Tuesday, July 1, 2014

45 Days in London: Day 8

The Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum

First a word or two about life overseas: Jet lag is real, people. At random, uncontrollable times of the day it suddenly feels like I'm going under general anesthesia. It becomes impossible to remain conscious when this tiredness-that-is-more-like-a-deep-coma sets in. And it feels like you're coming out of anesthesia as it gradually wears off. So strange! Luckily, this mainly only happened during our first few days here. But I still feel it occasionally...especially if I get dehydrated.

Today was one of the 'general anesthesia' mornings. Fortunately, the only site on the schedule was the Victoria and Albert, which is just a few blocks from our flat. We could wander over there at our leisure, spend as much time as we liked, then wander back home again. The entrance alone is enough to take your breath away.

The V&A has a fabulous collection— everything from fashion to sculpture to books to art and antiquities. These social protest posters were especially fascinating. The jewelry exhibit was black-lit and amazing.

We saw the winners of a nationwide illustration competition, which I loved, but we barely had time to poke our noses in this entire roomful of children's books. You can bet I'll be back! (One of the best things about being here for an extended period of time...you don't have to see it all at once! It's like living in Southern California and having an annual pass to Disneyland. You can enjoy the attractions at your leisure knowing you can easily return, again and again.)

This is just begging to be painted! I love the woman in the hat, seated in the Rodin sculpture gallery. Watch for a future watercolor of this interior. (Don't worry--I'll edit out the two boys on the left--or at least their turquoise shorts.)

One of the more fascinating finds in the cast court (46A) was a baptismal font supported by 12 oxen. Mr. Cool was the first to spot it, saying, "Look, they have a font like the one in the temple." So fascinating. I would really like to know the history behind that one. It looks like they didn't know what it was for, so they topped it with glass and turned it into a table!

We also happened onto a roomful of huge paintings by an artist from India. He incorporated typical Indian symbolism into these contemporary works in a way that was very engaging. We loved the bold colors and the way they were displayed 3-dimensionally, like a science-fair project. It reminded me of an assignment I gave my class last year.

But I have to say, the part that excited me the most was the interior courtyard, which was lined on both sides by the most (and best) hydrangeas I have ever seen in my life. They were almost as tall as I am, and had the richest colors...ranging from bright magentas to deep blue-violets. I took dozens of photos to paint from. I must be a hydrangea at heart. The humid and mostly-temperate British climate is as refreshing and nourishing to me as it is to the hydrangeas.


British Film

In the evening we stayed in the flat and watched a British film called, Papadopoulos & Sons. It's a comedy-drama about a wealthy, mansion-dwelling but dysfunctional family who run out of money and move to a small flat in London have to run a Fish & Chip shop together. I loved the focus on family over worldliness and wealth, and there was a line toward the end that stayed with me: "The success is in the joy you feel." So true.

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