Welcome to my first blog post ever!!!
I am back in The Burren, and wanted to share my recent adventures in London with everybody.
First off I would like to say that I wish that my school could be magically transported to the middle of London. Because I miss being in a city, and London is one of the best!
Prior to our trip as part of my TA credit I researched all the art shows happening in London during our visit. For those of you who are not involved in the art world, London is one of the great art capitols of the world.
Beyond it’s many museums (most free!) it must have around 200 + galleries which carry world-class artists. So as you can imagine the research was a giant task, but gave me a great insight into what was on and where I wanted to go.
We left our homes in Ballyvaughan at 3:30 am and arrived at our hotel in Earl’s Court at 9:30. From there we grabbed a quit bite (and the first of many many pints), then set off for the The Tate Modern. At this point I realized that I had forgotten to put a card in my camera so spent the entire day photo-less. It was VERY frustrating for me!!!
I saw a great show at the Tate Modern -there was a career retrospective of Louise Bourgeois. She is now in her 80’s so this was a huge show. She’s probably best known for her genitalia-like sculptures, which I’ve never really been that into. But this show included her earlier prints and more recent “cells” -stunningly beautiful environments with glass objects, domestic items, wax sculptures, and text. It was one of the best shows I have ever seen.
After the Tate Modern about a third of the group decided to go straight out to “First Thursday”. Which is just like the one in Seattle, but with about 80 galleries and world-class art. I had focused most of my research on this – it was mainly in one area and supposed to be like a giant street party event. So when I presented this information to the students many had gotten excited about going.
Attending this was supposed to be an independent event if we wanted to go. Unfortunately, our independence was trampled, and we were lead on a fruitless search for art (not by me). Our leader had resided in London years ago and went on his former personal knowledge rather than any research (and obviously ignored all of the research I had done).
After it became clear what was up all of the students were furious, we had all assumed that we were going to the places I had learned about.
At this point I approached our leader and said that I was leaving to go to some of the places that I had researched. He had the gall to make me call them and make sure they were open. After I had spent 2 1/2 weeks researching -and I am a very thorough researcher! I was also asked to find out if anyone else wished to go with me, which they all did. So then my plan was co-opted by our leader.
We didn’t get very far because we walked past a yummy smelling Vietnamese restaurant. So we stopped and had an amazing dinner, it was some of the best Vietnamese I’ve ever had and super cheap (rare in London)! After that we were all exhausted and decided to go back to the hotel. The only thing that saved the evening from being a total waste of time was the food.
The next day I got up early and went to McDonald’s for a sausage mcmuffin. Say what you want, but those are good. And if you’ve ever had an Irish sausage (except black which is good) you will understand why I wanted one.
Then we went to The Tate Britain. I had never been to it and loved it. I really enjoy museums with older artwork, I love that whole atmosphere. This one was especially nice for me because pre-raphaelite art is a favorite of mine, and they probably have one of the best collections of it in the world. I think one of the reasons I like pre-raphaelite art so much is because I’ve always thought my Mom looked like she could have been a model for them. So I had a lovely time wandering around the museum looking at Rossetti’s and Hunt’s and Millais’. Yay!
After the Tate we went to The Hayward Gallery which is near the Eye. Our entire group got separated crossing the bridge by the Houses of Parliament. Which was great because I get sick of moving in a giant pack! I ended up with all of the Irish mfa’s. Two older 2nd years and one 1st year in her early 30’s. We decided not to rush and instead went for Japanese food. Which was just as yummy as my Vietnamese the night before!!! And I had an Asahi, yay for light bubbly beer!!
Then we wandered over to The Hayward (not free) and saw a really great show of paintings inspired by or from photographs. It was wonderful to see, as an undergraduate it was strictly forbidden to paint from photographs – but here it is considered a very valid source, it’s the meaning that matters. My fellow UW students would find this blasphemous. I think this sort of thing may be one of the reasons I am having a hard time painting here, but this show really inspired me and has shown me a way to work out my ideas for next semester.
We ran into all of the other students at the show, but decided to sneak off and go to Covent Gardens to immerse ourselves in tourist London. First we went to a pub, then were wandering around and I found a Cornish pasty shop. You can’t imagine how happy this made me!!! So I bought two classic pasties, and immediately ate 1/2 of one (I was going out to dinner so had to be moderate). It was so good! The best non-Driscoll pasty I’ve had yet! Then I wandered back to the hotel because I had plans for dinner.
I met Sarah and Bruno (my brother-in-law Peter’s sister and her husband) at The Trocadero, a restaurant near my hotel which Bruno knew of. It was really nice to meet with people who I know and have family in common with. I had a really great evening with them. I had like them when I had met them before, but it had always been in a family context. This time it was really fun and friendly and I totally enjoyed the conversations we had.
The next day I had a delicious cold pasty for breakfast, which was a good indication of the sort of day I was going to have. I think that Saturday may have been one of the single greatest days I have ever had. Upon meeting the group I let the Dean know that I was not going to the National Photographers Gallery as he had planned for us to do
I knew that the shows there were below the level of the photography shows that were on as a part of Photomonth in the East End. Many of the galleries I had planned upon visiting as part of First Thursday were participating so I said I was going back to the East End to the shows I wanted to see.
Then as it turned out another professor, Tom, had decided to sneak off and do just that as well. So he and I and 4 other students (Shannalia, Chris, Kenny, and Erinn -all photographers) set off.
The first place we went was The White Chapel gallery. There was a really cool show on there. It was called Osama Bin Laden’s House. It was a video game projection of the house where Osama lived before 9/11. Before it was a joystick which you could use to navigate around the house.
It was really fun to do because you would fall off ledges and bounce off walls. Then it would strike you that you were enjoying doing this in a replica of the place where 9/11 was probably planned. Then you would realize there probably is a video game like this out there, and get upset about the state of our world. It was a strange and moving piece.
We went to a few galleries and stopped at a coffee/ surf shop, then we wandered back to the square from Thursday night and sat outside and had more Asian food. This time I had shezuan noodles and hot sake. It was nice and bright and crisp out so the hot sake was perfect.
We wandered around into some weird little shops. Then Tom let me take over because he saw my notes and maps with my crazy obsessive cross-referencing all over them.
I took us to about 6 photo shows, 1 sculpture, and 1 drawing show. It was great, the shows didn’t disappoint at all. I think that this was the best art I saw the whole trip.
And the photographers were all happy because I was able to tailor the tour to them.
Finally we went to a little street market and a pub and then all split off to do different things for the evening.
For all of you non-artists, going to small galleries and seeing great shows is a really fulfilling thing for artists to do. It gives us examples of what’s happening outside of our little circle, -shows us what trends seem to be developing. It also gives us something to work toward. It’s highly unlikely any our work will ever make it into a museum -especially before we are old or dead. But we can hope to become recognized by a gallery and get shown in that format. It lets us recognize the difference in gallery quality, and also gives us presentation ideas.
After we all broke up, I went with my friend Shannalia to the Shepherd’s Bush area where many of the students had found a really cool bar with a great happy hour. We were supposed to meet her roommate Brian there around 6.
He wasn’t there so we found a Lebanese restaurant where we ate dinner. The entire rest of the restaurant besides us was a Lebanese wedding reception, so it was fun watching them sing and toast to the couple. And this was probably the best meal I’ve had since leaving Seattle. I love Middle Eastern food and this topped all I have had prior to that night. So our evening was continuing in the same fabulous vein as our day.
We went back to the bar and found Brian. They were right about this bar, it was really great. I got super happy because they had Gosling Rum, so I taught them how to make me a Dark and Stormy! Then over the next hour or so all of the students straggled in. The place had an amazing DJ, and we danced for a little bit. Then they all decided to head to a nearby dance club which looked horrid once we got there so we wandered over to another bar and then back to the hotel.
Our last day we got to do whatever we wanted. I decided to go to the Imperial War Museum with Tom, Chris, and Kenny because there was a show on the development of camouflage and another one on war posters which I was interested in.
If you ever go to London you should visit this museum. It is really well set up and curated. And it does not emphasize the military glory of Britain like you would think. It does have military vehicles on display, but the emphasis of the museum has shifted to the reality of war and the impact it has on people. I was really impressed.
After that I went off on my own to visit my favorite room in the world -The Hall of Casts in the Victoria and Albert Museum. I was arted-out so I didn’t go into the rest of the museum, but I love the room with the plaster casts of great art from around Europe. It’s really cool to wander next to the cut in half Trajan’s Column and around the Gothic archways. I find it very relaxing.
I was only in there for about a 1/2 hour then I wandered up and down the shopping street where I found a great French pastry shop. Then I took myself out for Italian food for lunch.
After that it was time to head back to the hotel and go home.
Since returning I have been re-inspired to work. I am now working on my installation/ performance piece that I have mentioned to many of you. Thank you so much to everyone who responded with music they associate with me. It was really interesting and very helpful. I will post more about this project when it is finished.
I am also in the process of planning my holidays. They’ve been scaled back a lot because of money (lack of it), but I will be able to escape for a little bit. I am planning on starting part of my next semester’s work over the break by writing “The Monkey Manifesto”.
Keep in touch!