True gripes: glass lifts

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The plans by Herzog and de Meuron for the new bankside Tate Gallery set me shaking in my pitons. All glass floors, open scaffolding and cat-walks.

I'm the founder of a new pressure-group: "LAVVIES" (Lovers of Art with Vomiting Vertigo in Elevated Situations). The aim is to track down and poison with Brazilian blow-darts those architects of new galleries or museums who insist on glass lifts, external staircases, exposed escalators, or any other trendy new horrors calculated to land us LAVVIES in a sodden heap of sheer terror by the time we've made it to the cultural pukes - sorry - peaks on the top floor of the new gallery.

The Centre Beaubourg started its moving staircases on the outside, giving giddy views out over Paris, which demand more sheer steely-eyed nerve than the ascent of Everest. And every new gallery extension now comes complete with an obligatory glass ampoule of a lift, plunging up and down like a mad syringe.

The latest horror is the new Reina Sofia centre of contemporary art in Madrid, where helpless LAVVIES desiring only to pay their humble tribute to Guernica are hurtled up and down the front of the building in a glass box that projects out into open, unsupported, unclutchable space - the void that sadistic directors show you with lingering shots in films where the villain tries to push the heroine off the penthouse floor.

We LAVVIES recognise one another furtively as we scale the heights of some new monstrosity. We are the ones pathetically asking the way to the service-lifts, gripping the escalator belts with sweaty palms, holding our catalogues over our eyes as we step into the down elevator on the way out. Sick-bags could be our very latest accessory. Why don't they sell them in the museum shops, with a tasteful Impressionist rainbow on the outside of the bag, or perhaps a Duchamps urinal?

I suppose a new breed of art-lover will eventually emerge, all cravats and crampons, climbing-boots by Manolo Blahnik, a spell at the Courtauld followed by the north face of the Eiger.

All these new museums boast of making provision for the disabled, but they see disability only in physical terms. I bet there are more art lovers with vertigo than there are in wheelchairs.

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