Wednesday, January 25, 2012

And all the rest

I suppose we could be called a bit daft, really. But having decided to have a few days in London for an exhibition, it seemed a shame not to do one or two other things whilst we were down there. This turned in to two performances on Saturday and two exhibitions on Sunday. Fortunately, each "pair" of events were greatly contrasting, which helped us survive, I think - we haven't done two theatre visits in one day for a great many years, when we were very much younger!

I have wanted to see a Cirque du Soleil performance for a long time, so when I realised that there was a show at the Albert Hall while we were down, that was a given. Great spectacle and amazing skill and talent - I am so glad we went, and now want to get to another one! I even liked the "clowning" bits, which thank goodness were not like the conventional ones. These were clever, funny and relevant to the overall theme of evolution. So, success number one.

We had to do a fast turn-around to get a bus to the next venue, and no time for a meal, had to make do with a sandwich (I think Pret made a lot of money out of us over this trip!) Completely different thing - "Masterclass" with Tyne Daly. Now, she has been a hero of mine since Cagney and Lacey, but I was blown away by her talent as a stage performer. The play has an interesting construction, based on some masterclasses that Maria Callas did at the Juillard in the 80s (??) The theatre audience is treated as the students attending, with some interaction, which could have been truly naff but was well enough done not to be. The actual theatre was - or seemed - even smaller than the old-style London theatres usually are, so the whole thing was very focussed and intimate. Some humour, some intensly moving sections, and a very little glorious singing from the unfortunate "victim" students. I just loved it. Very much success number two.

Sunday, we had to get up and do it all over again, kinda sorta. (Why do we never have restful lying on the beach type holidays, eh?) At the last minute we had realised that the David Hockney exhibition was starting at the Royal Academy that weekend, so of course we had to go.


Total blast of colour, room after room of immersion into the East Yorkshire landscape, with a few side trips to the Yosemite. Yet another interesting contrast. An entire room of iPad works - I earwigged a fascinating conversation involving a woman who obviously was an artist herself and familiar with the apps he uses. She was pointing out how skilfully he is overcoming the limitations imposed by the software, and also some instances where you could discern where those limitations did show somewhat - curves of branches, for instance.

The colours that he has been using have caused quite a lot of controversy. We have been practising observing the woodland we have seen since, and it is quite amazing just what colours are in fact there when you open your eyes and really look. So - success (and how) number three.

Now, the entire reason for going to London this particular weekend was because we wanted to see - and managed to get tickets for - the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at the National Gallery. So that was our final destination. We had yet another sandwich and walked down to Trafalgar Square, with plenty of time to spare. So we sat in the Square, managing to find a bit of actual sunshine to keep us warm.

We were sitting next to this. I really do not get why hundreds of tourists were queuing up to have their photographs taken next to it. Or is it only me that finds it seriously ugly? Tends to make me fear for the integrity of the opening ceremony....

Anyway, our alloted time duly arrived and in we went. And in my case very nearly came straight back out again, but the DSM prevailed upon me to not go and ask for my money back. Why? Massive, massive overcrowding, that's why. A combination of far too many people, most with audioguides that were over-verbose (according to the DSM who had one) meaning that there were crowds around each work. Some of these were tiny fragments and you needed to get close to see them. Some were so faded that there was little left to see. Far too much was not by Leonardo himself, but "school of".

Yes, there were some great works there. Some of the sketches had a delicacy and sensitivity - particularly those of tiny babies - that was very moving. And the one thing that will remain in my memory is of an entire surviving notebook of Leonardo's, even though it is so fragile and so precious that it sat in distant solitary splendour in a glass case. But did the exhibition match my expectations?

No. Very much not a success! Do you know, they even had some of the pieces hung in a different order from that printed in the guides, which strikes me as a bit unprofessional. And whilst I don't want to penalise those with young children, I did object to nearly being rammed by the biggest pushchair I have ever seen (and that is saying something) and nearly tripping over far too many very young kids who could not in any way have appreciated what they were seeing. (In contrast, there were slightly older children at the Hockney who were obviously enjoying the art, and were even sitting quietly on the floor sketching! So I am not a total curmudgeon.)

So, somewhat ironic that the very reason for our trip turned out to be the one disappointment!

We walked round Trafalgar Square afterwards to catch our bus back to our hotel.

The Olympic countdown thingy looked a bit better in the twilight!

I did actually manage to find the energy to do a bit of knitting - more on this in another post.

We were on the same train coming home on Monday as David Cameron. The DSM would not let me out of my seat to go and have a quick word. I wonder why?

1 comment:

Cassandra said...

Sounds like a great success, despite the disappointment of the main attraction. I wonder how long "Masterclass" will be playing? I'd love to see it and I won't be in London again until May...