From the land between Wake and Dream. (sea_thoughts) wrote,
From the land between Wake and Dream.

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Easter Outing - London

Thanks to everyone who responded to my last entry about the death of my best friends' dad. I met up with my friends a couple of weeks ago today since I was in town to see a concert with my parents. I introduced them to a new café, we sat there and talked about films and actors and boys. They laughed, I laughed, and I think it was good for them to talk about something else for a change.

The memorial service is this Friday. I hope the weather is nice. It's taking place in the New Forest and apparently we're having a hog roast afterwards, since that was his favourite meal.

I went to see the Manet exhibition at the Royal Academy with my dad today (nearly forgot my wallet, good thing I remembered before reaching the bus stop!). My coach was early and Dad managed to catch an earlier train than planned, so after dropping off my bags at the left luggage facility at Victoria, we went to the V&A. After looking at the medieval and Renaissance religious exhibition, I spotted a pagoda and dragged Dad into the China room. From there, we went into the Japan room and oh. my. God. The furniture they have in that section is gorgeous. Dad and I kept gasping and gushing over each exhibit, especially the Mazarin Chest. Pictures do not do these pieces justice. Even in the dimmed light of the exhibition room, the lacquer and inlaid mother of pearl made them shimmer and glimmer as if they were magical.

After finally tearing ourselves away from the Japan room, we went upstairs to see some wood carving by a sculptor Dad had recently discovered (Grinling Gibbons, what a fabulous name). This was on the 6th floor (that would be the 7th floor for my American & Canadian readers). Neither of us had ever been up there before, mainly because the V&A is so huge and the exhibits always tend to be on the ground floor. We took the lift to the 6th floor and emerged into the biggest collection of ceramics either of us had ever seen. It was more like a warehouse than a museum, with glass cases full of pottery and figurines reaching up to the ceiling. Unlike the rest of the museum, which is low lit in order to a) keep exhibits in their best condition or b) have a dramatic effect, these rooms were flooded with light: natural light poured in from the ceiling since we were practically on the roof and was augmented by the lights in the corners of the rooms. Both Dad and I were immediately cheered and amazed by this massive collection, and we hadn't even come to see this collection. Grinling Gibbons was in the furniture collection, beyond the ceramics. The furniture collection was amazing in itself (though it suffered from comparison with the Japanese pieces we'd seen downstairs), with all kinds of furniture of different periods jumbled together as if this really were a warehouse. Dad had some nostalgic moments with the 50s cupboards and 60s chairs. There was even a 'chair bench', which was a bench that had different chair backs constructed on it so you could sit against the different seats and look at them from a new perspective. If you are in the V&A soon, please go up to the 6th floor and take a look at this collection and the ceramics (which have to be seen to be believed).

Dad and I then had lunch in Pierinos, where he ordered a 'light' salad and I had spaghetti pomodoro. Dad's salad turned out to be huge, but he still remembers the massive calzone he once had there, so I don't know what he expected!

After lunch, we had to catch the tube to Green Park; Dad made me jog to the Royal Academy, so I was boiling by the time we arrived, even though I'd told him they wouldn't stop us entering if we were a little late. Dad really enjoyed himself and the exhibition notes were very good at pointing out how Manet challenged the concepts of the time by blurring the line between portraits and 'street scenes', 'group scenes' and various other genres of painting that had previously been quite separate. It was great to see masterpieces like Dejeuner sur l'herbe in person, but the low lighting and the heat did make me a little sleepy.

Then we went back to Victoria, had a drink, collected my luggage, and got the train back to Ashford where Dad had left his car.

Tags: family, london, real life, visiting
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