All at sea in London with Nelson and Turner!

There are many reasons to visit Greenwich – the Cutty Sark, the world’s meridian, the painted hall, the Queen’s House and the permanent collections at the National Maritime Museum are a few of them. Now there are 2 more great reasons as the National Maritime Museum has opened its Nelson Galleries as well as a wonderful exhibition about Turner, one of my favourite painters. I was luckily enough to be shown around by the Curators for both exhibitions which is a privilege so if you ever see one advertised, do book yourself onto it for the inside track you get, bringing the exhibition to life.  Continue reading

Enjoying autumn in London – great exhibitions

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:

Hyde Park colours

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 extraordinary 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 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 man himself

 

One the right is his 1st photo

 

These are taller than a person!

 

Amazing quote

 

His famous Yosemite photo on the right

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. 

Yinka Shonibare’s Ship in a Bottle

 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!

Sarah Jessica Parker

 

A wall of little black jackets!

 

Another take on the jacket…..

 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
Sue
www.itsyourlondon.co.uk
@itsyourlondon 

Cutty Sark reopens and joins the London list of ‘must see’

Greenwich is a great place to visit and it has just got a whole lot better!  The beautiful Cutty Sark sailing ship has been reopened and is a new landmark for the area. To offer even more, The National Maritime Museum has added to their already amazing collections with a fascinating new exhibition called Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames. 
The Cutty Sark was the fastest ship of her day and plied her trade around the world mostly as a tea clipper and is the last surviving of these ships.  She has been restored using a great deal of original material which is a miracle given the fire that swept through her in 2007. Luck was on their side that day as a great deal of the original timbers had been removed from the site so survived to be reinstated to make the wonderful ship we can visit.

The restoration has at its heart a glass apron which means you can walk right underneath the golden hull and see the glorious shape of the ship as well as explore the decks and cabins. 

 

There are evocative tea chests on the lower decks and fun interactive maps where you can try to beat the Cutty Sark’s best journey time but I was 10 days slower! Famous as a tea clipper that name deriving from these ships ‘clipping’ the time taken and you can learn how the trade winds and doldrums influenced their racing times.

On the top deck you can admire the high rigging which once held 32 sails and reaches up 152 feet/47 metres, and see the tiny bunks the crew slept in, Cutty Sark was launched in 1869 when the men were clearly much shorter than we are now!  The wheel, however, is really tall (as you can see in the photo with yours truly)  and I’m sure the Captain would have to stand on a box to reach the top spokes.

 

The Queen opens the Cutty Sark for visitors on 24th April which must be strange for her as she performed the same act in 1957 as this photo shows. The photo is part of a really interesting slide show with commentary where we learn that a Cutty Sark is a ladies undergarment and it taken from a poem by Robert Burns! 

On our preview day they were still adding the finishing touches but I’m sure by the time the Queen arrives it’ll be perfect. The Cutty Sark is now on my list of recommendations for visitors to London.

My laptop has let me down recently but hopefully I’ll be back posting many more London blogs.

Bye for now,
Sue
www.itsyourlondon.co.uk
@itsyourlondon

Fringe madness

Spent a busy busy weekend outside London at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, an annual treat for me and I was joined by two American friends having their first Fringe experience. They were amazed by it and want to make it their annual treat too! We were lucky with the weather which was mostly dry and even sunny at times so we got to see the city at its best.

We managed 8 shows, a mix of comedy x3, theatre x2 and dance and I squeezed a visit to the Book Festival before they arrived with a friend who lives in Edinburgh. They have about 4 or 5 different festivals all on at the same time so everywhere you turn there is a venue with something interesting showing. The famous Royal Mile running from the castle to Holyrood Palace is full of players persuading you to see their show with flyers and mini performances. It really is a case of so much to see, so little time…….

Back in London we had a visit to Greenwich for the day to see the sights there. The day kicked off with a boat trip from Embankment in the centre out to Greenwich on the super fast Thames Clipper. We wandered around Greenwich,past the Market square through the Royal College and its wonderful baroque Painted Hall to the National Maritime Museum. Lots to see here including Nelson’s jacket – the one he was wearing when he took the fatal shot. And yes, there is the bullet hole. On a more modern note, you can drive the simulator and park your ocean liner in Sydney Harbour but take your turn with all the kids!

After lunch at the famous Trafalgar Tavern we walked up to the Observatory to stand on the Meridian at 0.00.00 longitude and take in the spectacular views over London. The film show at the Planetarium was wonderful if a little sleep inducing so we briskly walked back to the river and took the little known pedestrian tunnel under the Thames. Important not to think about the water above you……. A glass of Pimms at Plateau in Canary Wharf topped off a highly recommended day out. Greenwich is not far but feels out of town and we don’t go there often enough.

Excitement builds as it’s the Notting Hill carnival this weekend and a huge party will be going on all around me. Can’t wait!

Bye for now.
Sue