A beautiful February day, a cheap train ticket to London, 4 possible exhibitions we wanted to visit – an exciting prospect!! But beware! If you go to London at a weekend (let alone a school holiday weekend!), check with London Transport before you make your plans! Rather densely, I didn’t, and the Circle, District, and part of the Metropolitan (the part we wanted) underground lines were closed for engineering works!! Very frustrating…. Mind you, we walked a lot, so perhaps it was good for us after all! However, instead of 4 exhibitions (a bit ambitious), we only actually saw 1!!
We headed off to the Barbican to see if we could get into the Rain exhibition – its full title Random International: Rain Room but the queue was already 3 1/2 hours and we did want to see other things, so we decided not to queue. Their blurb says they invite you to experience what it’s like to control the rain, experimenting with human behaviour and interactive processes. No wonder it’s so popular – we all want to be able to control the weather from time to time!
After a long walk to 3 closed tube stations, we finally made it onto the Docklands Light Railway – a really pleasant way to get to Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum! A really popular exhibition of Ansel Adams’ black and white photography is on show there until 28th April. There was queueing for tickets and then to get in here too! Great to see so many people wanting to look at art exhibitions! I’m a total fan of Adams’ work, and these focus mostly on his love affair with water in all its various guises – rapids, waterfalls, mist, spray, crashing waves, seas. Gorgeous! I would have liked to have had a bit more space and fewer people to be able to appreciate the works both up close and further away, but the catalogue at £20 is a must! One of my favourite pieces – one of the ice ones – hasn’t translated well into the book, but most have. One of the interesting curatorial decisions was that there was not a set or obvious path through the exhibition. Divided into different areas with works grouped but easily interchangeable, it meant everyone was milling about and experiencing the work in different ways. Also, although this may not have been intended, the low white noise of the air-conditioning was beguiling by the wave images – you could almost sense the crash of the waves about to happen and the slow sucking noise of the retreating water was just about there below the level of the aircon. Quite atmospheric in a surprising and unexpected way!
If you haven’t been to Greenwich and the Royal Maritime area, you’ve missed a treat. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t before visited Greenwich, but I shall certainly go again. Those images we saw of the equestrian sports at the Olympics wetted my appetite, and the setting is just stunning. The grandeur of the buildings, and the space in which they are located, are beautiful. The buzz around Greenwich village is tangible and it has a busy village feel to it like the best of the small coastal villages at the height of summer that we do so well in Britain (that is if the weather is good!!).
Because we had been so delayed by the transport problems, we decided to take the Thames Clipper down to the South Bank and what a lovely way to see London! Firstly the Docklands Light Railway had taken us through the dock areas above ground and threading through the iconic buildings and warehouses of the Docklands, and then the Clipper took us quite swiftly around the twists and turns of the Thames. It was fascinating to experience the different perspectives this trip gave us of a city we know and love. I knew the Thames was a writhing beast, but hadn’t realised just how much as the Shard was so close, then so far, then so close again!
The added bonus of the delays was that we got to see London dressing itself up in lights as dusk fell – and what a beautiful sight that is! Iconic buildings changing their character from day to night – putting the glad rags on and dazzling with illumination! We were hoping to get to Tate Britain but that didn’t happen. Instead we stopped off at the brutish beauty of Tate Modern and had a quick scoot round Gallery 2 before heading back on a tube that was running to our crammed train back to the Midlands!
The other exhibition we were hoping to see, at the Hayward Gallery in the South Bank complex, had sold out of tickets but this we are intending to return to. It’s the Light exhibition. Happily it has a few weeks to run yet, so maybe we will get to see this one!
In the meantime, here are a few images from London, architecturally. (Sorry – WordPress is doing weird things with my photos!!)