Posted in gallery

Diane Arbus at Hayward Gallery, Southbank

Back on the May bank holiday we had and a lovely family visit to the Hayward Gallery on London’s Southbank for the last day of the wonderful Diane Arbus “In the beginning” exhibition. 

I was intrigued to see her work as she has one of those names I’ve heard a thousand times but yet wasn’t very familiar with her photography. So took the lads for an afternoon on the Southbank (gone are the days of Bank Holiday’s spent in pub beer gardens – right?)

With our Art Fund pass (highly recommend; very much worth the investment for those of us counting pennies on mat leave) tickets were a reasonable £7 each – the same as two cups of tea in their cafe (where, incidentally, there is a lovely long sofa, perfect for breastfeeding). 

Decided to take the wee man in his sling – definitely easier for negotiating the warren that is the Southbank Centre, which brings new meaning to the term brutalism for any mum’s with prams! (Though, I was told by a v helpful security guard that step-free access was available via the Royal Festival Hall and car park). 

Staff at the gallery were super-friendly and helpful; as soon as we stepped into the exhibition someone approached to show us where the lift was (Diane Arbus was on the top floor) – a thoughtful gesture – though took the stairs as got to squeeze in some exercise where I can! 

Not sure if the wee man had unusually discerning taste for 6 months or if he was simply enjoying the smiles of his fellow Arbus fans but as soon as we started making our way round, he started squealing like a stuck pig. I veered between feeling waves of love and waves of embarrassment; dashing in and out of the space depending on which emotion was taking over. Eventually the big man pointed out that no-one cared and in fact, some were actually enjoying his exuberance. 

Maybe it is fitting that we felt so comfortable and welcome viewing an exhibition by a celebrated photographer whose pictures beautifully capture ordinary people going about their day-to-day lives; but I don’t always feel like that with the wee one in tow. The only downside to the experience was that the baby-changing facilities were a little hard to find (they are in the far toilet next to the cloakroom on the ground floor) with signs demonstrating inclusivity – great) – but no clear sign for which loo offers a changing table – not great if you’re handling a small, wriggling baby with a stinky nappy. 

Hayward in a nutshell

Cost ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Obviously it depends on the exhibition you’re going to see, but £7 with an Art Pass seems reasonable

Accessibility ⭐️⭐️
Bring a sling if you can – the Southbank is a warren. Lifts are accessible via Royal Festival Hall and the car park, apparently.  

Facilities ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Baby changing is available on the ground floor (far toilet) but could do with being sign-posted

Feeding friendly ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Grab the sofa and your golden. 

General vibes ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Loved it, a great afternoon out with both the big and wee lads with lovely gallery-goers and staff.

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