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Another side of British culture that attracts tourists is the range of visual arts on show.
There are over 300 world-class museums and art galleries just in London. This is Tate Britain – right here, in Millbank. It’s the home of British art from the 1500s right up to the present day – let’s go take a look.
Tate Britain is the world centre for British art. Some of the greatest artists of all time are British and this gallery has them all under one roof.
Tate Britain is one of four Tate galleries across the country, and the oldest. Over the years, it’s been threatened by bombing in the war and flooding from the Thames. There are hundreds of works of art here.
These are some of the earliest paintings in the gallery, including this portrait of Queen Elizabeth the First.
Penelope Curtis is the director of Tate Britain. It’s her job to decide which art pieces are exhibited.
Richard: Penelope, tell me about Tate Britain.
Penelope: Tate Britain is the national gallery of British art. It was founded by Henry Tate about a hundred years ago.
Richard: And what does your role involve?
Penelope: I'm the director, and that means looking after everything, but particularly the collections and the displays that you can see in the gallery.
Richard: And you have some fabulous pictures here, including this very popular one.
Penelope: They say this is our most popular painting. It's hard to know, but it certainly sells the most postcards, but that's rather an old-fashioned measure.
Richard: What is it about British art that's so exciting?
Penelope: Well, what's particular about British art is that we're an island nation, so things become very concentrated here. People travel from all over the world to be here; other people never leave at all, so things that you might see in the rest of the world become more concentrated in Britain.
Richard: What's the future of British art and creativity?
Penelope: I think the fact that we don't know is what's exciting about it. Here, we can make history speak to the present and inform what people are doing now, and that's one of our important roles.
And the future of British art is bold and exciting.
Artistic creativity in Great Britain isn’t always found at museums or galleries; sometimes it’s worth taking a closer look at the walls around the city.
Street art used to be a form of protest and was often painted over by the authorities. These days it’s a celebrated art form. Some pieces are worth a fortune.
Another art form that is booming in Britain is building computer games.
The UK produces more than a quarter of the world’s computer games and independent developer Blitz Games Studios here in Leamington Spa has created some top sellers. Popular games like Puss in Boots, Karaoke Revolution and The Biggest Loser are developed here. Blitz Games Studios have a passion for games, technology and creativity.
Philip Oliver is a game developer and set up Blitz Games Studios with his brother.
Richard: Philip, how did this all start?
Philip: My twin brother and I, Andrew, started playing video games in the early eighties. We got ourselves an 8-bit computer and started writing games just as a hobby but, by the mid-eighties, we were actually able to sell games. We set up Blitz Games Studios and started employing people with the idea we would make games for a global audience, and today we have over 220 talented, creative people making video games for all the biggest publishers in the world.
Richard: What makes games development so creative?
Philip: Games are just a fantastic medium. I'm sorry, but I'm absolutely hooked, and I hope so many other people are. We are the entertainment of the twenty-first century. There are no limits.
Do you know, when it comes to computer games, I don’t think I'm very good at building them. I'm much better at playing them. Yes! Come on! Go up, up, up, up! Get the star! Go on! Go – Oh, no, no, ah.
Have you been to any famous art galleries? What kind of art do you like?