Tales of walking, eating, watching and playing. Vintage treasures and simple pleasures ... the things that make her happy.

Friday, 20 May 2011

In the big city ...

We visited here …

The Tate Britain.  Mr wanted to see the James Stirling exhibition so I had a quiet wander and went to spend some time with two of my favourites …

‘The Lady of Shalott’ by John WilliamWaterhouse  

This terribly sad but hauntingly beautiful painting represents a scene from the Tennyson poem of the same name, telling of the plight of a young woman’s unrequited love for Sir Lancelot.   

Legend says the Lady of Shalott was imprisoned in a tower and forbidden to look directly at the world, doomed only to view it through a mirror, and weave what she could see into a tapestry.  Her despair was only made worse when she viewed romantic couples in the distance, and she spent her days longing for a return to normality.  One day she saw Sir Lancelot passing by in the mirror and dared to look out at Camelot directly, bringing a curse upon herself.  Escaping by boat during a storm, she sailed towards Camelot singing a lament.  She stares at a crucifix lying in front of her.  There are three candles beside it (often used to symbolize life) but two have blown out, suggesting her life will soon end.  Her frozen body was later found and Lancelot prayed to God to have mercy on her soul.  The tapestry woven during her imprisonment was found draped over the side of her boat.

“… and down the river’s dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance-
With glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay,
The broad stream bore her far away …”
 The other is this one …

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood founding member, Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s ‘The Beloved’

Showing the moment the bride takes the veil from her face, transfixing with her direct gaze and beauty, the exoticism heightened by a Japanese dress, Peruvian headress and attendants of varying physicality and ethnicity.

I love the works of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  Starting out in 1848, three young artists founded the brotherhood with ages ranging from just 19 to 22.  Hugely critical of the other artists at the time they caused controversy in the art world in their attempts to rediscover the authenticity they felt painting had lost.

We also managed a quick visit to the Tate Modern after striking out at a brisk pace along the Lambeth Walk and past the hordes waiting to ride the Eye. 

The area around the Royal Festival Hall is looking more like a seaside resort than Weymouth seafront, with beach huts, the world's longest bunting (yes, really) and a temporary beach, all in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain.  Sorry, not very good photos; I really should have tried to capture the atmosphere!

The Thames tide was out but no time for any mudlarking today.  With just a small amount of pushing about of the ground (no digging allowed without a licence, although you don’t actually need to dig to find something), you are almost guaranteed to find a bit of clay pipe stem or, if you are really lucky a pipe bowl.  From the 17th century, clay pipes were sold ready filled with tobacco, suitable for one use and then they were tossed away.  Literally thousands are littered along the Thames and regularly unearthed by mudlarkers.  An unusual momento to take home with you!

The building works around the Tate Mod have really come on since our last visit at Christmas.  They have opened up the huge underground storage tanks that have lain unused since the power station was decommissioned.  These are to become an auditorium and new performance and installation spaces.  The Turbine Hall has no installation at the mo as they are 'dismantling' Ai Weiwei's 'Sunflower Seeds'. 

We went to see these just before the new year.  The installation consisted of 100 million sunflower seeds, each one handmade in porcelain by specialists working in small scale workshops in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen!  So, far from being mass produced they are the efforts of hundreds of skilled hands, encouraging us to rethink the 'Made in China' phenomenon.  Also, makes you consider the difference between an individual and the masses today and in the future. 

What at first looked like a sea of grey was on closer inspection beautiful.  Unfortunately, by the time we visited you were no longer able to walk on them or touch them though as there had been health issues with dust.
Sadly, on 3rd April Ai Weiwei was arrested by the Chinese authorities as he tried to board a plane to Hong Kong. Why ... simply because the Chinese authorities refuse to allow Ai Weiwei's right to speak freely as an artist.  He remains uncontactable and his whereabouts are unknown.


Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Marina:
The plight of Al Weiwei is too appalling for words and, or so it seems to us, of less and less concern to those in our country who are in a position to make their voices heard. Absolutely dreadful.

The Tate is always wonderful and the Pre-Raphaelite paintings so evocative and atmospheric. We do so love the choices which you have chosen to include here. As you are probably aware, the Birmingham Art Gallery has a very good collection.

What fun all the junketings are on the South Bank to commemorate the Festival of Britain. We have in a vitrine in the drawing room a 5/- coin minted for the occasion in 1951.

Tate Modern - such a lot happening. You have prompted us to visit again when next in the UK.

A wonderful and informative post. Thank you so much.

*Maristella* said...

Hi! Il tuo blog è molto bello, mi piace passeggiare qui!
Un caro saluto, *Maristella*.

Biba said...

I love those paintings! Waterhouse and Rossetti are among my favourite artists as well.

My Spotty Pony said...

An interesting post which I enjoyed reading. I may be mistaken, but I am sure I read somewhere that several visitors to the Sunflower Seeds had helped themselves to a few... another reason to prevent people walking on them. They would probably be daft enough to think they could list them on ebay at a later date!