A Travellerspoint blog

Art for art's sake

Today we tackled the Tate Modern, no mean feat given the renovations the gallery and surrounding area are currently undergoing. So far we've taken shelter in galleries to escape the cold as much as soak up some kulcha, but such is the cavernous concrete and steel interior of the Tate Modern that little warmth was to be had. The current exhibition, Performing for the Camera (Feb 18 - June 12), a collection of 50 black and white photos exploring the relationship between photography and performance also did little to warm the cockles. It made me think that living in the 21st Century we are rarely shocked or awed by art any more.

"The latter is also a record that there was once a time, long, long ago, when women had hair down there."

What was once considered cutting edge is now retro, even quaint, such as photos documenting an "Anti-war naked happening and flag burning at Brooklyn Bridge" and naked women decorating a giant canvas with their paint smeared bodies overseen by a dapper chappy in a suit. The latter is also a record that there was once a time, long, long ago, when women had hair down there. These things need to be remembered.

When you're gorging on art, and you take the time to read the gallery descriptions of artworks, you understand why some think art lovers are making it up as they go along – it's extrapolation on steroids. For example, the permanent exhibition's description of Picasso's Bust of a Woman 1944, a portrait of photographer Dora Maar, says " Her reconfigured features may reflect the complex atmosphere in the final weeks of the Nazi Occupation of Paris". Well yes, 1944 was a messy time in history, but maybe her "reconfigured features" were a) The work of a cubist; b) Painted after a two-bottles-of-red-lunch or c) It was wear a Funny Hat to Pablo's Day. We'll never know, which is true of many paintings. So, as a service to humanity, when next on my journey I'm viewing a work of art in need of context I'll fill in the gaps for you. You're welcome.

Posted by Meli Clarke 05:57 Comments (1)

V & A Day

We were up early(ish) and got mighty fine coffee from the Roastery Cafe down the road run by two New Zealanders (everywhere you go you take the Kiwis with you). We decided to make The V & A our first museum/gallery visit and wound up spending five hours there. The main attractions at the V & A at the moment are Botticelli Reimagined (March 5 – July 3) and Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear (April 16, 2016 – March 12, 2017).
Mounting a Botticelli exhibition without his most iconic work, The Birth of Venus, which never leaves the Uffizi in Florence wasn't going to stop the good folk at the V & A. They gathered together modern works inspired by the Birth Of Venus (David LaChapelle's Rebirth of Venus, Jeff Koons' Lady Gaga Artpop album cover, Warhol's 'Birth of Venus' etc) plus some of Sandro's less celebrated works, and some attributed to anonymous students working in his studio.

Even without the original to compare, the modern interpretations were underwhelming (although I do love a Warhol). I also thought up close the Renaissance originals were flat and dull. I was also taken by the hands in the works of Botticelli & co – the fingers look like skinny supermarket sausages. Maybe sausage fingers were considered to be the epitome of beauty and wealth back in the day.

The underwear exhibit was only two days into its run and overcrowded so we only caught glimpses of the scanties. That exhibition made me wish there was such a thing as (enforceable) gallery-going-etiquette – form one orderly line; spend no more than 3.5 minutes ogling each item and if you don't obey the rules the person behind you (me) can slap you on the back of the head, no questions asked.

Posted by Meli Clarke 13:21 Comments (1)

Tin can to Clapham


No matter how you fly, first, business or cattle class, it's just not natural to spend 24 hours in the air in an oversized sardine can. And this from someone who had the great good fortune to fly business. I'm the first to admit that being able to stretch out is a luxury but you're still trapped in a cruising tin can. You pretend that the free wine and non-stop entertainment is cool, but it's smoke and mirrors. Nothing can distract you from your fate, and 12 hours in no-one is pretending any more; everyone is crusty and grumpy and one visit to the increasingly putrid toilet away from losing it. There, I've said it.

We are staying with a friend in Clapham (voted the best place to live in London in Time Out's City Living Survey 2015), and were told by our taxi driver that it is indeed a cool neighbourhood. "Vivienne Westwood lives over there," he said. And as if on cue, Vivienne flashed past on her bicycle wearing a full-length lime green overcoat, her white hair blowing in the wind and scarlet red lips pursed in concentration.

Our plane arrived at 6.30am, and contrary to all travel wisdom we took to our bed at noon and slept till 4pm. No regrets; bed never felt better. Semi-refreshed we tackled Clapham High Street in search of food and settled on The Sun, a pub already full of happy chappies (and chickies) at 5.30pm. The Poms do mighty fine 'pub food' and we sampled crispy (deep fried) mussels with salt and vinegar mayonaise, cider smoked salmon, salt and pepper squid, and a pint of Fake Fuge (smoked) beer.

It's supposedly spring but still feels like winter (15 degrees during the day), but it's light till 8pm, which is when we called it a night.

Posted by Meli Clarke 13:45 Comments (2)

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