Friday, February 17, 2012

Victoria and Albert Museum

It can rightly call itself the world's greatest museum of design and art. I did three tours there back to back. Saw the Ware bed, where travellers would rest and that could seat 16. The cafe, with its gold work on the walls was a feast for the eyes.
I enjoyed the contemporary sections the most, as they were more relatable. The ceramics, glass, and similar sections were beautiful. It was easy to do this museum as all I had to do was just walk through and savour the sights.
The cast work section, with a huge statue of Michelangelo's David, which could be viewed from the balcony of the floor above, as that gallery was under repair, was also wonderful. Learnt about Henry II's mistress, who was 44 and he 14 when the affair started!

Cirque De Soleil

The Royal Albert Hall was awe inspiring. The stage for Circque was chameleon like, as the floor sometimes looked like the ocean, sometimes lava, and at other times sand, thanks to the light effects. The flexibility of the performers as they twisted, sprang, and did their various acts left us marvelling.
The few mistakes only highlighted the difficulty of the acts, and they always redid the tricks. It was as much fun figuring out how a boat moved on stage as it was seeing it move. There was even bhangra music! Skaters, jugglers, beam walkers kept us glued to the edge of our seats.
There was live singing too, so we kept looking at various points on stage. The actors in gorilla skins grunted, moved, and behaved like animals. What a long way from the smelly circuses with the downcast animals I saw in my childhood.

Museum of Childhood

I stumbled upon the Museum of Childhood while I was looking for another place. It had the most delicious dollhouses, from different eras. There were also train sets, car models, rocking horses, Action Man, which is the UK version of GI Joe.
I wished I was a child again. Different toys operating on various scientific principles like friction were explained. There was also an exhibition on magic which was wonderful. There were figues from fairy tales like Cinderalla and Snow White. Rooms had been created according to the themes of books.
The Mad Hatter's tea party was laid, and the wardrobe for the children of Narnia. Harry Potter was the only contemporary figure doffed a hat to. It was a pleasant journey back in time, as I saw kaleidoscopes and projectors similar to the ones I spent hours looking through when I was a child.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Phantom of the Opera

Just like watching a match in a stadium trumps the telly everytime, witnessing a musical beats watching it on the screen. This 5 D experience is still miles ahead of any 3 D or 4 D experience. The special effects would not have been possible on screen. The music entered our souls, with its haunting beauty.

The singing was spell binding. The stage was grand. Even though we were watching it from the Grand Circle, we could see everything. The characters expressions were not as important as their voices, outfits, and the use of the stage.

It reminded me of Greek theatre- the amphitheatres with masks, or the Parthenon with large sculptures so that worshippers could see detail from a distance too. Am an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan now.

Operas seem less accessible, like Indian classical music. You can only admire the power of the singer, but not identify with it. This one involved us because of the masala mix of love, horror, and visual grandeur.

Mirrors which characters stepped through, trapdoors which made them disapper, smoke, guns, boats and paths on the stage which wound long- we saw them all. The intricate chandelier, stage within a stage, and the painted on scenery were perfection.

The story in this case seems secondary. Although I will read the book. Am a musical junkie now.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Cooking in Progress

There's something about food
That puts me in a good mood
The washing purifies me too
The chopping takes away blues

For it requires mind. The violence
Dissipates my frustration. Hence
When I make the oil sizzle in the wet
It is easy to make the veggies sweat.

Stirring rhythmically, seeing my creation form
The uncertainty of it. Will  the spices storm?
Patience in spades is needed. The clock helps not
Only my gut, for when the veggies are done in the pot.

Somehow the eating is all the sweeter then
To feed myself and another, to know when
We stop, tomorrow too I will cook
And it doesn't happen by the book.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Oxbridge & Madame Tussaud's

Although Oxford has grander buildings, the punting at Cambridge was fun. it also seems more modern than Oxford. Saw the place where Pink Floy first played. there were ice bits on the river. The blanket they provided came in handy. Had the most delicious burger with chips at The Bath House in Cambridge.
Quite liked Oxford Castle at Oxford. Several shops and restaurants dot it. Discovered it after it had shut for the day though. Still, walking through it by the moonlight was enjoyable.
Some of the wax figures at Madame Tussaud's didn't look that lifelike. The best was Arnold Schwarzenegger, perhaps because he looks so like a wax model himself :) The horror show was hum drum.
The Marvel Experience in 4 D was new, although it was short- only ten minutes. With water squirting, 3 D effects and so on, I'm now a fan of this technology.

National Gallery, Saatchi Gallery & Science Museum

Did both tours at the National Gallery. The guide covered the Impressionists, a delightful series of paintings by William Hogarth called Marriage a la Mode, with lawyer Silver Tongue, an unfaithful wife, and other dramatic elements.
The Ambassadors, by Hans Holbein the Younger, was interesting because of the skull which looked like a skull when viewed sideways, not from the front. I also liked Turner's The Fighting Temeraire, it has beautiful yellows in the sunset.
In contrast, the Saatchi Gallery tour focussed much more on your interpretation of the work. Gesamtkunstwerk- new art from Germany is the current exhibition in their 11 galleries.It made little sense when I saw it without the guide. Gesamtkunstwerk means "total work of art". It was fascinating how a particular srtist had managed to get an expression on a sculpture with just a few strokes.
Another had used bread, marble, and wood to create leaves. A pipe ran from one branch to another, carrying yellow paint. Did that suggest a drain of nature by man? Screws driving the 'leaves' in the branch heightened this impression. The branches where the pipes led seemed less rough than the source branch, further adding to this notion.
If you look at the last image on the above link, there are two gruesome sculptures, one of which is similar in form to the painting which is part of the set. A keen eye is important to see these kinds of things. Art is not just about imitating life, but using media to comment on it. The viewer can decode and unwrap the work at leisure.
20:50, Richard Wilson's permanent installation at the gallery, is deceptively simple. The black and white large spaces reflect each other, suggesting maya. The sharp smell of engine oil adds another dimension. If you breathe gently on it, ripples are created on the bottom surface!
Continuing the technology theme, Science Museum, was fun, especially as I am more of an artsi. There was a piece of rock from the moon, rockets, mini ships, and old cars. Place was overrun with young boys mostly, on school trips. Had some yum pumpkin and goat's cheese pizza there for lunch. Too cold right now to plan more sightseeing. Snow fell this weekend, softening the landscape. There's still some on the car outside my window.