Sunday, June 19, 2011

London as of June'11

Might as well post about bits and ends in case it's useful to anybody and as always to keep track for myself...
-Keep in mind I opted for skipping the main tourist attractions-
Post in progress too.
1. First reccomendation:
The London street photography exhibit at the Museum of London: if pics were generally small and too plainly displayed and only a few of them caught my attention (went to Henry Lartigue's exhibit in Madrid's Caixaforum a few months ago, same period aprox and some of it same category, THAT was way more impressive), what I really enjoyed was the documentary showing in the first room, made for the exhibit. Thumbs up. Photographers like Matt Stuart, Polly Braden or Wolf Suschitzky talk about it, things like how the preception of street photography has changed and how inhibited one feels these days to shoot a pic, about the challenges of using cameras with limitations, how they often stick with them because their struggle to overcome these limitations actually makes them way better photographers, how they are driven by passion and curiosity to explore and capture ...
And of course before or after do visit the museum of London itself, I had been there once before and was looking forward to returning.

2. The candy department at Selfridge's huge store in Oxford Street (stifling street though, so many people it was nightmarish. To be avoided as much as possible). May be silly but felt kinda overwhelmed, so many things, so many colours, simply gorgeous (much better that the Harrods' one and more price friendly). And yes, that is the hugest gummy bear ever!- how mature of me..wheighed a ton. Wouldn't eat it though..looks dangerous.
I also enjoyed the silly things on the ground floor (like the ice invaders ice molds or the finger food plate ring, the Fred stuff ,not to buy it but to see it, curious - bought robot key covers on sale though, fun). And of course the music part HMV in the basement. Not great selection (there's way more stuff in the Piccadilly one, which conveniently opens until real late) but big offers. As I was leaving up the escalators with my new cds they started playing Robyn's Dancing on my own (the serendipity of it!- I know what I mean)...weeeent back down and bought part 1 and part 2 for 3 pounds each, not bad.
I also visit at least one supermarket when a tourist, great way to know more about where you are. Since here I knew them well from last summer, I had to go to a number of them to get the different cookies needed :).
3rd. Ok, let's get serious now: obviously the Tate Modern...cafeteria. Seriously, amazing views. If one's allowed to love one's own pics, I love this one:

It's on the top floor, I was just snooping (on most mornings I was alone, so I set my own very quick pace). The building is very worth it , specially the inside, the large empty spaces(the collection, I skipped most of it I'm afraid, went for the Matisses, didn't really like the ones there). I prefered to sit on the ground floor's floor for a bit, watch the building.
4. South bank walk and bridges, a must.
Worth to check out the huge "Urban fox" on top of a building in Southbank centre, more magic at night. About the meaning, here. Truth is it really was an odd mix of cute and threatening, quite an achievement.

That day I crossed different bridges 5 times (never walked so much as in London I think, I was exahusted). The night ones were fun, because since there had unfortunately been a fire Waterloo bridge was closed to the traffic and quite empty:

Also there was a full moon that seeemed to look right through the London Eye. A number of improbable things going on. And the following day even a rare eclypse..
And how flattering are pictures of one's back, huh?. So very, highly recommend them ;)
5th Will keep this one way shorter than planned for the moment. The Station Sessions Festival, free concerts at St Pancras station, is currently on. Check out the lineup here. Would have loved to go to the fantastic Nerina Pallot's one (but was boarding my plane at the very moment). Wow!, just seen sensational Alice Gold is on on the 18th July: don't miss it if you have the chance!!.
6: If you happen to be walking by Piccadilly's Royal Academy of Arts (yep, that street that's full of bulldozers, traffic jams, etc, half of it being digged up, unfortunately where I was staying...), enter the courtyard to see Jeff Koons's Coloring Book (temporarily). If you happen to pass by more than once, go to see it in different lights, it changes a lot. When I took the pic it was cloudy (obviously).

The reflection has absorbed half the building/or vicerversa. Clever Koons, I only saw it fully when I looked at the picture. Usual picture would go something like this, quite different:

There's the Summer exhibition going on now at the Academy (hence the sculpture) but I skipped it (great idea, but what the brochure showed, not for me). I did take the John Madejski fine rooms tour but unless you've seen many other things before and have time, I do not recommend it, few paintings (can I say minor works though from huge fantastic painters, long tour, slow pace). I mean, had little time and lots to see (that said by someone who spent half a morning inside a TK Maxx, shame on me - well, I had to buy gifts... and try on fancy stuff the wrong size. Same shops as TJ Maxx in the US).
Next number: Free range talent. Didn't go to this one, no events scheduled for the little time I was in London. A bit far too, but looked like an interesting enough art and design show. No pic for that so instead this one of a painting in an Albemarle Rd gallery, not my taste but really well painted and most original. Like sometimes someone complains that you let go of their hand when the truth is.. Really eerie picture, the girl's face of joy as she jumps to the void, the very opposite in the boy's as he tries in vain to stop her. Afraid the reflection in the window disguises that, reason why I explain, also makes it look a bit like the boy is in a real balcony.. It's called Tana!, by Enrico Robusti (again, far too grim for me).
Wait!, she's not falling but running, misleading. Well, well done sir, first impression was completely amiss, I've just realized. Oh, so poetic ...I saw what I wanted to see, which was the completely opposite image of something I'd watched recently. It may still be, but in a much more twisted way, which is so fitting.

I know, most of my recommendations are art, but.. Also, I have to point out that all this I found out about browsing the internet, brochures, etc. No one to help out in the UK.. No need these days, internet is the bomb. I'm amazed at how easy it is now to get all this info from your very chair. I even got my Bush Hall tickets delivered weeks in advance. You have to love technology sometimes.
Next number and last art thing. But the only one I was sure to visit: Tate Britain. Why? Ah, Ophelia, 'course. Will elaborate. Do the Tate to Tate boat.
Should write about the Victoria & Albert Museum, the William Blake Richmond painting 'Mrs Luke Ionides' now moved to The cult of beauty exhibition without museum workers knowing about it (was I really the first one to ask where it was and be directed to an empty space???). Someone kindly slipped me inside the exhibit and delivered me in front of it as I'd gone to the museum mainly to see it, escorted me all the time though. Glorious print in background. Dress fabric: amazing.
Food: here's a few pubs I went to, not extraordinary yet quite ok:
* The Salisbury in Covent Garden: very handy location, a place with personality, cosy. I tried my first mashed peas there (as a side dish) and they were quite good .
* The Field (29 Clarges Street). This time we were a large party yet the food was quite decent. Had this:

And loved the Yorkshire pudding.
* The king's head, only place to eat at 15.30..Food just ok but the place had a lot of flavour (ha ha), upstairs very nice. So I'd recommend it for a beer.
Next one I went to (but couldn't eat, too late), was recommended to me and it looked really nice: Chor Bizarre (indian food). Alice Gold had just blogged that this other one was the best curry place but too far away. The rest was mainly sandwiches for me, was not a foodie trip and anyway some sandwiches are really good. And English food is full of dishes with onion (which I hate) and strange meat pies etc that I wouldn't eat (I recognize I am a bit of a fussy eater), so not very encouraged. I'll have the cookies and the desserts though, thank you. And the curry and the sandwiches (specially the prawn ones). Aaand the Yorkshire pudding.
London is full of things to see and do. Curious that when you're on the road heading to the city from the airport one of the first ads you see are two rather huge screens both sides of a bridge that read "Head to Portsmouth" or something like that. Kinda disloyal, these Porstmouthians.. people have not even arrived in London yet!!. Well, londoners turned out to be really nice in general. Last summer I was surprised by how nice people were in Somerset, Cornwall, and a few more places, didn't recall brits to be that way and figured it was the countryside. But it has been the same in London. As bothersome as so many tourists have to be in one single city (some city people were understandably complaining in a newspaper one of the days) they still were incredibly nice to us. Like this serious looking man in a suit we asked for directions to a restaurant, he didn't know so went and looked it up on his phone, showed us a map and then even showed us a pic of the restaurant's facade!
Tags:"london june 2011 blog"

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