Tuesday, August 5, 2014

45 Days in London: Day 43

Appointment at Tate Britain

Okay, this might be the coolest of everything I've done in London so far. I was able to make an appointment to spend the morning in the Prints and Drawings room of the Tate Britain. This is a bigger deal than it sounds, since the Tate owns more than 37,000 of Turner's works on paper.
You can request anything you'd like to see, and they have it ready for you when you arrive. Your own private showing.
I requested to see some pieces I'd seen 15 years ago there—part of an exhibit called Turner on the Seine.

Some are unfinished, just sketches—you'll never see these exhibited. Here especially (even though Turner died in 1850), I felt like I was having an intimate dialogue with the artist...like he was right there in the room, and we were having a conversation.

My dad had also told me that in that room you can see a gorgeous little watercolor of a waterfall by Thomas Girtin that is probably the most beautiful watercolor he's ever seen. So I requested to see that one too.

The woman ran a search and said it was loaned to another exhibition and never returned. (Art theft!) But she did pull out these two gems from and old portfolio Girtin and Turner had worked on together. She turned page after page while I ooohed and aaahed.  At one point I said, "We're past our time. I don't want to keep you on your lunch hour." And her droll reply was, "Don't think I'm not enjoying this too!"

Tate to Tate boat

More coolness: there is a boat that takes you from the Tate Britain to the Tate Modern along the Thames. Of course we chose that over the tube! In just about twenty minutes we had cruised down the Thames and were at the next museum.


Matisse's Escargot is part of the permanent collection at the Tate Modern
The Tate Modern had a special exhibition of Matisse Cut-outs: My favorites of all his work! We saw room after room of wonderful shapes and delightful colors, plus the Oceania series he'd done for his own bedroom, and the originals designs for the Chapelle du Rosarie de Vence in France—everything from stained-glass windows to clergy robes—his magnum opus. Matisse said he “wanted those entering the chapel to feel themselves purified and lightened of their burdens.” Very inspiring. Last we saw the piece that always makes me smile: Escargot (The Snail).

Dinner at the Tate Modern
Museum food is notoriously pricey and disappointing. However, some of the best—and most reasonably priced—food we had in London was in the cafeteria near the exit at the Tate Modern. We were all thrilled with our selections.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

photo by Brinkhoff/Moegenburg, via BBB
Our last show in London was also one of our favorites: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (based on the novel by Mark Haddon, which I read years ago in California). I'm running out of superlatives to describe London Theatre. The performances were astonishing. They used every possible device to put the audience inside the mind of a teen with Asberger's. We were blown away by the graphics, the set design, the sound design, and all the use of technology, in addition to the brilliant acting. It was quite the experience.

There is a phenomenon in London that is like our family fantasy come true: They serve Haagen-Dazs during the interval at every single theatre we visited. At first we resisted. But little by little they hooked us, and we paid the exhorbitant 3-4 pounds to share a tiny tub of our favorite ice cream.

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