If, by any chance, you have called by in the last few days and wondered why I had gone all quiet on you (has she been bested by technology? Has she been flattened by a larger than usual piece of furniture? Has she been finished off by a killer bee?) you may be interested to know that none of your worst fears lay behind the silence. I have been in London with OV who was on duty at Westminster Abbey. This is an annual opportunity for OV to pace the ancient cloisters and meet people from all around the world and for myself (plus OV at times) to catch up with the galleries and, on occasion, ‘do’ a show.
This year’s exhibitions included the Millais at Tate Britain, Antiquities at the Royal Acadamy and The Terracotta Warriers at the British Museum. Now, any of you who have wandered the streets of London will know that there is a particular quality to the paving stones thereof which, when combined with rapid walking between venues (hopping on and off the occasional bus) wearing the wrong clothes (too hot indoors, too cold out) and negotiating more steps than usually encountered in a month, leads to a curious condition that I call London Legs. This ailment, together with Burning Foot-ball somewhat blights the otherwise delightful ‘week in Westminster’. The foot condition is partly OV’s fault, as he is the fastest walker in the nation and literally runs me off my feet as I plead for mercy. (By the end of the week I produce my daily bus pass and, muttering things like ‘must get full value from this’, am ‘posted’ onto a bus home – to our cloister flat – somewhat like a parcel.)
However, back to the title of this post. Imagine my delight in the Chinese exhibition as, standing before a case explaining how the soldiers were constructed, I read the following: ‘The technology used to construct the legs was based on that used for making drainpipes’. And there, in the case, was a section of 2000+ year old drainpipe and a half-constructed leg. The ‘drawing’ sensation in my own legs – the result of fast walking and slow exhibition viewing, had, by then, reached a point where I felt as if they had doubled in circumference below the knee and that their weight had trebled. I stood looking at the drainpipe (which was very chunky – think elephant’s foot) and light dawned. Two steps to the right and I could have joined the terracotta army and NO-ONE WOULD HAVE NOTICED!
Small wonder their legs were so thick – they’ve been standing on them for over 2000 years!
The other exhibitions mentioned: Millais – superb (even though I was dogged by a little old lady who would keep walking in front of everyone and, almost pressing her nose on each painting, obscured the view for a dozen people around her – quite oblivious to the fact of course. Grrr.)
I still love the Pre-Raphaelite colours the best – Hookers green is amazing set against rich purple.
Hockney on Turner (also at Tate Britain) was wonderful (and free) and I spent a happy hour there sketching and making notes. The ‘line and light’ section was extremely informative and I shed the years there and had a go at one of the children’s activities!
The history exhibition at the RA was very interesting and explained why some artists (eg Turner) had made such detailed drawings of the insides of cathedrals – commissioned of course, as a historical record, before the advent of photography.
And the Terracotta Warriers – yes, go and see them. Stand and stare into their faces and allow the wonderful calm of the ages come upon you. Oh, and don’t miss the bronze birds – particularly the stork, which looks as if it caught its fish two minutes ago.
Before I go – for those of you who asked – I went to see the ‘crack’ at Tate Britain. I came. I saw. I went and had a cup of tea. Enough said.
Back to the domestic tidy up…. where has OV left his stole?