Thank you, Elise, for allowing me to ‘guest post’ on your fabulous blog. [Elise's note: It's amazing having you pop over for a visit from your own fabulous blog Brevity is the mother of invention]
Like Elise, I have been travelling locally recently, in short, to London, half an hour’s train journey from home.
I’m not one for paying to get in to exhibitions, I usually go to the free ones, or peruse the collection. But for Christmas, I was given a ticket to go to the Grayson Perry exhibition at The British Museum – so I had to go, of course (and I wanted to). I was a bit nervous; because all I knew about Perry was that he wore dresses sometimes. We arrived at the British Museum – such a gorgeous building inside and out.
After our packed-lunches, we tripped up the curvy stairs to the exhibition. The first thing we saw was this bike. I over-heard a mum (or auntie) telling a little boy that Perry is a ‘very funny man,’ and felt reassured.
Inside we separated and I did what I always do – I read all the notices and all the labels (as well as looking at the art). I instinctively read all the writing – but this time I was squatting down and scribbling whole passages into my notebook. I even sketched something (very poorly). I couldn’t tell you my favourite piece, because the exhibition was more of a piece of art in itself than a series of pieces. I loved it. There were discussions about the sacred, about shrines and souvenirs, maps and craft, with an eye to provenance, authenticity and age. The exhibition is called “The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman” and as well as being generous, beautiful and dense with collected information – it was funny. And he’d compiled the whole thing with great care – everything had its place. “A relaxed, humble, ever-curious love of stuff is central to my idea of being an artist,” Grayson Perry, 2011
So we topped the day with the British Museum and tailed it at the Royal Academy of Arts for the David Hockney “A Bigger Picture” exhibition. We paid for this one too – very unlike us – but if you’re paying for one, why not go nuts and pay for two?
As an aside, I’ll explain that I live in a small village about fifty miles north of London. It takes between 35 and 50 minutes to get to Central London by train, but I just need to step off the train at Euston and I start spending money, so I try to save up the things I want to do and do them all at once.
So, after a short visit to the Turners at the beloved National Gallery, and a cuppa, we wended our way to the Thames’ South Bank – the beautiful bit with the twinkly lights – and refreshed our weary bodies with hot dinners on a boat/restaurant, we headed to our 9pm booking at the RA. We were tired by then and bone-cold. We tried to get in early to the exhibition, but they wouldn’t let us, so instead we read the leaflet sitting on the stairs.
The thing I’d heard about this exhibition was that the pictures were ‘so life affirming’ and ‘huge.’ The pictures are made up from loads of canvases stuck together. Hockney focuses on the seasons in one spot – what happens to the trees, and the fields inside a year – why that matters and how it makes sense. It’s hard to explain on paper what the exhibition does to you – it’s spacious, you are almost in the pictures. But at the same time you want more space to look at the pictures from a distance. The picture that struck us the most was the one below from the Woldgate Woods series – one view in all four seasons, and ‘A Closer Grand Canyon,’ 1998.
If you’re in London, go and see it. You like me, might be tempted to download the ipad app that he used for one of his series of pictures. I had a go, but perhaps I ought to leave it to the experts!
For more amazing words and images by Debbie, check out her blog about her life as a writer and artist in beautiful Bucks, UK: Brevity is the mother of invention