Vulnerability, freedom and exposure.
The National Portrait Gallery was incredible because the human subject holds immediate intrigue, the white halls decked with images of people, the joint attitudes of the subject and the artist creating an inimitable atmosphere. It seems to me that all other subject matter implicates the human subject, either as an indirect product or as a personification. Maybe it’s what ensures that the internet is abuzz with eager bloggers swapping opinions and gushing about sepia tone photos and deep inner pain.
The Tate Modern has the imposing atmosphere of a church, I recall walking towards it feeling self conscious and wondering what was going to be asked of me inside. How to pray? Whether I believed at all?
I sat on one of the mezzanine floors, on their engulfing black leather couches with a little black leather notebook drafting a sad letter to Alan and having a little cry, a little cry in the Tate. I was seated next to an elderly man who was also expressing a clandestine emotion in such a sacred house of art: drowsiness. But their collections were exceptional. There was a moment when passing between the Joseph Beuyes room and a collection of Picabias, Bacons, Giocomettis, etc when I glanced up and there was a Calder. How blessed I would have been had it fallen on my head.
My parents and I also saw the Rain Room, an installation artwork at the Barbican Centre, that consisted of a large darkened hall with a raised grid floor and a grid suspended from the ceiling from which rain falls loudly and wetly. As you move through the room the rain slowly gives way for you creating a small dry space around you. If you rush too quickly into the water you get drenched. It’s a sensory anomaly, you hear and smell and see rain, but you feel nothing.
The installation gave me the feeling of a non-newtonian liquid, hit hard and you feel the force of a solid, approach slowly and softly and you feel fluid.
The food in London tastes better than any other food that I’ve ever tasted. At Pret A Manger, I had Thai Lentil and Coconut Dahl Soup which may well have been the sensory highlight of my trip.
In all of the exquisitely stocked museums and classical art galleries there wages the debate: are the cultural artifacts, which are from every imaginable dynasty of every known territory, in their rightful place in an English Museum, or should they be returned to their places of origin?
Somehow, for me, this dilemma has a culinary extension. Could France do French cuisine better than the English? Could those spring rolls be as good in Thailand as they are on Putney Bridge? Could Chutney Mary exist as a swanky Indian restaurant in India? I think not.
And in response to the Colonial quandary of sanctioning artefacts, I will take a pragmatic approach: I would like to see them, so it helps if they are in one place.