Friday, August 22, 2008

London - my city of culture.

If you are going to read all of this you may need a cup of tea and a box of favourite chocolates, its rather a long entry.

Hyde Park photos

(as always click on all photos to enlarge)

I know that Liverpool has been voted that title, city of culture 2008, but today I have been overpowered by the joy of visiting London. This was a day I had promised to myself, "doing" some galleries. A day just for me... no children.. no friends.. no family... just me! Yesterday it seemed a rather selfish notion and I nearly had to cancel due to husbands ill health. The journey to London was by coach, with Marvelous views of all the sights.. here is a composite of Knightsbridge and Piccadilly.

from L to R----View down Knightsbridge, Burlington Arcade, Harrods, Harrods shop window, Royal Academy and Harvey Nichols shop window.
and the first drop off was the National Gallery

It had just opened and was fairly quiet as you can see.

I started my exploration of the National Gallery in the Sainsbury wing and greeted the Wilton Diptych like a long lost friend. ( I do not wish to infringe copyright, so if you click on the highlighted words you see will images of the paintings I am talking about) I am always astonished at the brilliance of the blue against the gold and how small the piece is. Then into another room to find my other Friend The Arnolfini Portrait I have seen this lots of time, but again it is the colour and composition which enthrals, and all the tiny symbolic motifs to be found by close study.

Then I just had to see Turners work again... the colours in the Fighting Temeraire, never ceases to enthrall me and a note on the gallery wall tells me it is the favourite of the nation, that's no surprise to me.
Another painting I always have to re-visit is Constables rendition of Salisbury Cathedral and I know Turner painted this too. Interestingly most visitors graft towards the Haywain, These 2 painting are huge and are well hung in the room at the Gallery.

It was impossible to get close to the Ambassadors, seemed to be a number of guided tours in Spanish today, but that's OK, I can always look another day. I did however have a chance to look at Corbets Still Life, Apples with a pomegranate in detail. It was an example I often used with my year 9 students when we looked at Still Life painting, and usually I trawled a friend's Orchard for fallen apples as our source. Must admit, the apples became rather brown and manky... so were ideal for drawing and painting. I suspect Corbets may well have been close to the same level of decay!

The rooms with Van Gogh, Monet, Manet etc Paintings were very busy with tourists, and so I thought after a cup of tea, I would venture to the National Portrait Galllery, just around the corner. However as I was leaving the Gallery, I noticed a lot of activity outside around Trafalgar Square and decided to stay and watch. It was the Trafalgar Square Festival and from the steps of the National Gallery I had a wonderful view of the dance of London. The big screen is a wonderful idea, but not sure what the lions think about it.

I spent so long enjoying the performance, that there was no chance to get to the Portrait Gallery it was time for the coach to pick us up again and take us to Tate Britain for the Afternoon.

First exhibition I decided to look at was" Drawn from the Collection" and I was not disappointed. An excellent thought through exhibition, which really got me thinking about drawing and recording what I see. Tracey Emins were mostly angry words, and the Great Masters were represented with some wonderful detailed observations. I was amazes at how small in size some of Turners drawings were. Some of the fantasy and detailed drawings reminded me of some of the talented male students I had taught through the years....... truly inspirational. My next rooms to visit were Turners work, and then up the stairs to the Colour and Line exhibition
and an amazing interactive display. I had hope the bookshop would have some reference material/booklet for it, but alas no, so I was pleased to find this online. A truly informative and must see Exhibition. Going back to his dedicated Gallery rooms and seeing his large canvases was even more enjoyable after the colour and line.

I then decided I wanted to see modern work, so I looked at the Victor Pasmore room, here I was enthralled by the variety and scale and media used, and have to say I really enjoyed his abstract work.

Next to the collage and montage room. something I do a lot of as a textile artist.. perhaps in the future textile artist will be better represented in this room, certainly I have seen more thought provoking quilts than Tracey Emins... however I am grateful to Tracey for heavily influencing one of my A level students 2 years ago into producing a significant body of work. I think this is something artists often forget nowadays, the influence and inspiration to the next generation of artists that they engender.

For me though Kurt Schwitters was favourite. Richard Hamiltons room is worth a mention. It was good to see a variety of his work. I am used to seeing one of his works quite regularly at the Swindon Art Gallery, Swindon have a wonderful and large collection of 2oth Century art, but no where to display it. The gallery is tiny and poorly funded. Such a shame. Refering to my notes and sketches, I see I was also drawn to the Tudor and Stuart portraits having an avid curiosity to see the patterns of blackwork and embroidery on their costumes.

It seemed no time at all before I had to return to wait for the coach,
I had planned to take a short walk along the embankment, but ran out of time as I made the acquaintance of a fellow teacher from Waltham Forest who teaches the 18-25 year olds. We were chatting outside the Tate and then suddenly my coach arrived to take me home.

Then inspired by all the visual recording I had seen, I decide to use my camera to record London scenes.
So for all you window addicts out there here is a photo collage for you

Of course if I were very rich I could have stayed Park Lane.

or maybe hitch hike a lift home with them.

So glad I do not live at Number 10...the neighbours are not very considerate, look at all that building work, no wonder the PM is on holiday.
A wonderful day out, but it was good to be home again.

Its late summer Bank Holiday weekend here in England, wonder what we can do?


jordiw said...

What a wonderful day. I am glad you just up and did it in spite of other pulls on your time. It is that feeding the eye, mind and soul thing that we tend to forget is important. Love the pictures. I need to do a trip to the Met .... hmmm. We have a long weekend next weekend Thanks for the inspiration

Julie said...

Thank you for a great post Maggie and for reminding me of all the fantastic information at the Tate website. You certainly packed a lot into your day. Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend.