art/design

サマセット・ハウスSomerset House

© Richard Bryant/Somerset House

© Richard Bryant/Somerset House

Any first time visitor to Somerset House will at first feel some trepidation about entering through the hallowed archways of the Strand entrance. It is immediately clear that this is a grand building, through the entrance a very large courtyardサマセット・ハウスに初めて訪れると、壮大な建物であることはすぐに分かる。エントランスからは、建築デザインを見渡すことができる広い中庭が広がる。バッキンガム宮殿のような王室のように思われるが、ガードマンなどもおらずオープンだ。一旦、壮麗なエントランスをまたぐと過去にタイムスリップしたかのように感じる。サマセット・ハウスには、本にもできるような長い歴史がある。この発展的な建築物は、1547年にここに大邸宅を建て始めたサマセット公爵から名づけられた。残念なことに、彼が選んだ場所はあまり人気がなく、テムズ川を少し下ったこの場所で彼の時間を費やすこととなったのだ。そこはまた1640年代のイギリスの市民戦争の間、王族や軍の本部として使われた。18世紀までに、建物は倒壊し、修復されることなく廃墟となった。その後、最新鋭の技術を使い建て直すことが決定した。1775年、ウィリアムチャンバーは、国家の壮大な建築物のひとつとして、新しいサマセット・ハウスのデザイナーに指名され、1801年までに完成させた。世界第二次大戦の間は、政府の御用所として多目的に使用されたが、今日ではビジュアルアートと舞台アートの文化スポットとなっている。

春らしい日は、多くの人々がウォ-タールー橋からすぐの距離にあるこの美しい建物に酔いしれ楽しむ。椅子と机が置かれたとても広いテラスで、雲の隙間から顔をのぞかせる太陽の日差しをあびるのが好きな英国人だけでなく、サマセット・ハウスは、旅行好きのビジターにとっても快適の場所である。東棟にあるフェルナンデス&ウェルズのようなカフェや南棟にあるトムキッチン、コートールド・ギャラリーにあるカフェなど、建物内にはいくつかカフェが用意されている。

川側の入口のすぐとなりにあるギャラリーは、ビジュアルアートを愛する人々にとってうってつけの場所となっており、永続的なアートコレクションだけでなく、展示会、ランチライムのトークや特別なイベントも開催される。また、サマセット・ハウスに関する書籍やアートブック、小さいながらも素敵なコートールド・ギャラリーショップもある。ギャラリーの他に、冬の間は、スケートリンクや、映画上映など数々の特別なイベントが行われ、最近では、ロンドンのファッションウィークも開催されている。ファッションウィークの間は、多くのビジターが最新のファッションを見ようと訪れ、もちろん、旬なデザイナー達も仕事として集まってくる。また、多くの彫刻作品がある法廷を囲んでいる建物の景観をみてもるのもいいかもしれない。テラスルームも素晴らしいが、南棟を通り抜けるとまた違ったギャラリーがあり、ローカルの素晴らしい景色が広がっている。

建物の右側に川が流れていた頃の19世紀の景色とは違うが、幻想的な美しい町の景色を楽しむことができる。南棟は魅力的で、エンバンクメント・ギャラリーのすばらしいアーチのロビーと学習施設もある。とにかく、サマセット・ハウスには、訪れる価値十分なスペースとギャラリーが数多くある。200年に渡り、ロンドンの中心に構える見事な建物の様相にうっとりし、すべてのアートを十分楽しんでもなおまた訪れたくなる理由がある。それは、建物の歴史とは対照的に幅広い年齢層の人々を楽しませてくれる公演や特別なイベントを提供してくれる文化スポットでもあることだ。オープンな雰囲気の中、コンサートは新しい音楽を取り入れた新鋭アーティストのためのチャンスの場としてステージが用意され、ワークショップは独自のアート表現を学ぶファミリーのために開かれている。文学の王位協会もイベントを開催することがある。隣にはキングス・カレッジがあり、最近この大学のパトロンである女王が訪れ、改修を終えた東棟のオープンに立ち会った。

Somerset House
住所:The Strand, London WC2R 1LA
営業時間:10:00〜18:00(※The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court と River Terrace & Seamen’s Hall は早朝から営業)
入場料:Embankment Galleries 8 GBP / The Courtauld Gallery 6 GBP
TEL:+44 (0)20 7845 4600
info@somersethouse.org.uk
http://www.somersethouse.org.uk

Text: Michael Sullivan
Translation: Hiroko Nakagawa
can be seen and the architectural design proclaims itself as being a special place. You may even suspect it is a royal residence like Buckingham Palace, however, there are no guards, nor anything to prevent entry, and once you have bravely strode through the magnificent archway into the elegant open space that is formed at the centre of the building, you will feel that you have been transported into the past. In fact, Somerset House has a very long history, enough to fill a book. This expansive structure takes its name from the Duke of Somerset, a man of the 1500s who began building his mansion on this spot in 1547. Unfortunately, his choice of location wasn’t very popular and he ended up spending a bit of time locked up further down the river Thames in the Tower of London. In its later years it would be used as a residence by royalty and as army headquarters during the English Civil War in the 1640s. By the eighteenth century the building had fallen in disrepair and ruin, so it was decided to pull it down and build a new, marvellous structure. In 1775 Sir William Chambers was given the task of designing the new Somerset House with the explicit instruction of creating ‘an object of national splendour,’ and by 1801 it had been completed. Although, in the years following it would be expanded further to create the building that can be seen today. Over the course of its history it has seen many uses, such as government offices, including by the Ministry of Supply during World War Two, until today it has become a cultural centre for visual and performing arts.

On a nice spring day many people find themselves drawn to this beautiful building which is only a short distance from the river and Waterloo Bridge. For British people who love to sit outside whenever the sun appears from behind the clouds there is a very large terrace with chairs and tables, but also Somerset House lends itself to the visitor who wants to wander in and out of an building that offers many sights. In several parts of the building there are cafes such as Fernandez & Wells in the East Wing, Tom’s Kitchen in the South Wing and the Courtauld Gallery Café in The Courtauld Gallery. This gallery is the best place to begin for lovers of the visual arts, it is right next to the Strand entrance; there is a permanent collection of art, as well as exhibitions, lunchtime talks and special events. There is also a wonderful little Courtauld Gallery shop which stocks many beautiful books of art, and also books about Somerset House. Beyond this gallery you will find yourself in a large courtyard, the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court, during the winter months it has a skating rink and throughout the rest of the year it is used for a number of special events such as open air cinema, and more recently for London Fashion Week. During the fashion week many visitors were treated to the sight of models wearing the latest fashions, as well as the work of the latest designers, which invokes a curious recollection that at one time the most fashionable gentlemen of the nineteenth century would also have passed through the same entranceways. It is also noteworthy to check the exteriors of the buildings lining the open court as there are numerous carvings denoting prior patriotic tenants. Passing through to the South wing you will find more galleries, such as the Terrace Rooms, and also the terrace itself which provides wonderful views of the local area. It may not be the same view as in the nineteenth century when the river came right up to the building, but you can still stand alongside the ghosts of the past and enjoy a beautiful city landscape. The South Wing also allows entry to the lower level of Somerset House, the Embankment level, which you can find the Embankment Galleries, the Great Arch Lobby and a Learning Centre. There are many rooms, and galleries, throughout Somerset House so it is best to plan your visit well.

After feasting on all the art there is on offer, and admiring the architecture of this amazing building which has stood at the heart of London for over two hundred years, there are always constant reasons to visit again. It is an established cultural centre which in stark contrast to the age of the building continuously offers up special events of new performances that appeal to people of all ages. Open air concerts are staged which offer the chance for emerging artists to write new music to perform live on the main stage, workshops are organised for families to learn to create their own art, and the Royal Society of Literature can also be found here with their own programme of events. It is rather poignant that over the centuries this site has been used for multiple purposes, and now today it is a multipurpose structure. King’s College, which is next door, recently moved into the East Wing and saw the return of royalty to the building when the Queen came to officially open it.

Somerset House
Address: The Strand, London WC2R 1LA
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 18:00
*The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court and River Terrace & Seamen’s Hall will open from early morning to night
Admission: Embankment Galleries 8 GBP / The Courtauld Gallery 6 GBP
Tel: +44 (0)20 7845 4600
info@somersethouse.org.uk
http://www.somersethouse.org.uk

Text: Michael Sullivan

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