I went to the Dickens and London exhibition at the Museum of London, which showcased London as Charles Dickens would have experienced it. It featured a selection of personal artefacts and several period pieces from London in his day
I went because I saw it as a chance to see what few people get the chance to see. I also wanted to learn more about the man that was Charles Dickens. His influences and to get a feel for Victorian London
The standout piece for me was the portrait depicting characters from his stories around his table. Though incomplete, it holds a certain wonder to it.
If there was one thing I didn’t like, it would have to be the sheer number of people who attended the exhibition. Though it was amazing to see people take an interest, a part of me wanted to be able to spend hours examining every item at my leisure
I would recommend this exhibition to others because it shows you all the facets of the man. From his insomnia, to his mad work ethic.
What I learnt from the experience was that inspiration comes to us all in different ways. London was Dickens’ muse and to some degree it holds true for all Londoners
If you liked Dickens and London, I would suggest checking out Our Londinium 2012 on the upper galleries at your next visit.
While I was travelling in China I tried to go to the museum of the city that I was in, in order to learn more about the culture. I went on a day trip to Macao to learn more about this interesting culture that managed to be both Chinese and Portuguese and wholly unique. I was attracted to the temporary exhibition because it looked colourful, intriguing and I liked the project they did with young people in schools.
The exhibition went through the history of the festival using an animation to portray the myth, the early days of the festival when it was just done by local fishmongers, its evolution into a national festival and its current decline in numbers. The story was portrayed in animation, in text on massive drums, photographs, videos and models. Furthermore, a second part to the exhibition was work the museum had done with children where they created art based upon their reactions and feelings towards this tradition.
I really liked the animation that explained the myth of the drunken dragon. I reminded me of anime cartoons. I thought it wasn’t too childish and could appeal to both adults and children. The exhibition was colourful and really portrayed the exuberance of the festival, something that can be hard to do in a static space. I also liked that there was a message in the exhibition, as well as the project with young people, the project aimed to instill a sense of tradition in the younger generation of the Macanese so that the festival can live on.
It would have made a good exhibition a great one if there were a chance to be more physically involved. There were drums but I couldn’t touch them. Even a chance to try on some of the clothes would have been a nice touch and really immerse people in the experience. However, having had a look at the website there was a chance to do a dance workshop with the museum. Also, the festival fell on May 8 this year and I was disappointed that I would not have a chance to be there in person
I would definitely recommend the exhibition because it centres on such a unique festival in only that part of the world. It is a very interesting exhibition and documents the beginning of the festival in the myth and throughout the times as there are old photographs and video footage from when the festival was at its peak. The text is in Cantonese, Portuguese and English so there is no language barrier but also, the pictures, animation and models speak for themselves. It was a fascinating insight into a unique cultural event.
I learnt more about the unique Macanese culture and the things that they are proud of as a race. The Feat of the Drunken Dragon was inscribed on the Tentative List of Macao S.A.R Intangible Cultural Heritage Items in 2009 and the National Culural Heritage List in 2010. I also learnt that such traditions are dwindling as time goes on and the government wants to encourage young people to take part in their heritage more.
 Taken from the Museum of Macao website http://www.macaumuseum.gov.mo/w3ENG/w3MMsource/HeritageFishDragonC.aspx
Earlier this year, I went on a school trip to both Washington and New York. The first three days were spent in Washington where we visited buildings and memorials with both political and historical significance including the new Martin Luther King Memorial.
A particularly interesting exhibition we came across unexpectedly when visiting the National Museum of American History, was “The First Ladies”. The exhibition had a selection of dresses worn by First Ladies, with the earliest in the exhibition given by Helen Taft in 1909.
The gowns on display included inauguration ball gowns and also those worn during diplomatic functions’ with countries.
I loved that the exhibition showcased women’s fashion across the ages as well as giving an insight into the lives of the women who wore the gowns. I was also amazed at how much could be learnt about the politics in America over time through the design and purpose of the First Ladies’ dresses.
After spending a day writing the text panels that will go alongside objects on display as part of Our Londinium 2012 exhibition (open 22 June 2012), we received the treat of going to the Welcome collection and having a look at their new miracles and charms exhibition. The Wellcome collection is a relatively new museum, having only opened in 2007, it brings together the worlds of Art and Science.
Medicine man/ Medicine now gallery
The Medicine man and Medicine now collections are the permanent exhibitions of the museum. The medicine man exhibition is a collection of some of Sir Henry Wellcome’s possessions, the founder of the Welcome trust. Wellcome was a traveller and who enjoyed collecting objects. By the time that he had died in 1936 he had an extensive collection of books, paintings and objects, on the theme of historical development of medicine worldwide. Even though The Medicine man exhibition takes up three rooms in the museum it is still only a small section of his collection. One of my favourite pieces were the Yoruba twin statues. I particularly liked this because as I am Yoruba we have a family heirloom in my family that is a pair of Yoruba twins from my great great grandmother. It was just so interesting to view something that was so personal to me on display at a museum.
The medicine now exhibition was the permanent main exhibition that stays in the museum at all times. Here is where the museum presents it’s unique take on combining medicine and art. I really enjoyed this exhibition as it had a lot of quirky pieces of art a few pieces that stood out to me were John Isaacs, ‘I Can Not Help the Way I Feel”, a giant sculpture of a morbidly obese and deformed body. I loved it because it physically represents the conflict between somebody’s mental health and their physical appearance if they were suffering from body dismorphia. I particularly enjoyed about this exhibition was the way that very serious and hard hitting objects could be placed with far more playful items. A particularly funny exhibit was a 4ft purple jelly baby made from polyurethane. However, by far my favourite object was a book made by Ellie Harrison called “Eat 22”. Harrison set herself a task which was from the day she turned 22 until the day she turned 23 she had to take a photograph of anything and everything she ate. What I liked most about it was the perseverance that it must have taken her to pursue in a task as painstaking as that for a whole year. The size of the book is huge, her documentation of the food she had eaten in a year sets you back when you first see it as it makes you realise just how much food the human body can obtain within the space of a year
The anatomy of desire and other experiments
Charlie Murphy’s ‘The anatomy of human desire and other experiments’ was a smaller exhibition that was placed in the on both the first and second floor of the museum. Murphy’s exhibition aims to capture the passion and erotic acts in glasswork. Whilst some of the pieces where very blatant and shocking in what were others you had to look twice to try and distinguish what they were. What I particularly liked about the item you had to look for a long time at was how strange the artwork could be capturing. I really liked the glassworks that captured kisses, whilst they looked strange and obscure in a glass case i love the idea of being able to capture something as intimate as a kiss in a physical state.
Miracles and charms
Miracles and charms was the seasonal exhibition that was taking place at the museum. It was an exhibition that claimed to explore faith, hope and chance. I felt that it explored these themes successfully and touched on more as well. The exhibition was split into two parts. The first part was concentrated on Mexico, before modernisation colonialism to the present day with their tradition of miracle paintings. One thing that stood out for me about these painting was the vibrancy and rich colours people used in their paintings. In the first room of the exhibition, the miracle paintings are presented in a salon hang on the wall creating a staggering image of vibrant colours and animated images. The miracle painting was a tradition that ran throughout Mexico long before they colonised by Spain. The paintings were done by ordinary people on given to the Gods either as thanks for a situation or asking for help. The scenarios had a very vast range, form menial things such as asking for a good harvest to more serious situations such as begging for the good health child.
Meeting with Claire Carlin at the Wellcome collection and sharing our ideas of what we think of the exhibitions and how to attract young people to the Museum.
After the trip at the Wellcome collection it was quickly becoming one of my favourite museums, and that was before the meeting in the conference room with complementary cakes. Once we finished looking around the Wellcome collection itself we went into the Wellcome trust. The trust was established in 1936 and is an independent charity which funds research to improve human and animal health. The trust is also what funds the collection therefore, it was very exciting to be in there. One of the more evangelical roles of being part of a youth panel is to spread the word and encourage other museums to have their own youth panels as well. Many other museums in London have a youth panel, such as the London transport museum and The Geoffrey museum. As the welcome collection is quite a small museum they were looking for a smaller group of ‘youth advisers’ instead of a large youth panel. So we did the best we could in giving them a heads up on how to attract young people (FACEBOOK!!) and the most effective ways of having a reliable group who can generate interesting ideas. For example, if they are looking for a smaller group they should still have enough people that they can interchange different members at a time. It would be difficult to find a select few people who are able to be 100% committed and reliable if they are only going to be there on a voluntary basis. One of the good thing about Junction is that you are able to come as often or as little as you want, therefore during exam times you might have a quieter crowed with more of the experienced older members but during the summer projects are able to take place where people can come consistently over a certain period of time.
David Hockney’s “The Sermon on the Mount”
Walking into David Hockney’s latest exhibition ‘A Bigger Picture’ at the Royal Academy you are immediately bombarded with giant technicolour landscapes extending every inch of the walls. You can’t deny that the paintings, many of whom sprawl to some 10x10 metres plus compromising of several canvasses weaved together instead of one, are utterly encapsulating with their rich and vivid colour schemes taking the already beautiful Yorkshire woodlands to a completely new level.
Prior to seeing this exhibition I wasn’t too familiar with Hockney’s work, I was aware of him and his involvement in the pop culture movement but I never personally attempted to seek out him out and after leaving I wondered why. His style feeds right into my own tastes: simple, effective and entirely unpretentious, or so I like to think. I’m not left seeking the meaning and left feeling completely unsatisfied (and slightly dim) when I realise that I don’t ‘get it’. With Hockney that is simply not the case and it was refreshing to see that I when I attended the show on a sunny Friday afternoon the audience was mostly made up of those that were not too far off Hockney’s own age (74), not something you usually see when viewing the hot, new exhibit in town. But this exhibition is unlike any other, it spans his 50 year career from the familiar Bradford landscapes to the seemingly more exotic Californian scenes, which is where he now calls home.
The exhibition is spread out over several rooms, each totally encasing you with the myriad paintings almost making you feel like you’ve become one with them. On the offset his works look like they could have been created by any old punter really, his paintbrush seems as if were schlepped across the canvas without little care and yet the closer you get the more intricate and detailed the work becomes, like Monet in reverse. The canvasses implode into these vast, three-dimensional, labyrinthine-like landscapes making you want to explore the world they depict. But of the rooms they almost all contain some variation of his beloved Yorkshire countryside, whether they be so bright they’re almost luminescent or his more somber charcoal drawings, the theme quickly rides out and becomes tiresome. Yet his homage to Claude Lorrain’s ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ and the many retrospectives gave me an energy boost and peaked my interest again. He took the classic image of Jesus addressing his followers on a mountain top and entirely revived it, making it fresh and exciting. Who’d of thought of the mountain’s side as blood red with lilac fields in the distance, only Hockney perhaps. It is the only artwork where you can see each and every stage in its development, plus the original by Lorrain making the final product even more impactful. My interest continued right down some 50 of his landscapes composed on an iPad, which I didn’t think I’d be too fond of but surprisingly enjoyed as I viewed each one. But it was lost again when watching his short film, shot on 18 cameras and showcasing the changing of seasons on a forest walkway in Yorkshire, it may have been pretty but lacked little substance.
You’re left leaving the exhibition feeling invigorated and wanting to take a trip up north to have a gander yourself. While there were a few duds you can now call me a total Hockney convert. Recommended for those who thoroughly enjoy art for what it is and not for what it aspires to be.
At first I asked myself, so what? So what if there are cabinets stacked from head to toe with everyday pills and special medicines that you could find at the local chemist, or cigarette butts, a room of surgical equipment, or spot variations everywhere? After leaving the exhibition when I first saw it I was torn. I was not sure if I liked what I saw or if I was disgusted by it and the artist. Only during the second viewing did I begin to appreciate what I saw at the Damien Hirst exhibition at the Tate Modern.
The pretentions of contemporary art are addressed in the first room; coloured pots and pans displayed in a line, “art” which I am not a fan of because I feel like I am searching for meaning when really all I see are pots and pans. However, what I found especially intriguing in this room was a picture of Hirst as a teenager posing next to a dead head. The contrast in expressions are particularly interesting; a smiling Damien next to a squashed facial expression of a decapitated man. From the off, I was confused by Hirst’s thinking but also intrigued by the artist who had the courage to put his head within a few centimetres of a dead man.
The second room was far more interesting. Behold, here was A Thousand Years, an installation I was excited but apprehensive to see, and I was not disappointed. A large glass case divided in two; one half containing a box with unborn flies the other half containing a cow’s head and an insect-o-cutor. In both: houseflies flying, and houseflies dead, on the floor and in the tray of the insect killer. The concept simple: the lifecycle, but in an unnatural setting. I found this installation disgusting but riveting. I had conflicting emotions of intrigue and not wanting to look, and the second time I visited the exhibition I observed it for longer; the spontaneity of flight, the eyes of the cow, the death incurred on the insect killer.
“A Thousand Years” Photograph: Damien Hirst and Science Ltd/Prudence Cuming Associates
The Mother and Child Divided was another installation I was excited to see. I thought it was cruel to see both mother and child divided in two, revealing their insides. I couldn’t help but ask is this art, or a science lesson? I walked cautiously in between the two halves of the cow, seeing the tongue, stomachs, intestines, all pickled in formaldehyde. I saw in a documentary about the exhibition that the first time Hirst cut through the cow, he cut the head in an awkward angle and so had to start from scratch. Is this right? Killing animals for art? This made me feel sceptical about Hirst’s art as these animals were killed for the purpose of being exhibited. I even felt a little sorry for the houseflies.
The butterfly house (In and Out of Love) was thrilling and frightening for me. I feared the unpredictability of the butterflies, regardless of how beautiful and graceful they were. I felt embarrassed at how on edge I was whilst everyone else happily allowed the butterflies to perch on them; they looked like giant moths to me. Once again the lifecycle is presented in an unnatural setting; we are transported to the tropics for mere minutes, but once we leave, are brought back to reality. What is sad about the butterflies included in the exhibition is that they were bred to be included in his artwork; the stained glass windows made with butterfly wings I think are the most beautiful pieces of work in the exhibition.
The exhibition ends with a dove suspended in a tank of formaldehyde. After all the expressions of death’s inevitability and uncertainty of life, we are left with the symbol of hope. I left the exhibition feeling somewhat uplifted, and my opinion of Hirst had changed. I felt he was not only a fantastic artist, but also a genius. This exhibition is definitely worth visiting because it shocks, but is also very beautiful.
At the guildhall watching the gladiatorial games. Fantastic show from the Museum of London @MaxTweeticus #gladiatorgames — @NateBarling via twitter
Check out Lucie’s wound, everyone’s getting attacked today.
After being sliced up, one of the gladiators had to have stitches sewn into him to heal the damage! Genuine bloodshed at the games today.