This tour was a long time coming; originally planned for 2020, it was worth the wait. We started in the dark, early hours of the Friday before half term, when our minibus drove us to Gatwick for an Easyjet flight to Berlin’s new Brandenburg airport. Berlin’s strict Covid policies required two students to be tested everyday and the first of these was in the airport when we arrived.
Writing this a few days after we returned, one of my most enduring memories is of the early morning sunlight as Sophie, Esme and I walked towards their daily Covid test before the others were even down for breakfast. The weather was wonderful throughout the tour: fresh and crisp with the often austere Berlin architecture lit by a low lying winter sun. Not that we spent much time outside, as we visited 10 museums and galleries in our four and half days.
One of the most memorable was the Kathe Kollwitz Museum which we visited on our first afternoon. Kollwitz’s powerful and moving graphic work – prints, drawings and late sculpture – had us quickly into gallery mode, with students looking and sketching in earnest.
Our days began with breakfast at the hostel before setting off to the nearby U-Bahn or S-Bahn station and our first gallery. The work we saw varied from 19th Century realism, through C20th German Expressionism, Dada and Surrealism. From collage, through painting, sculpture and photography there was something for everyone. The contemporary work at the Daimler Collection and photography at C/O Berlin were amongst the most striking and challenging to our ideas about what art can and should be. Cranleighan’s were focussed and engaged by what they saw. Spotting staff look-alikes in the C19th paintings of the Alte Nationalgalerie kept everyone amused, while discussions about meaning and purpose kept us engaged at Berlin’s equivalent of Tate Modern, the Hamburger Bahnhof.
Although FFP2 masked for much of the time, we were able to enjoy each other’s company at the hostel bar, easing in a visit to an escape room, travelling up Europe’s fastest lift to the top of Kollhoff-Tower near Potsdamer Platz for amazing sunset views, shopping in two of Berlin’s malls or just walking the streets between the galleries.
It was a memorable trip for all the right reasons – immersed in art and the city we gained so much – I hope the photographs give a flavour of our time away. With thanks to Ms Hellberg and Mr Kinnersly for their support and companionship.