop.
Over her shoulder the photograph glowing
on the screen is of an airport's new terminal
and folks in transit; a brunette in pink swings
an umbrella over the polished marble floor.
In the foreground, two others wheel luggage
towards the check-in desks. Three attendants,
their lanyards laden, talk relaxed beneath
the soaring arched ceiling as so much light fills
the just-unwrapped brilliance of the building
and in the middle, one man stands behind
his stacked bags, facing the departure lounge,
perhaps he thinks of flight.
And it's all I need
to imagine past her shoulders, blur the screen,
this contractor’s office stuffed with boxes,
scuffed boots, hard hats, and see into the years
from now, when these drawings littered like
white leaves have grown into the building,
how the planned asphalt and gravel walk
touches the quilt-pattern brick of the new
tower, twisting up as birds nose dive towards
the silver birch on grass and so much light
hits the window slits cut in the walls and
the glass, catching the sun's wide wink, glints
from the future, promising what's to come.
Hope you enjoyed this, share if you did, and go check out the Tate Modern.