Enjoying autumn in London is not just about the beautiful colours in the parks and views along the River Thames but also about the blockbuster exhibitions. London is famous the world over for its museums and galleries and they host some amazing exhibitions, particularly in autumn. I’ve been to a few good ones recently so here they are!
Firstly, just one photo of the great colours in Hyde Park:
Ansel Adams is one of the most famous and influential photographers in the world and his new show at the National Maritime Museum takes his love of water as its theme, Ansel Adams: Photography from the Mountains to the Sea. These wonderful black and white photos span his whole career starting with a first showing of his first photo, taken at the age of 14! He was no longer going to school at that age so his parents sent him to the World Fair in San Francisco, where they lived, to see the world and its artists on display. It seems that was time well spent and his first photo, which features a water reflection, was the start of a journey which led to the extraordinarily large scale prints of Yosemite that he is most recognised for. He was a pioneer of both scale and the eye-popping detail he achieved in his studio where he printed every shot himself.
The massive prints are taller than me that’s for sure and come from a private collector in Texas who had real problems getting them up to the room for display and had to put them on top of the lift to manoeuvre them through to the top floor. I’m sure they looked great there and the procedure had to be reversed to get them out for this exhibition.
We were shown around privately by the curator, Philip Prodger, and were allowed to take a few photos but sadly that’s not the case normally.
The National Maritime Museum is worth spending time in as it’s full of wonderful exhibits including the coat that Nelson wore at the Battle of Trafalgar and you can see the hole where the fatal bullet entered – luckily he’d already won the battle! Outside the museum is my favourite piece from the 4th Plinth art project in Trafalgar Square – Yinka Shonibare’s Ship in a Bottle. This witty piece is a 1:30 scale model of Nelson’s ship The Victory (good name!) with sails symbolic of African identity, linking Britain’s maritime and colonial past.
In complete contrast, I visited two fashion-based exhibitions. The Hollywood Costumes at the Victoria and Albert Museum is one of the best-presented shows I have seen in a long time. They use video and computer-generated information boards to bring to life a huge number of iconic costumes from Darth Vader to the Adams Family, a Wookie to Dorothy’s shoes, from Indiana Jones’ outfit including the whip and how it works to Jonny Depp’s pirate outfit. There are great case studies of the process which takes a script through to a finished set of costumes in films such as Ocean’s Eleven. No photography is allowed inside so you’ll just have to go and enjoy, or read the V&A’s own account. The other fashion-themed exhibition is Chanel The Little Black Jacket at the Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea. They had the great idea of taking the famous Chanel black jacket and getting a range of celebrities and artists to wear it as they wished and it looks completely different on each person. The lighting was a little underpowered and we thought having a jacket for each visitor to try own and take their own photo would have just made the show. However, there were some fun shots to see and it’s amazing how one garment look so different. You can pick up a free poster and of course buy Karl Lagerfeld’s new book featuring all 113 photos!
It’s a busy time in London – when isn’t it! So I hope to be posted a few shorter blogs very soon.
Bye for now