Monday, 24 August 2009

Cultural Overload in the City

I've just come back from a fantastic 48 hours spent in London. Nick & I planned a hectic schedule (actually in fairness, I decided what, when & where, & Nick happily agreed). Okay we stayed with my in laws which was interesting but hey it was free accommodation haha. On the first day, I wanted to make a small pilgrimage to the place I was born, Whittington's hospital and especially to see the statue of the cat. There's a picture of me age 5 standing next to it & I wanted an updated photo. So here it is. In fact we nearly walked passed it. We were expecting it to be on a quiet street instead of an the edge of the busy main road.

The next stop was to see Roger Hiorns "Seizure" which was round the corner from the Elephant & Castle. A run down block of flats where one room was filled with copper sulphate and left to form large sparkling blue crystals. It's a stunning work of contrasts. Sparkle against grime. Rich blue with dank grey. Best of all, it's free.

After that high art fix, we carried on to the Hayward Gallery to see the exhibition "Walking in My Mind". Huge artistic installations. Each one took almost a room to fill. This picture is of the most publicised installation. Outdoors there were giant blobs in red & white polka dots. inside they were giant inflatables. You felt like a child walking around these giant shapes.

A brisk walk up to Big Ben, Downing Street and onto Trafalgar square took us to our next cultural point. Anthony Gormley's Plinth. We watched a young woman write/draw on paper, roll it up, place in a balloon and release to the crowd. Then on the hour, a cherry picker came along and dropped off the next exhibit, an Australian guy, and returning the woman to the ground.

The next day we started out at the Cartoon Museum which had some fascinating machines made up from recycled objects. Not as spectacular as the exhibits from yesterday but well worth a visit. So we toddled off to Hyde Park to go see Diana's Memorial which on this hot sunny day was packed with young families and couples. We joined them in taking off our shoes & socks and feeling the icy water cooling our hot tired feet.

Fully refreshed we went on to the Serpentine Gallery which is just across the road and also free. Outside is a magnificent roof of reflective polished metal. Its almost like a skate rink.

In the Gallery itself are installations by the acclaimed artist, Jeff Koons. His collage pieces were nothing to write home about but it was his sculptures which stole the show. They look like blow up beach inflatables. But they're actually made from aluminium which has been painted. You weren't allowed to touch but oh it was so tempting.

Finally the V&A. This awesome glass sculpture is about 4-5 metres in length and dangles from the ceiling above you.
Its stunning but the real treat is the current exhibition on contemporary design, Telling Tales. I recommend this highly. Again it's free and its incredibly inspiring. Half the objects on display are on the theme of fairy tales. Magical wardrobes built of leaves, chairs for princesses and marble tables. At the back, there is a room that is painted black with no light. You look through panels to see the art. A fox with gold maggots in its ears, slippers made from moles, a sensory deprivation chamber shaped like a skull and a panic room which could double as a coffin. Wonderfully wicked and dark.

So there you have it, a fantastic couple of days. Feet are throbbing, legs are aching but culturally, spiritually and artistically refreshed.


Anonymous said...

Great photos and description, Paul - a wonderful read. :) xx alexa

Michele said...

Looks like you had a great time, Paul. Fab photos - you certainly packed a lot into the weekend! x