Monday, June 18, 2018

A great way to break into my 60s! Part 1

By the time I get this blog post finished I will be officially 'in my 60's'.  Nothing has changed except one digit, the 0 has changed into a 1; my wrinkles are still just as wrinkly, my age spots look more like freckles joining together and arthritis continues to try and get the better of me!  Age is just a number although I believe it is also a state of mind.

People keep asking me when I'm going to stop running marathons and fund-raising for Alzheimer's Research UK and my answer is always the same - when I can no longer put one foot in front of the other.  Running helps keep the arthritis in my feet and knees at bay so why would I stop?  I have had to adapt or even ditch some of my hobbies - I can't manage pottery nowadays but I still do a bit of mosaic.  Knitting and crochet will always be with me but in smaller doses.  Embroidery is now entirely dependent upon the state of my eyesight so I'll just keep going until I can't manage it any more.  Gardening remains my passion so the other things have to fit in with that.

What did we do to celebrate?

After years of not having any birthday presents, preferring to donate the money to charity, Mike put his foot down firmly and so I've had 2 wonderful adventures and a present: A trip into London to view the 250th Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy (197 photos) followed by lunch in one of our favourite Indian restaurants, a lovely new bag and then a visit to a special garden I'd been longing to see with the added bonus of chatting with its creator (a mere 98 photos).

Excited birthday girl heading out for a big adventure (complete with new bag!)

It has been a fabulous couple of days but I will have to be selective with the photos or my blog with freeze!  Here's Part 1:

The 250th Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy London

On the train journey in I read my book for a while (The God of Small Tings by Arundahti Roy) but as  soon as we reached outer London I got the camera out to snap whatever caught my eye.  This was very different from my usual snap-the-big-tall-buildings approach plus the window was rather dirty so there's a grainy effect to them which I quite like:

Who does this graffiti? What are they trying to say?

The blurred greenery contrasted with the starkness of the buildings

Bend it!


Red brick against grey concrete

The movement of the train against the brick pattern gave a sort of leopard print effect.  Plus the reflection in the glass gave extra shapes to the grey portion of the building.

A rather blurry industrial scene but with interesting reflections

The bright red of the London bus cut a striking image against the stark grey concrete

My knees guarding my new bag

When we arrived at Charing Cross station the first thing we did was visit the toilets.  If ever we take a journey I always need to go as soon as we arrive (this is not an age thing, Ive always been the same!).   We had our loose change ready but apparently the  toilets are free now so we donated our change to the Samaritans who were doing some sort of cyclothon on the concourse to raise much-needed funds.

Then we headed off through Trafalgar Square to our destination.

This artist had been given a pretty floral wreath

We were interested to see what was on the 4th Plinth in the square:

The sculpture, entitled "The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist" was created by Michael Rakowitz as a recreation of a statue destroyed by Isis in 2015.  He did not, however, want to recreate an exact copy of the original work which stood in the ancient city of Nineveh near the site of modern day Mosul.  He used 10,500 empty date syrup cans to create it!

Elsewhere in the Square a stage was being erected for a live opera production

We walked through some of the back streets and my eye was drawn ever-upwards as is often the case as some of the most beautiful features of these old buildings are high up:

The flags are to celebrate 250 years of the Summer Exhibition

That's where we were heading for lunch - the oldest Indian restaurant in London

The Horses of Helios statue in Piccadilly

I found the next photo on Pinterest and it shows 100 of the flags designed by artist Joe Tilson, in Regent Street, taken from above.

Don't they look amazing against the cream-coloured stone of the buildings.

Before we visited I had watched a video narrated by Grayson Perry in his own inimitable style so I had a good idea what I wanted to see!  As always there are some exhibits which make you cross and others that take your breath away.

I've tried to be selective with my photos but there are still loads.............

The first thing you see as you enter the exhibition is this massive hanging sculpture 'Royal Valkyrie' by Portugese sculptor Joana Vasconcelos.  It's a mixture of fabric, ornaments, felt applique and yarn (crochet)

I thought this bright Poppy design would look good as a hooked rug for beneath a hall table

This was a birds eye view of streets and houses stitched onto what looked like handmade paper or fabric.

I chatted with this lady in the queues to get in and I asked if I might take her photo as I thought her outfit looked great.  She also had an amazing tattoo around her neck.

I also loved the photos of the 2 old people standing naked, hand in hand outside their beach hut!

I think its worth quoting the whole of this famous poem, 'Leisure' by William Henry Davies to remind us to look around and soak up our surroundings, especially as everyone seems to be so very busy nowadays (and often just staring at the screen of their phones at every available moment):


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

There was quite a lot of fabric/paper/tapestry/crochet this time.  This was created using felt and is entitled 'Anthro Earth'.

British Artists Series #1.  Not even knitted very well and who's it supposed to be?

As always there were plenty of things at which I rolled my eyes!  Washing-up gloves decorated with 'love heart sweets' with rubbish on them - why?

This portrait was stunning.

Banksy at his very best.  Straight to the heart of the nonsense that is 'Brexit'!  See how the heart has sticking plasters attached.  Sadly it will take more than plasters to heal this mess.

'Europe Running Through My Veins'.  Another comment on Brexit with embroidery decorating an iphone cover.

Mixed media with embroidery entitled 'Map Mundi 1'

Even cross stitch made an appearance with this vintage photo!  It's entitled 'Via con me (dreaming of you)'.

Thinking back to what I said about the poem, I noticed that no-one was looking at the glorious ceiling so I zoomed in on one of the angels:

There's my very own angel walking towards me.

This next one annoyed me immensely as it wasn't even crocheted well.  Oooh look, a shop dummy covered in treble crochet in bright colours.  It's entitled 'Body' (how very imaginative) and sold for £2900.  Grrr!

The entrance to the next room was framed by these 2 decorative sculptures.

One was  decorated in nuts, bolts, cogs and nails.

The other in old bits of jewellery

They made me smile as they appealed to the Womble in me as I hoard things like that!  As did this heart below.  I've always been drawn to heart motifs.

Then came a piece I'd been fascinated to see up close having seen it in the video by Grayson Perry.  It's a bear created out of an oriental carpet.  Yes I know it's ridiculous and arty-farty but it was done so skillfully.

I love his round tummy

And his feet have tassel shoes!

This was  entitled 'Eggy Pop' by Gary Miller, an image of Iggy Pop, and it was made out of eggshells reinforced with fibreglass.

Based on the famous Einstein quote, "Science without religion is lame, Religion without Science is blind", Stephen Hawkings is seen here as himself and as a nun.

We spent ages in the next room, the Architects models/drawings, as there were some amazing models on display this year (it's sometimes rather boring but not this time).  As we pulled into London on the train we noticed how the skyline was being transformed with many different shapes of tall buildings and the models we saw here were inspiring.

The model below called to me straight away with it's beautiful tent-like roof.  Do you know what it is?  It's Google HQ, Mountain View.

In the next room the entrance was dominated by these gigantic wooden sculptures.

This collage entitled 'The Battle of Burlington House' was created entirely out of cut up drinks cans joined with copper wire!

I wondered about the significance of the title as one of the entrances to the Royal Academy is via Burlington House.  Does it just hint at the battle of an artist to get their work displayed in the exhibition or is it something entirely different?

'Curio' reminded me of Romanesco Broccoli!

I only snapped the next 2 exhibits because they made me mutter "Really?" loud enough for a lady nearby to laugh in agreement!

I don't care what Grayson Perry said about it.  Is a piece of laser-cut metal really a piece of outstanding art?

That's more like it.  A pleasing shape and colour.

I'm sharing this for the beautiful doors not the ridiculous sculpture on the plinth!

This pattern and colourway would make a gorgeous dress fabric

This next piece by Cathy de Monchaux is stunning.  We've seen her work on display before but this amazing sculpture was not for sale.  It's entitled 'Refuge' and is created using copper wire and mixed media.

'Squall', looked like a coiled snake

On close examination I realised it was covered in pheasant feathers

I loved this piece entitled  'Geh√§utete Landschaft' (which translates as 'skinned landscape' I think), also not for sale.  It is by Anselm Kiefer and was created using emulsion, oil, shellac, lead, metal, clay and gold leaf on canvas and wood.
I've included this Bill Jacklin painting entitled 'Singer in the Square' for Mike as he's one of his favourite artists.  Yours for a mere £52,500!

There was a lot of political comment this year, which is no surprise given the state of everything going on at the moment, and this next piece really resonated with me.  Out of the political pieces I think this and the Banksy were my favourites.  

It's entitled 'Inferno', by Tobias Hill and is a screenprint decorated with 23 carat red gold leaf.  It is available as a limited edition print (50 copies) for £3000.

So why did I like it so much?  Well it's all in the detail!  Mike had walked past it just giving it a sideways glance but when he saw me standing there laughing he came over for a closer look.  It is choc-full of satirical observations, many more than I've captured here:


I just snapped this lady from behind 'cos her dress resonated with the artwork on display.

The next sculpture, entitled 'Young Academian', was fab and fun.  There was a real sense of movement created with the mannequin leaning forwards with her enormous pile of books being carried.

I want those boots so much - they were the first thing Mike noticed and commented that he knew exactly why I liked this sculpture (he knows me so well!).

I loved the fabric of her dress which had been treated with Dutch wax.

Then we had a walk through areas not previously open to the public

There were several works by students of the Royal Academy on display, many showing studies of human musculature.

A wooden shoe set upon the wooden floor.

The space between 2 buildings

Then it was time for a short walk to lunch and a scrummy curry before heading for home.


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