Tag Archives: London 2011

London 2 – A London Monday….2011

Keeping cool on the Southbank

The hottest London day in 5 years but I will not be deterred from my roller coast through London’s delights;  today is Art.

Before I comment let me say that I am the Monet of tourism…all impressions. Alternatively, Dorothy Parker I ain’t but time and tiredness reduce me to the same  two line critiques…..I make no pretence of serious analysis. So, glib impressions then.


Tracey Emin at the Hayward is a retrospective with fine quilts and lots of representations of vaginas. I’m not sure that all the focus on lust and love lost makes her the feminist artist she is said to be. I do think it seems to have brought her overwhelming misery.

Tate Modern

The Tate Modern is the old Bankside powerstation and is full of splendid spaces. First I see the “house collection” of paintings from 1940 to about 1970, the same period I saw at the Guggenheim. Here is a larger and finer collection but I realize that my first exposure to this period was at MOMA and I think the richness of that has spoiled me being as mind blowing as it was. A high bar to soar!

Lunch with my friend Robert and much catching up after his two years in London and then back to the Tate for the Joan Miro exhibit.

It was wonderfully curated showing the poetic figurative paintings of his early years, one of which, The Farm, was so loved by Hemingway that he took up a collection around the pubs to buy it. I loved it too.

Hemingway drove around the pubs in a taxi to raise the money to buy this early MIRO

The surrealism and symbolism of Miro’s middle years was curated to show both meaning and parallels with the political years of Spain especially during the Franco years.I didn’t respond so well to this but in “1968” he was painting bold Expressionist canvases. The energy in the final Fireworks paintings is said to capture the collapse of Franco. I just found it full of dynamic creative energy.

So I liked the beginning and the end…..the large middle was not my speed.

Walked up the Strand down to Westminster Abbey etc. etc

How could the architecture of London not delight? The Royal Courts in the Strand


More delights

The night ended at the comedy festival in the garden outside my window aka Southbank Festival. Jenny Eclair, a 50 year old with a potty mouth on the issues of getting older was a great choice…oh, yes! Like she doesn’t know now with her pubic hair thinning out, whether to trim it right back or comb it over.

You’d have to have a quid to live in this town – $25 for the Miro  (with audiotapes), $16 for Emin and $30 for the funny lady.

I noticed that the art galleries and the pubs are the only places where people with English accents work. The rest of the service industry is from everywhere with Eastern Europeans being the lastest in the mix.

My feet are really killing me. Tomorrow I met my mate Jo who is back from the Glastonbury festiival. Hopefully not so much walking.

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London 1 – London makes me loquacious….. 2011

Sunday night and I think I am overstimulated. We’re in the middle of a rare 2 day heatwave. Today about 30 degrees and part of tomorrow, 32. First, this morning I was upgraded. I asked for a Thames-side room and have been given one with a river and garden outlook. Its advantage is that it is a handicapped room….. Much bigger and the handrails in the bigger bathroom give me somewhere to dry the knickers.

Hernando, the Brazilian boy who organized it has taken to saying “God bless you” whenever he sees me. Probably one small advantage of not being young.

My room is under the EYE, kitty corner from the Houses of Parliament


Did I mention that the London Eye is outside my window as well and I can see the National Theatre and Waterloo Bridge? I tried being Vivian Leigh but I’m too feisty. The National Theatre,  Queen’s Concert Hall and Hayward Gallery are all on Southbank too. Their modernist concrete architecture is not wearing well

Through the throngs at the Southbank Festival, I notice that statue imitation in a range of improbable costumes seems to be the busking mode du jour.






Then up the Strand and through Convent Garden in a long way to the British Museum. (I will try to stop place-passing name-dropping).

The British Museum

The British Museum of memory was a charming reading room with original  manuscripts and the Rosetta stone. In the intervening 20 years something happened. It is now an imposing museum of antiquities with a grand central court glass-roofed, and the Reading Room was shut. I miss the old place..

They do the Egyptians proud (though not my go) and the Assyrian stuff is great.

This chap comes from Niveah on the Tigris river (Now in Iraq) about 7th century BC. He was an Assyrian.


Disappointed with the Phoenician and Hittite stuff. How much of any of it should be here anyway?….would the Elgin marbles  be sold now to pay the Greek debt if they were still there? The displays are excellent and funnily photos are allowed while they are not in most smaller museums around the world. Crowds huge but it is Sunday.

There was an exhibition on Christian relics  ($18 to see). Stunningly curated. I have been thinking a lot about curating  mostly to realize how bad the Australian Museum and the Powerhouse in Sydney are – confusing in physical, chronological and thematic layouts.

It evokes the past

A group of brave Iranians were outside the Museum collecting signatures against the damning in the south of Iran which they say will destroy Persepolis, inter alia. Surely no-one could take that wonder away from the world. How I remember the sweeping staircase, the reliefs of all the  peoples whose names have been lost to history and the charming older Iranian who told me he wished to fly free as a bird… perhaps in another life.

I sat under an oak in Bloomsbury Square thinking about my old friend Dick, who is dead now. He knew about everything and first told me about Persepolis which I went to see, in part based on his description of the staircase. Sometime in the late 70’s Dick and I had our photo taken in front of a statue of John Henry Newman here in London. He took me to a famous person’s party in Little Venice where I had determined to have my one and only one night stand ( in tribute to the 60’s when I missed doing so).

I did have a flutter with a journalist and later bad novelist whom I stayed in touch with for days and then for years. What a failure as a child of the free love generation I was.

I also though about all the things in my life I had seen and lost because I had not recorded them. So, I am not going to apologize for this minutiae.

I had a drink in a pub in Drury Lane called The Sun. Remember the heat! It claimed that Oscar Wilde, Oliver Reed and Thomas Edison revered the place. They would have all been fun. I’ve yet to have a good cup of coffee here but maybe because I have been reduced to Starbucks since they have free wifi.

My feet are killing me. I hope they have recovered for the Tate Modern and Tracy Emin at the Hayward tomorrow. Lunch with my friend , Robert, should help.

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