I've just got home from a trip to London which featured lots of Art, Spring blossoms, Museums, Sunshine, the Thames, Suffragettes, Parks, Authors and Mystery.
We stayed near Crystal Palace, so a visit to the park was a must, it has so many interesting things! The area and park is named after the Great Exhibition of 1851 which was re-located here from Hyde Park; it was a huge glass conservatory exhibition area (a crystal palace!) designed by Joseph Paxton (he also designed the great conservatory at Chatsworth and its gardens)
This is what the impressive crystal palace looked like, but it was sadly destroyed by fire in 1936. Nowadays you can still see some of the foundation arches, balustrades, stairways and sphinxes.
The park also contains stone dinosaurs designed by Benjamin Waterhouse Watkins in 1854, they had just restored and painted the one in the far left of the picture, but I liked the unrestored ones better; I recognise that we need to preserve and look after them for the future but I like to see their age and how the weather and nature has claimed them, its almost as if they are alive and live as part of the landscape. (More of Crystal Palace Park in part 2)
The next day I went to the Dulwich Picture Gallery which was the first public art gallery in the world and was even visited by Constable, Monet and Van Gogh! and John Soane designed the building (the John Soanes Museum, which was his house is also really great, near the British Museum its filled with his wonderful collections, sculpture and artefacts)
I was there to see the 'Nikolai Astrup: Painting Norway' exhibition; I didn't really know what to expect as I'd never heard of him before but I loved it so much. He grew up and lived in Jolster, Norway with his large family, painting and producing woodcuts of the amazing Norwegian landscape mixed with a bit of folklore and mysticism. The above prints show a winter tree which looks like a man stretching out of the ground and the background mountains are made up of a nude woman lying down. Must find some wood now to make some woodcuts of my own!
Whenever I'm at the Dulwich Picture Gallery I always pop in to see a favourite Rembrandt his portrait of 'Jacob de Gheyn III'. I love the detail in such a small face, the eyes that pierce through you and the grey background full of colour, its amazing. It's been stolen 4 times from the gallery and is the second most frequently stolen artwork in the world!
The Mausoleum there is a beautiful, eerie yet reflective space and this time it featured 'Forest Folk' an interactive video piece which responds to your movement, see the video below-
I then walked through spring blossoms and saw cute cottages to get the train from Herne Hill to Victoria.
Where I walked past Buckingham Palace (cue tons of tourists with selfie sticks!) and through the daffodils in Green Park to Oxford Street. I then walked through Hyde Park and along the Serpentine Lake (where the open water swimming events in the London 2012 olympics were held!) to get to the Serpentine Sackler Gallery.
Das Institut a collaboration between artists Kerstin Bratsch and Adele Roder of installational drawings created with such materials as neon, projections, stained glass and inks with solvents
Just that night I learned that the amazing architect Dame Zaha Hadid had died and she designed the Sackler Serpentine gallery, it was nice to have been able to experience one of her beautiful spaces; I love the darkened brick chambers for installations and the swoopy roof of the cafe, thank you Zaha for all you did for architecture, women and the world, you'll be missed.
My next stop was the main reason I was in Hyde Park, to visit the Serpentine Gallery Hilma Af Klint exhibition.
She is said to be one of the pioneers of abstract art, but because she feared being misunderstood and didn't want her work shown for 20 years after her death, everyone always assumes that Kandinsky was the first, but Hilma's work from the early 20th Century predates his, go Hilma, Queen of Abstract Art!
Her work is an incredible mixture of science and mysticism, botany & the spiritual, the minuscule & the cosmic, harmonious & challenging; I was in complete awe and will be researching her and her work much more.
--Part 2 coming soon featuring the Thames Barrier, Artillery, Gormley, Wildlife, Anthropology, Charlotte Bronte & Suffragettes!--