Saturday, September 24, 2005

Wandering in London - Day 2

For our second day in London, we bought a new kind of train ticket. Instead of getting a return ticket to Sevenoaks, we bought a ticket that was good for both the train to and from London and for the tube (subway). That meant that we could wander about London on the subway system as we chose. Actually, we did not wander too much as we had only two stops on our agenda. The first was the Victoria and Albert Museum. Although both Églantine and I have been lucky enough to have had several trips to London and visited many of the museums, this was one that we both had missed. I thought there was probably a reason I had missed it and was not sure I wanted to go but went anyway and had a wonderful time. Again, we could easily have spent all day and still missed much but on this occasion we set a time limit as Églantine wanted to go to the National Portrait Gallery too. So, into the V&A we went and found, to our delight, that photos were allowed in all but one room. Sculptures, iron works, and glass made up the most of the 100+ photos that we took on day 2. Following are a very few examples of each:

This glass piece hung above the main entrance to the museum. I did not find the dimensions but, having just checked the V&A Website, I just found out the name of the artist: Dale Chihuly.

There were two types of sculptures in the V&A. There were originals and there were copies. Michelangelo's David was a plaster copy; however, one could photograph the copy while it was forbidden to photograph the original in Florence, Italy. The V&A had many other famous sculptures as plaster copies but the most amazing, in my opinion, was a plaster cast of the 30 metre (100 foot) tall copy of Trajan's column from Rome. (Since this copy has been inside the museum for year, it is probably in much better condition than the original that has been standing outside in acid rain for years!)

Imagine taking your bags of plaster down to Rome to make a copy of a 30 metre column.... It boggles my mind. At least they broke it up into two parts.

This Buddha was an original.

This sculpture of an old man was a favourite of Églantine. (She has it on her Flicker site in different colours.) I have no idea if this was an original or a copy but it was well protected behind glass.

Speaking of glass...

I really liked this glass table. I have no idea how the artist got the lights to work.

I think this piece was called Daisy Seed. It was a favourite of both Églantine and I.

The other section of the museum where we spent time and took many photos was the iron section. The iron works were from various periods of time from ancient to modern. Below are several of our favourites:

We managed to get out of the V&A by 3:00 p.m. for a very late lunch at a place near Covent Gardens Market called Bistro 1. Our Sevenoaks friend told us it was the best meal in London for an inexpensive price. It lived up to its reputation.

After our late lunch, we went to the National Portrait Gallery. Portraits, in general, do not excite me much but I did find the more contemporary portraits of interest and even bought a book of them. Again, cameras were not to be used, but the NPG does offer CD's of many of their portraits and many are available, in a small format, to see on line. On of the neat contemporary portraits that we enjoyed was that of JK Rowling. Photographs do not do it justice as it was a 3-D construction with great perspective and with lights inside the picture to create wonderful shadows and light on Ms Rowling.

It was another late afternoon train ride back to Sevenoaks.


Lené Gary said...

Thanks for the art tour. That glass art in the beginning of the post was just amazing! I could hear my friend saying "That's bad feng shui," when you mentioned that it hangs over the Main entrance. :)

Crowe said...

Fascinating stuff. The light-filled glass table is wonderful.

As you were staying in Sevenoaks, I'm now waiting in anticipation to find out if you visited Vita Sackville-West's old home at Knole Castle. I remember going there with my grandpa when I was little.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Chihuly. No modern museum is complete without some of his glasswork. I really like glass art, and L and I went to Seattle specifically to go to the Glass Museum there. (Disappointment.) I have decided that I must have one of those glass tables with the lights in it.

I don't lean toward portraiture much either, but when I've had guided tours of the things, the docents always point out so much that I miss. Apparently, in a good portrait anyway, there is no detail of the background that is not in some way contributing to the theme of the portrait. (Much like literature.) An example that comes to mind is the famous portrait of Paul Revere. Even the shirt he is wearing was a rebel political statement. Apparently that type of fabric was forbidden to the colonists, so he had his portrait done wearing such a shirt to show that he wasn't going to be pushed around. That kind of detail in a portrait makes me begin to see an otherwise ho-hum painting in a completely new way.

Ontario Wanderer said...

Glad you liked the art tour L. Yes the glass art was amazing and you will notice that all of my photos were from the side and not underneath.

Sorry, SGJ, we did not visit, or know about Knole Castle. Perhaps next time? I was interested to learn, from the internet, that V.S-W was inspiration for "Orlando." I've read "Orlando" twice and still am not sure I like it. I enjoyed "The Waves" more.

P, You are ahead of me on knowledge of Chihuly although I suspect that he was the artist behind the glass work we saw either in Topeka or Lawrence the last time we wandered in Kansas. (If I don't keep notes I can't remember anything these days and then some days I can't find my notes.)

Anonymous said...

i stumbled upon your page, which has a really cool picture of glass with lights in it. i thought you might find the article above interesting. i had google translate it from german to english for you

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