Monday, August 18, 2014

On the road again: London, day 10
WorldCon, day 5

The convention wrapped up today with some morning and early afternoon programming.  I left the con hotel and headed back to my favorite one in London proper; I like staying where I know the area and much is within a mile or two on foot. 

I spent the heart of the afternoon at the Tate Britain, enjoying both the parts of its normal collection on display and its British Folk Art exhibit. 

The museum had given several of its large rooms to a commission it had made to Phyllida Barlow.  Just about all of it, including this example, left me cold and uncaring. 

Click an image to see a larger version.

I do not doubt that there is more to this sort of art than I appreciate, but at times viewing it I cannot help but wondering if I'm being put on a bit. 

On a brighter note, though I did not previously know the work of Ralph Peacock, this portrait, Ethel,

and other pieces of his on display, such as this one, The Sisters,

 made me determined to see more.

The Tate Britain also turned me into a lover of rich blue walls for galleries; check out how awesome this room looks.

The British Folk Art exhibition fell physically in about the middle of my time at the museum, so I went with the flow and hit it then.  Most of it left me cold, intellectually interested but not otherwise engaged.  A few pieces, however, intrigued me.  One was the collection whose unknown artist had named God in a Bottle.

Both the title and the pieces made me want to start writing a story of the same name.

I was also touched by this Walter Greaves seascape, Nocturne in Blue and Gold.

(Sorry about my reflection in the painting's glass cover.)  I don't know Greaves' work, but if the museum's signs are correct, he was a primitive artist whose work grew immensely in quality when he started studying with Whistler.

Several pieces of prisoner-of-war art were on display; this one caught my fancy.

I had never thought of POW art as a sub-genre of folk art, but it makes great sense. 

Mary Linnell was also an intriguing folk artist, a woman who made pieces in fabric and tended to copy classic compositions.  Here we have her self portrait.

Her work was once popular but did not fit the canon, both because of her materials and her copying of the poses of others, so it sort of fell between the artistic cracks.  I can't say I particularly liked it, but it did make me think about classifications and the ways we measure originality in the arts. 

Back in the museum proper, I spent a fair amount of time enjoying this Gainsborough, Wooded Landscape with a Peasant Resting

And this one, Sunset:  Carthorses Drinking at a Stream.

I feel obliged to note at this point that the remaining blog posts for this trip will be rather short, because I'm blowing it out on this one.

Two other artists who were new to me but whose work I now plan to seek are Joseph Wright of Derby, whose An Iron Forge

I found intriguing for its use of light, and the unfortunately named Marmaduke Cradock, whose A Peacock and Other Birds in a Landscape

caught my eye. 

This Constable sketch for Hadleigh Castle was as lovely to me as many of his finished works. 

Then the exhibits hit the Pre-Raphaelite era, and I, of course, swooned at the art.  I know it's sappy and romantic of me, but I absolutely love the art from several of these folks. 

Please ignore the lights reflected in this gorgeous Frederic Leighton, The Bath of Psyche

I'm running out of steam--it's very late here--but I cannot stop without showing you this lovely piece from perhaps my favorite of the wild men of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB), Dante Gabriel Rosetti. 

Called Aurelia (Fazio's Mistress), it is romantic and lovely, more in person than this photo can ever suggest. 

Rosetti didn't just start painting this way, of course.  He grew with experience.  I was thrilled to get to see the first oil painting he completed, The Girlhood of Mary Virgin.

It was also the first to carry the PRB notice.

I apologize in advance for the light reflection you're about to see, but I do not know how many times I have studied photos of Rosetti's Proserpine, and here it was in person.

I am skipping so many more great paintings by many other wonderful artists, but I can't pass by Rosetti's Woman in Yellow.

I also have to include one from the delightful Lawrence Alma-Tadema, A Favourite Custom.

And then there was the entire room of original work from William Blake--a fraction of the museum's Blake collection, but still a wonder to behold.  I have long found Blake fascinating, a man so tortured by his faith--and lack thereof--that he could never find peace.  This piece, The Inscription Over the Gate, from his Dante series

was particularly arresting, an odd blend of colors and poses that made me stop and study it for a bit.

After the museum, I worked for a while and then went to see Skylight, the David Hare play, starring Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan. 

On the walk to the theatre, I encountered an admonition some would find useful

and a new organic ice cream shop, from which I enjoyed a small cup of mango ice cream.  I offer this photo of the front of the cup by way of endorsement, for the ice cream was good. 

The slogan on the bottom of the cup's rear simply charmed me.

The play was powerful and engaging, with all three cast members excellent.  Nighy, one of my favorite movie character actors, here was a prowling, raging, hyper-kinetic lead man.  Mulligan, whose film work has always underwhelmed me, turned in an amazing performance as a still but strong presence whose eruptions were all the more powerful for her normally calm demeanor.  I have a huge, new-found respect for her talent.

All that said, the play was ultimately emotionally unsatisfying, far more successful as economic commentary than as an inquiry into the human condition.  I enjoyed it, but I wanted a stronger ending. 

Dinner was at an interesting fusion place whose name says it all, Asia de Cuba.  Perhaps I'll show some of its dishes in a later blog, but suffice to say that if the name at all intrigues you, you should absolutely check it out.

On the walk back to the hotel, I encountered a bit of unintentional comedy in this sign in the window of a hair-cutting place.

I thought I understood what a "BRAZILIAN" was in the context of such an establishment, and I also thought I understood what "BLOWDRY" meant in the same context, but it never occurred to me to put the two words together.  The mind boggles.  Don't even get me started on how there can ever be highlights from only half head.

And so I laughed my way back to the hotel and some hours of work.

Tomorrow marks my last full day in London, and I have no daytime plans, save to sleep quite late given how very late I am getting to bed.


old aggie said...

The Barlow piece reminds me of this work of "art" that we science students had to walk by every day at Kent State in the 1970s:
It always struck me as the ideal place for muggers to lie in wait after dark - very creepy.
It took years, but the university finally managed to have it demolished; the parking lot that replaced it is much more useful and attractive, IMO.
(P.S. - Re-reading "Slanted Jack" now. :-)

Mark said...

I can see the resemblance.

I hope you enjoy the book all over again!


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