This weekend art lovers in London have an exciting new exhibition to experience. The new show is either one of the best art installations ever or the worst idea since Piero Manzoni decided to buy some cans.

A room where it never stops raining. Why they'd need that in London, we're not quite sure… Picture: Getty Images

Given the typically grey and gloomy weather forecast for the UK’s capital, anyone visiting the Barbican Gallery’s new show may struggle to notice the difference between the installation and the streets outside.

That’s because the exhibit recreates a typical autumnal day in London, employing 2500 litres of water to create: The Rain Room. Yes, you read that right - a gallery in London has created a room where it never stops raining.

Now this would be a novelty in Death Valley or Abu Dhabi, but smack bang in the centre of one of the rainiest cities in Europe, it’s hardly a revelation.

I lived in London for more than a decade and loved almost every minute, but the moments I didn’t enjoy usually involved rain.

Weak and unrelenting, London rain is a pain in the ass.

During a short spell living in Sydney ten years ago I was amazed at the biblical power of her rainstorms.

I was even more surprised to discover that at 1217mm a year on average, Sydney has double London’s rather paltry 591mm.

Don’t even get me started on my wonderful two years in Far North Queensland.

Australia's Iguazu – FNQ’s mighty Barron River in epic spate after record May rainfall. Picture: Simon Crerar


In the tropics I enjoyed 330mm of rain in one VERY #BigWet DAY earlier this year.

Australia’s rain is like the rest of Australia’s weather: big and exciting.

London’s rain is just crappy, unrelenting drizzle, like an annoying kid bugging you with a plastic plant spray.

Hurray, it's summer! Picture: AFP

Being enveloped by this saturating mist gradually eats into an optimistic man’s soul: which is part of the reason I now live in sunny Sydney.

The twist at the Barbican is that as you walk underneath the Rain Room’s deluge it magically senses your presence, so you feel a little like Moses parting the Red Sea before you surface in the gallery shop dry as an Arnotts Sayo Biscuit.

Where does all the water go?

Which I guess is kind of cool: except as soon as you go outside you’re getting wet anyway.

Art eh? Whatever will they think of next? 

Simon Crerar is News Limited’s Visual Story Editor. Follow Simon on Twitter

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEST.

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8 comments

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    • back door says:

      03:14pm | 05/10/12

      if you take off all your clothes ,then the rain can give you a free bath !

    • front door says:

      03:15pm | 05/10/12

      if you smell, you can remove all your clothes in the rain and get a free shower.
      ring your own soap

    • acotrel says:

      06:02am | 06/10/12

      There could be a whole big new market for soap in London ! But probably only tourists visit the exhibit. Imagine having a bath in a lean-to kitchen in London in mid-winter ? It would make you want to emigrate.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      03:34pm | 05/10/12

      Ant gets to drivel on about footy and footy franks… and then gets the Art posts as well. What’s going on Ant? You must have the gift of the gab; you drink Carlton beer one day and Montrachet the next. Life must be Tuff!

    • Scotchfinger says:

      04:11pm | 05/10/12

      oops, not Ant after all. Apologies.

    • Gregg says:

      08:00am | 06/10/12

      Yep, pulled the finger out at least or is it back in again!

      Now that could be artistic, making up a dike complete with finger holes.

    • Super D says:

      06:23pm | 05/10/12

      As a current London resident I can confirm that this “artwork” is a little redundant.  At the moment there is the ever presentrisk of finding oneself damp.

      I can’t say I miss the torrential downpours that would leave an ill prepared sydneyside soaked to the skin but at least they would come and go.  I’m not looking forward to the days of drizzle ahead.

    • Gregg says:

      08:05am | 06/10/12

      Yeah, well just like most of Australia, coming and going is a problem and not necessarily Koala’s with their liking for roots and leaves.

      Big problem is hoping the coming is where some dams with adequate capacity are so there is not a lot of unmanaged going and then the countryside being parched and going thirsty.
      Even Sydney has its water problems amongst more than a few others and Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth will not leave Sydney lonely either on the water works at least.

 

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