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What I did on my long weekend in London

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

So last weekend I took 3 days in London to do a mad dash round some exhibitions and a play.  Here’s what I went to…

Wellcome Trust: Death: A Self Portrait

This free exhibition at the Wellcome Trust is far less morbid than it sounds.  A mix of art and curiosities from around the world.  Its a shame the book isn’t a catalogue as its one of those exhibitions I could see myself drawing inspiration from if I’d something to act as a reference.

I’d say allow an hour or more for this.

Royal Academy of Arts: Bronze

Book in advance for this exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts and expect it to be busy.  Split by themes of different subject matter it covers the whole of history from thousands of years BC to a Tony Cragg piece at the end.  A room is given to explaining the processes involved.

Put aside several hours for this one.  More info:

There was another (small) exhibition but I can’t find any details and it was rather modern so I’ll skip along to…

The Design Museum: Digital Crystals

Digital Crystals was smaller than I expected but had some interesting pieces.  I especially liked one with lasers and crystals and the chandelier.

Less impressed with an interactive wireframe controlled by an Xbox controller.  I can’t work out how exhibitions are including wireframes as art or design when computer graphics have come on so far.  It’s like they’re impressed with artists who barely scratch the surface of a technology.  Not really fair to pick on the Design Museum as I’ve seen this in the Walker in Liverpool and a couple of other exhibitions in the last couple of years.

The Design Museum: Design to Win

Design to Win was interesting with its look at how design influences sport from motor racing to swimming.  I was flagging a bit by the time I got to this one and its now finished so I’ll not go into a great deal more detail.

The National Theatre: The Magistrate

This really deserves its own review but for now – excellent production of the farce.

Tate Modern: William Klein + Daido Moriyama

An interesting selection of photographs (and other works) from two artists.  There were some pieces I really liked but overall in retrospect it didn’t do as much for me as some of the other exhibitions.

Tate Britain: Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde

I think I may have seen too many Pre-Raphaelites on biscuit tins and bad reproductions.  This wasn’t as big an eye opener for me as The Vorticists a couple of years ago but I’ve certainly got a better appreciation for the Pre-Raphaelites now.  Interesting to see the variety of work.  Another very busy exhibition.

Tate Britain: Turner Prize 2012

I’m glad I joined Tate for a year because if I’d paid for this I’d be disapointed.  If the John Moores Painting Prize includes a some stuff that makes me go… “really – so go to an art school and then you can get away with calling this art? If I did this I’d be called a talentless con artist” the Turner prize includes very little that doesn’t fall into that category.  Unless this is really your thing save your time and money.

I do wonder if art history will look back on our time and see the likes of Light from the Middle East: New Photography as far more important than 90% of the Turner Prize.

V&A: Light from the Middle East: New Photography

A nice little free exhibition of 90+ photographs from (funnily) the Middle East.  With 30 different artists from 13 countries there is real variety to this exhibition.  They vary from portraits to works with political messages to abstracts created from photographs.  If you’re in the area I’d suggest nipping in and taking a look.

V&A: Hollywood Costume

Another cattle market but worth the effort.  I was a bit nervous of this one as I remember dreading going round very static costume exhibitions as a child.  This exhibition uses lots of video and interviews to explain the costumes.   One section breaks down how the costume designer worked up the famous Indiana Jones look from a child’s drawing by Steven Spielberg.  Another looks at different costumes for actors playing Queen Elizabeth I.  Then finally on the way out we’re treated to a room packed with famous outfits.  Do look up as not all of them are on the ground.

If you like films and costumes this one is probably a must see.  Take sharp elbows.

 The British Museum: Shakespeare staging the world

This exhibition does an excellent job of placing Shakespeare in context of the world he was living in.  Given the RSC involvement I was expecting more recorded performances and more about the long term impact of the reinterpretation of Shakespeare on theatre and other media.  However a very good exhibition that’s not got long to run.

The British Museum: Crowns and ducats: Shakespeare’s money and medals

A little free exhibition of coins that is also almost over.  Interesting but hard to get round if more than a couple of people are there already!

The British Museum: Ritual and revelry the art of drinking in Asia

A fascinating exhibition of objects to do with drinking alcohol, water and tea in Asia over the past few thousand years.  Plus its free.

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