All posts by Hazel

Things to do in Gävleborg, Sweden: Hamra National Park and Bortom Åa, one of the UNESCO decorated farmhouses.

In an enchanting corner of the county of Gävleborg, near the border with Dalarna are two hidden gems: The Hamra National Park and Bortom Åa, a Hälsingland decorated farmhouse and designated UNESCO Heritage Site. The north of Sweden is beautiful and particularly rich in culture, folklore and tradition. Carl von Linné, the famous biologist, described Hälsingland as a microcosm because of the variety of different habitats found within its borders. There are lakes, rivers, wetlands, forests and mountains to explore, a fabulous coastline with sandy beaches and the enchanting islands of the archipelago. Hälsingland is in Gävleborg county in Norrland (North Sweden) and sits about mid-way up the country, less than 3 hours from Stockholm.

Hamra National Park
This corner of Sweden is bear country and Hamra has one of the densest bear populations in the country as it provides the perfect habitat for their populations to flourish. Hamra National Park is special; it is covered by ancient woodland that has never been managed. This is unusual in Sweden and it is estimated that some of the trees are over 400 years old. There is a very special feeling to ancient places and it is a rare privilege in Europe to walk in such ancient woodland, surrounded by thick carpets of moss and tall spruce trees. The park is well organised for visitors and offers a selection of different walking trails of varying lengths through its different environments. Almost half the park is wetland with a

Wetlands at Hamra National Park
Hamra Tarn

mixture of forest lakes, streams, marshes, fens and small islands with pine trees. These areas are accessible via wooden walk ways that give a visitor access to a unique habitat usually out-of-bounds to people. The Svartå River runs through the park and is home to otters, fresh mussels and the pretty white-throated dipper. The wetlands attract a variety of different birds and in spring Cranes come to the lakes to mate and in April you can hear the mating calls of the black grouse. Bears live here all year round; however they are notoriously shy and if you really want to go bear watching one of the best ways to see them is to visit the Vargas Wilderness Lodge, run by Sweden Wildlife, and use one of their hides (www.swedenwildlife.se).

Bortom Åa – A UNESCO Heritage Site
Hidden away on the borderland between Dalarna and Hälsingland, a few kilometres west of Hamra, is the forest village of Fågelsjö, the home of Bortom Åa one of the 7 UNESCO Hälsingegårdar heritage sites. The farmstead (Hälsingegårdar) is the oldest in the village and was first established when the Finns came to the area in the 1600s. Bortom Åa means “beyond the river” and its name comes from its location, as it sits on the opposite side of the river to the rest of the village.

Bortom aa - one of Sweden's decorated farmhouses
Festivities room at Bortom aa – one of Sweden’s decorated farmhouses

The setting is idyllic and there is camping and boating facilities, as well as a cafe and shop at the farm, but it is the original farmhouse that has been designated a UNESCO heritage site. The farm was owned by the same family for 7 generations before being left to the local council for preservation. The main building was built in 1818 and it is beautifully preserved, the original wallpaper and ornately painted walls still in perfect condition.  The farm has an interesting and eccentric history. In 1910 the family built a new modern house opposite the original and when they moved out of the old house, they took nothing with them; they simply walked out and locked the door, leaving the old house intact. This is fascinating to see, the entire house is preserved complete with furniture, decorations, ornaments, toys, clothes and household items. The rest of the farmstead is well-preserved too and provides a rare look at rural life and its traditional working practices; there are the original workers quarters, the gun smithy, the bake house, storehouses, threshing barns, cow sheds and stables. The stories associated with the farm and family are fascinating too and the guided tours are excellent. A visit to Bortom Åa gives one a glimpse into the past in a way that no traditional museum ever can.

For more information on these two fascinating destinations visit:
Bortom Åa:  www.fagelsjo.nu and for an information sheet in English click here .
For more information on Hamra National Park, including directions click here .

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Good food and fabulous views at The Fox Goes Free near Chichester, West Sussex

Tucked away in the small village of Charlton, just off the main road to Chichester, is the Fox Goes Free.  This beautiful village pub is full of character with flint walls, big old oak beams and open fireplaces.  The pub is over 400 years old and has quite a history; it takes its name from the famous Charlton hunt which was started in 1670 when William III would regularly visit the Fox Goes Free with the royal hunting party.  The building still has many of its original features including the old bread oven, inglenook fireplaces and low beamed ceilings.  It is a truly quintessential English pub and has everything you imagine a traditional old ale house would have, including a fantastic orchard inspired garden with views over the South Downs.

The Fox Goes Free is the perfect place for a quick drink, a lazy lunch or an evening meal and over the years has built up a well-deserved reputation for its food.  The kitchen serves up traditional fare including a famous Sunday Roast and a selection of Mediterranean inspired dishes.  Whenever possible they use locally sourced produce and the well stocked bar includes some interesting local real ales and a selection of hand-picked wines. There are two separate dining areas and if you want a table in one of these it is best to book.  One room opens onto the main bar and has a lively casual dining feel to it.  The other is tucked away from the buzz of the bars in a beautiful wood panelled room with a low ceiling, which gives the space a more intimate feel to it.  All offer a bar menu and an À La Carte menu and in the summer the garden is host to the Fox’s infamous barbecues and hog roasts.

As well as good food, excellent local ales and a friendly atmosphere The Fox Goes Free has 5 comfortable rooms and offers Bed and Breakfast.  In fact it’s worth staying here just for the breakfast and view alone!  All this makes the Fox Goes Free a great place to base yourself to explore the area, crash after a day’s hiking or rest after a day at the races or one of the other events held at Goodwood.

Click here for a lovely walk right from door of The Fox Goes Free

For more information about visiting the Fox Goes Free visit: http://www.thefoxgoesfree.com 

For information about Goodwood and the different events it holds visit:  www.goodwood.com

Pub Goodwood West Sussex
The For Goes Free, Charlton, West Sussex

Photography and Credits:  This is an independent review.  I have been a guest at the Fox Goes Free many times over the years and always paid for my stay.  The Fox Goes Free is a true gem.  Photography is care of the Fox Goes Free website and google images.

Jon-Lars Hälsingegårdar – a magnificent Hälsingland farmhouse

The county of Hälsingland is one of those pretty places just waiting to be discovered and not just because of its stunning coastline, beautiful countryside and wildlife. It is also home to one of Sweden’s most fascinating world heritage sites, the Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland (Hälsingegårdar in Swedish). There are many Hälsingegårdar but these seven: Gästgivars, Bommars, Kristofers, Jon-Lars, Erik-Anders, Pallars and Bortom Åa have the prestigious UNESCO designation. This year we visited Jon-Lars Hälsingegårdar and Pallars Hälsingegårdar.

Hälsingland was once the biggest producer of building timber and because the farmers there owned their own land and businesses they were very wealthy. They also travelled extensively on business and were influenced by the different architectural styles they saw and the grand houses of their wealthy clientele. This inspired them to create a unique decorative style of their own. They mixed elements of regional folk art with the fashionable styles of the times and built large farmhouses with lavishly decorated interiors.

The Jon-Lars Hälsingegårdar is a magnificent farmhouse and one of the largest Hälsingegårdar that still exists. The house is privately owned and the descendants of the original farming family still live there. The farmhouse was built in the mid-1800s for two brothers, Olof and Anders Andersson and their families. And there are still several original rooms, which have been maintained in exceptional condition. What is unusual about this Hälsingegårdar is that it was built as two identical parts; one part for each brother. Only the festivities room (the “herrstuga”) was shared; other than that the two parts of the house are identical but decorated completely differently. There are even separate entrances under the same porch roof.

On the ground floor only one side of the house has any original rooms. These are thought to have been decorated by the renowned painter Svärdes Hans Ersson from Dalarna around 1863 and are elaborately painted and have extensive stencil work. Upstairs there are two originally preserved guestrooms; the room on Ander’s side is exquisitely painted with elaborate landscapes and impressive detailing. Whilst on Olof’s side the room is decorated with ornate wallpaper, which is painted to look like silk. Both rooms have well preserved examples of the classic Swedish tiled fire places.

To read more about the history and cultural significance of the Hälsingegårdar click here.

Visiting Jon-Lars Hälsingegårdar
Jon-Lars Hälsingegårdar is in Långhed near Alfta in Hälsingland. Visits can be arranged by private appointment or during the summer months there is one guided tour a day, check with the visitors centre about summer opening times. Payment is taken at the gate.

Jon-Lars Hälsingegårdar & Pallars Hälsingegårdar are in the same village and the tours are arranged so you can easily see both Hälsingegårdar on the same day.

For more information about visiting the Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland and Jon-Lars Hälsingegårdar, visit:

http://www.regiongavleborg.se/halsingegardar/Gardarna/jon-lars-langhed-alfta/
http://www.ovanaker.se/
http://www.regiongavleborg.se/en/Halsingegardar/
www.halsingland.se

Jan Lars Hälsingegårdar Långhed
Jan Lars Hälsingegårdar Långhed

Enter in style – Swedish Porches

The Hälsingland farmers fused folk art and the fashionable architectural styles of the times to create their own unique designs for their homes.  They constructed elaborate porches and entrances for their farmhouses to show their wealth.  Above are some examples of the different personal styles created by the owners of these beautiful Hälsingegårdar (Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland).

If you are interested in reading more about Sweden’s Hälsingegårdar,  which are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Click on the links below:

Erik-Anders Hälsingegårdar (decorated farmhouse) – A UNESCO Heritage Site
Hamra National Park and Bortom Åa Hälsingegårdar– A UNESCO Heritage Site
The Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland (Hälsingegårdar)
Things to do in Hälsingland

Alfama – ancient streets, Fado music and guided walks in Lisbon

Lisbon was founded in Castelo and as it grew it spread down the slopes towards the River Tejo. The first area to form outside the castle walls was Alfama. This barrio is fascinating and still retains its ancient feel and Moorish influences. Its layout is chaotic, typical of Moorish cities where the narrow, confusingly arranged streets represented a defence as well as protection from the heat of the sun. This gives Alfama a very distinctive feel.

Alfama is different from the other areas of Lisbon. During the day the neighbourhood has a sleepy residential feel to it but at night it shifts gear; the restaurants and bars fill and the sound of Fado drifts through the air. Fado is the nostalgic Portuguese music that is considered to be the purest expression of Lisbon’s soul. Fado has its roots in Alfama. The bairro is the subject of many songs and has been the inspiration for Fado artists and songwriters throughout the ages; many consider Alfama to be the birthplace of Fado.

As you explore Alfama you will undoubtedly fall in love with its narrow streets, steep steps, dimly lit taverns, flower-laden iron balconies and pretty squares. The blogs LisbonLux and Carlos Fontes suggest walking routes that take you through some of the most interesting parts and I have included links and information about these walks at the end of this post.

Alternatively, if you prefer to explore alone, a good starting point is the Santa Luzia viewpoint (Miradouro de Santa Luzia). The old wooden Tram 28 stops here. As well as beautiful views over the city there is a small water garden with shaded seating and pretty murals made from the blue and white Portuguese tiles. A little further up the road is Largo Portas do Sol, this has fantastic panoramic views over Alfama and São Vicente; you can see the impressive Igreja e Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora, the splendid building of the National Pantheon and the dome of the Church of Saint Stephen. It is a breathtaking view. Nearby you will find the little kiosk Portas do Sol Café. The Café is on the wide street dominated by the statue of Saint Vincent, the patron saint of Lisbon, holding the symbols of the city – a boat with two ravens. Opposite is the Museum of Portuguese Decorative Arts, another place well worth a visit.

Other things we loved in Alfama included:

National Pantheon Lisbon
National Pantheon Lisbon

the National Pantheon, a 17th-century church and monument; the Fado Museum on Largo do Chafariz de Dentro; Sé de Lisboa, Lisbon’s Cathedral, on Largo da Sé; and the weirdly beautiful Casa do Bicos (House of Beaks or spikes) on Rua dos Bacalhoeiros, just a little way down from the Cathedral.

Self-guided walks around Alfama and Tram 28

LisbonLux have put together a fantastic self-guided walking route that takes you through the prettiest streets and past some of the best sights. This post is in English and Portuguese. Click here to read more ….

Carlos Fontes’ blog is a local historian. On his blog he talks about his 365 favourite things to do and see in Lisbon. Alfama is described in some detail and he outlines a walk that includes his favourite streets. His blog is in Portuguese so I have included a very rough description of his walk below in English or click here to read his blog in Portuguese

Carlo’s route starts at Lisbon’s Cathedral, Sé de Lisboa, from here he suggestions you follow the street Cruz de Sé in the direction of the Igreja de São Miguel de Alfama (built in séc.XVII), from the church head in the direction of Largo do Chafariz de Dentro (built séc.XIII) to the impressive Igreja de Santo Estevão (which was built in séc. XVIII, by João Nunes Tinoco); and finally seek out the bright pink building the O Pátio dos Quintalinhos on Villa Rocha just off Rua das Escolas Gerais. This building might not look much now but it is significant in Lisbon’s history; it was established in 1290 to advance learning and higher studies and symbolises the establishment of the first University of Lisbon.

Tram 28
Tram 28

Tram 28
A ride on Lisbon’s traditional wooden Tram 28 is a “must do” thing to do for anyone visiting Lisbon. LisbonLux have a whole blog post dedicated to Tram 28 and its route. Click here to find out more…

Photography and Credits:  Unless otherwise stated, all photography in this post is the property of LisbonLux.com. LisbonLux have generously given their permission for the use of their photography on this site.  LisbonLux is an independent blog and one of the best city guides to Lisbon on the web.  For more information about Lisbon visit:  www.lisbonlux.com

Summer in Sweden brings 19 hours of daylight to enjoy each day

There is lots to do in Sweden and the summer is a perfect time to explore its cities, enjoy the countryside and find out more about the culture.  To give you some ideas of things to do  we have put together a small selection of off-the-beaten-track places to visit.   See Sweden in the travel destinations at the top of the page or click the links below to access information on:

Gastrologik – one of Stockholm’s best restaurants
Off the beaten track in Stockholm
Things to do in the northern town of Umeå
Exploring the Tavelsjöleden trail near Umeå
The Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland
Erik-Anders Hälsingegårdar (decorated farmhouse) – A UNESCO Heritage Site
Jon-Lars Hälsingegårdar is  a magnificent decorated farmhouse in Långhed near Alfta in Hälsingland
Hamra National Park and Bortom Åa – A UNESCO Heritage Site
Things to do in Hälsingland
Things to do  in Stockholm

and a little taste of Sweden in London The Bageriet – A fantastic Swedish bakery and cafe near Covent Garden in London

São Vicente, Lisbon – churches, shopping and hidden restaurants

Lisbon is a city best explored on foot and the narrow, cobbled streets of the old quarters surrounding the Castelo de São Jorge are fascinating.  After we visited the castle, we spent the day exploring these old neighbourhoods and adored the laid back vibe of São Vicente.  We were bedazzled by its churches and the pretty square of Campo de Santa Clara.  We had fun searching for hidden treasures at the old antique markets, Feira da Ladra; and loved trying new dishes in the neighbourhood restaurants.  We ended our visit by wandering up into Graça to watch the sun set over the city from the O Miradouro da Senhora do Monte viewpoint.

In the bairro of São Vicente the ancient streets are lined with neighbourhood shops, traditional workshops and colourful houses with the old style tiled roofs.  Many still have the traditionally iron clad balconies full of flowers and washing, which gives São Vicente a residential feel and strong sense of community.  

Rising above these narrow streets is one of Lisbon’s most magnificent churches, the Igreja e Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora (The church and monastery of Saint Vincent). The Igreja e Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora has an impressive Italian Renaissance facade with two ornate towers that house status of the saints.  It is well worth going inside; the interior has a barrel vaulted ceiling and a Baroque altar by the Portuguese sculptor Joaquim Machado de Castro.  Over in the monastery is a superb collection of the blue and

Tiled Panels in the Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora
Tiled Panels in the Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora

white Portuguese tiles depicting scenes from Portuguese history.  In the cloisters are more tiled panels, which tell the tales by the French poet Jean de la Fontaine.  There is also a museum here, which documents the history of Lisbon and has a permanent collection of paintings, sculptures, jewellery and vestments.  Finally before you leave, climb the stairs to the rooftop to see the fantastic views of the city and River Tejo.

Nearby is the Feira da Ladra (the thieves market), this market is a treasure trove for antiques and bric-a-brac. The market is only open on Tuesdays and Saturdays; but it is worth passing by any day of the week just to visit the square and garden of Campo de Santa Clara.  This is a pleasant spot with a handful of charming neighbourhood cafes and bars, all with fantastic views towards the sea.  All this makes it a lovely place to have a drink and enjoy a lazy afternoon in the sun.

From the Campo de Santa Clara it is an easy walk up to the Castelo de São Jorge and the bairro of Graça.  On the way is the tiny little cafe restaurant GatoPardo (see below for details).  This is a fantastic “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant, typical of the area which serves up a wonderful selection of Portuguese and Mediterranean inspired dishes using garden fresh produce.  It is a neighbourhood restaurant in the truest sense and a real gem.

Alternatively walk down into Baixa or the sea front via Alfama; and if you are walking through Alfama don’t miss the National Pantheon (Panteão Nacional), which is just a few moments from Campo de Santa Clara.

Practical information:

The Igreja e Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora sits on Arco Grande de Cima.  The monastery is to the right of the church in Largo de São Vicente.  Admission to the church is free; The monastery and museum has a small entrance fee and is open every day.  The traditional wooden Tram 28 stops close by at the Feira da Ladra (the thieves market).  

Feira da Ladra (the thieves market) is on Campo de Santa Clara and is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays.  

GatoPardo is on Rua São Vicente for more information visit their Facebook page:    https://pt-br.facebook.com/BistroBrechoGatoPardo/

Photography and Credits:  All photography in this post is the property of LisbonLux.com. LisbonLux have generously given their permission for the use of their photography on this site.  LisbonLux is an independent blog and one of the best city guides to Lisbon on the web.  For more information about Lisbon visit:  www.lisbonlux.com

Graça has the best viewpoint to watch the sunset in Lisbon …. and much more

If you are visiting Lisbon put some time aside to visit the Castelo de São Jorge and explore the neighbouring bairros of Alfama, Graça and São Vicente.  These are Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhoods and sit on Lisbon’s tallest hill. Lisbon is built on seven hills and there are impressive views all over the city.  One of the best, which features in every guidebook, is from the Castelo de São Jorge, however continue into the bairro of Graça and you will leave the crowds behind and find a number of other breathtaking viewpoints.  In fact many locals considered O Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen (which the locals call O Miradouro da Graça) and O Miradouro da Senhora do Monte to have the finest views in the whole city.

the Bairro Graça in Lisbon
Traditional street in Graça Lisbon Photography by LisbonLux

Graça still retains its residential feel despite its close proximity to the castle, Lisbon’s main tourist sight.  The area is full of history and it has many of the old villas and palaces that were built by Lisbon’s aristocracy when Portugal was one of Europe’s most powerful nations.  The excellent Portuguese blog post by Carlos Fontes describes the bairro in-depth and suggests a walking route that passes some of Graça’s most interesting buildings, churches and squares; click here to read more.  

The neighbourhood centres around Lago da Graça and Lisbon’s oldest church, the Igreja and Convento da Graça.  The church was built-in 1271 but collapsed after the 1755 earthquake and was rebuilt in a baroque style.  It has an impressive interior, with 16th and 17th century tiles and numerous altars’ dedicated to the different saints which were important to the city and its population at the time.  There is also a beautiful 18th century section dedicated to Senhor dos Passos da Graça, which should not be missed.  Outside is a lovely garden and a terrace with a small cafe which offers yet another view across the city.  From here it is a pleasant walk down towards bairro Baixa and the sea, passing through the bairros of São Vicente and Alfama.  Alternatively catch the famous Tram number 28 from Lago da Graça; a ride of this old style tram is an absolute must when you stay in Lisbon and the blog LisbonLux has an excellent post about the Tram and its route, click here to read more

If you are visiting Graça you certainly will not go hungry or thirsty; its pretty cobble streets are lined with tempting cafes, independent restaurants and neighbourhood shops.  Below are some places we enjoyed, if you have some suggestions you would like to share, please add them using the comments section.

O Botequim de Graça this bar is something of an institution.  It was originally owned by the famous Portuguese writer, Natália Correia, and became a gathering place for artists and intellectuals in the 70s and 80s.  The bar is located in the blue tiled building, Villa Souza, on Largo Graça, not far from the O Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen.  For more information click here:  https://botequim.net/

Via Graca is on Rua Damasceno Monteiro,  this  restaurant has lovely terrace and views.  The menu is modern Portuguese and it has some excellent vegetarian options, which is not always the case in Portugal. For more information visit: http://www.restauranteviagraca.com/

Cafe do Monte, Rua de São Gens, Senhora da Graça – a small local cafe and bar; with great food and that magical mix of traditional old Portuguese style with a touch of modern cool.

Gelateria Miraggio (Ice-cream parlour) on Tv. do Monte which, I am told, is often listed as one of the top 10 Ice-cream parlours in Lisbon.

For more things to do in Lisbon visit our post on Lisbon and for the ultimate insiders guide on Lisbon check out Carlos Fontes 365  things to do in Lisbon:  http://www.filorbis.pt/lisboa/page301Programas.html  This is a must do list from a Lisonite with a passion for his city and its history.

Photography and Credits:  All photography in this post is the property of LisbonLux.  LisbonLux have generously given their permission to Site of Special Things to use their images.  LisbonLux is an independent blog and one of the best independent sources of information about Lisbon.  For more information visit their site:  www.lisbonlux.com

igreja-da-graca copywrite lisbonlux
Igreja and Convento da Graça Image copywrite: Lisbonlux.com

The Culpeper – a hidden rooftop destination in London’s City Fringe

Spread over 4 floors The Culpeper has a little something for everyone.  A great downstairs bar serving modern pub-grub, an upstairs restaurant with an innovative menu based around seasonal produces; a roof terrace with a kitchen garden and greenhouse; and five beautifully furnished rooms.

Pubs with rooms are nothing new but there is a new generation of trendy gastro-pubs that are reimagining this basic concept, upping the quality and making a stay in a pub all the more appealing.  To quote The Culpeper itself, “Our simply furnished and beautifully decorated rooms have been created with the intention of being a place to crash following a meal, for a weekend, or a week on business.”

Originally an old Truman Pub The Culpeper has been lovingly restored into a beautiful modern space.  The renovation has incorporated the building’s original Victorian features to get effect and retained the traditional signage and tiling.  Equal attention has been given to the food, which uses the rooftop produces as much as possible along with seasonally sourced produce from local supplies.  The wine list features natural wines from small growers and cocktails are based on herbs grown on the roof, and changes to reflect the seasons.

The first thing that strikes you about The Culpeper is the spaciousness and all the light.  The ground floor bar and eating area are flooded with natural light thanks to the large Victorian windows that dominate two sides of the building.  The Bar menu is short and offers an excellent selection of pub inspired dishes that change daily and always includes a vegetable-centric option and some light snacks.  From the downstairs dining area there is an elegant staircase that leads up to the first floor restaurant, here the menu is modern and inspired by seasonal produce.  Continuing up are the guest rooms and then the terrace, which operates a bar and hosts barbecues in the warmer months.  The terrace is also home to The Culpeper’s greenhouse and kitchen garden and has fantastic views across the city making it one of the best roof terrace destinations in the area.

To find The Culpeper you need to be brave, it is in London’s City Fringes.  At the currently unfashionable end of Commercial Road in Aldgate; about 10 minutes walk from Old Spitalfields market.  But don’t let that put you off; it is a true little gem in the ever changing area that borders the City of London and the traditional East End.

For more information and reservations visit:  http://www.theculpeper.com

Notes and Credits:  This is an independent review.  Photography is curtsey of The Culpeper website and Google images.

Mona Hatoum’s art is challenging and unnerving. It is also very rewarding.

Mona Hatoum is considered one of the most important artists of her time.  She puts global concerns such as gender, politics and the body under the microscope using unconventional media such as video, installations and video.  The Tate has brought a fantastic show to London that examines her work from the 1980s to modern day.

Through her work Hatoum confronts some of the big injustices of our modern world.  Her art speaks to the individual, asking us to confront our assumptions on big issues, rather than making grandstanding statements to attract the attention of the masses.  Her aim is to engage the viewer, soliciting interpretation and eliciting emotional and physical responses.  Regardless of the theme her work always manages to make us stop and think.  

The exhibition organises her work as a series of ideas side by side, rather than in chronological order, and in so doing emphasises the different ways the artist challenges our assumptions of the world. For me the installations stole the show and Light Sentence (1992) and Impenetrable (2009) particularly stood out.

Light Sentence (1992) occupies a whole room.  It is made up of square wire mesh lockers resembling animal cages with a single light bulb hanging in the middle of the structure.  The installation at first glance is simply intriguing, but the longer one spends in the room the more disoriented and uncertain one feels.  For the room seems to move.  The idea behind the piece is trauma and politics and the title plays on the idea of a lenient term in prison.  It is very disconcerting and very effective.

Impenetrable (2009) is equally intriguing.  From a distance this installation gives the appearance of an ethereal cube suspended in air but as one gets closer the work reveals its menacing aspect.  It is composed of hundreds of barbed wire rods dangling from fishing wire.  It is hostile and threatening evoking associations with conflict, violence, prisons and state authority.  As with many of Hatoum’s works it seems quite innocent initially but is reveals itself to be psychologically charged.

These are typical of Hatoum’s art and clearly demonstrate the most interesting aspect of her work; their effect on the viewer.  They draw you in, play with your perceptions and leave an unsettling feeling.  The exhibition has met with mixed reviews,  however I personally believe it is well worth seeing.
The Mona Hatoum exhibition is currently on at the Tate Modern in London until 21st August 2016.  For more information and tickets visit:  http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern