Yesterday I had a day off – a proper day off: no working and limited thinking about work, no running of errands or loafing around at home, but a day out in that London.
In the course of the day, I think I managed to cover the full pantheon of muses – I bagged the lot! I took in two art galleries, serious(ish) theatre and chamber music. My theatrical and musical experiences I will cover in later posts, so this post will just have to cover the art.
I started by visiting the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. I’m a friend of the RA (not the cheapest of my friendships, I’ll admit) and so can get in for free – or at least at zero incremental cost. At one point, I went to the Summer Exhibition previews every year – but stopped as I was (a) finding them very samey and (b) kept forgetting the date and/or mis-laying my ticket. After a break, this year’s seemed rather different and significantly more interesting than before (to me at least). There was the usual packed crowd in the Small Weston room viewing the non-threatening art (NTA) which always seems to sell the best (and would make excellent lid-art for a biscuit tin), but whilst often “pretty” isn’t all that interesting. Elsewhere, there seemed rather more room to manoeuvre and more stimulating stuff than in previous years (perhaps my taste is coming into fashion? Well, it could happen…), as well as the usual less explicable efforts (or complete messes as I would call them – or perhaps this is where the art crosses my NTA-threshold?).
In the occasional celebrity encounter thread for which this blog is justly famed, whilst at the RA I kept bumping into Andrew Marr (which I think is as close to Heat magazine as I’ve yet achieved). In line with previous experience, he’s rather smaller than I expected and his ears were, frankly, a disappointment (I am forced to wonder if he wears false ears for his TV appearances).
After the excitement of the theatre, it was but a hop, a skip and a jump (though I walked, briskly) to pop into Tate Modern. In the early nineties, I used to work in an office overlooking the Bankside power station (as it was then). It would seem that Bankside House (or National Grid House as it was briefly known) is now student accommodation for the LSE but, out of term-time, the general public can stay there too (at very reasonable rates!). Sadly, the facilities promised for guests no longer include the tube-stile that was such a feature of my time there. Nevertheless, it would be quite amusing to spend the night at the site of my old desk, just to see if anything survives from the days of NGC Settlements and to wallow in nostalgia (pigs prefer mud, but give me nostalgia any day).
I’ve been to the power station a few times since the turbines left, and so am fairly familiar with the collection. However, as a treat this time there was a new Kandinsky (new to me – though, as Kandinsky has been buried ‘neath the clay for a while, not new in any absolute sense ) and one from the period when you could still (just about) tell what he was trying to represent. This makes me think it is an early painting, however, this does lead us to identify another type of expert with whom you should not confuse the writer: an art historian. I also spotted rather an exciting painting of a corridor by a female Portuguese artist, with way too many names for me to remember, which I didn’t recall and which is well worth a peek. However, the primary reason for the trip was to visit the Rothko room (which I find very calming – and got to myself for a couple of minutes, bliss) which I felt would help to cleanse my cultural palette before the evening’s concert. I’m not sure Mr Rothko would be at all keen for his art to be viewed as a sort of cultural sorbet – but, that is the danger of placing your art out into the world, you can never control how it affects the audience – even if it is such a lowly artform as this blog…