Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘art’

Hoo boy, at this rate I won’t finish my London posts until summer.  Eek!  Sorry for the slow pace, but life (and a sometimes slow internet connection, grr) gets in the way of blogging sometimes.  Day three of my London trip was jam packed, so this may get long, but this day had my favorite sights.

My first stop of the day was Portobello Road Market.

Portobello Road Market
storefront sewing machines
Portobello Road
sign shop
(more…)

Read Full Post »

In the late fall, I decided I needed a vacation. Work had been crazy, friends were having rough times, and so on. At first, I thought I would just take a week off from work, but stay in town. With the help of an airfare voucher and an ad for good fares to London, though, my vacation plan got much more grand. I had been to London once before, my senior year of college, but the visit had been cut very short. It was 1997, and I was supposed to fly from Boston to England on April 1st for about four days in London and a long weekend in Chichester, where a friend was getting married. Alas, April fooled us big time with a blizzard that delayed my trip three days. So, I spent less than 48 hours in London that trip, which made me eager to go back.

St. Pancras exterior

So, 15 years later, I got to actually spend my four days in London, in early December, and it was awesome.  I packed a lot into the days, but left knowing there was so much more I could have done.  I arrived in the morning, a little bleary from the long, overnight flight, but eager to get exploring.  After leaving my luggage at the hostel, I headed to King’s Cross/St. Pancras.  This is a transportation hub and shopping area, with two stations right next to each other.  King’s Cross is sleek and modern, while St. Pancras is ornate and Victorian.  Both house rail platforms, restaurants and shops.  St. Pancras is, at least to me, more picturesque, so it bore the brunt of my shutterbugging.

St. Pancras Station

ornate

Everywhere I looked there were lovely decorative elements, inside and out. And on the upper level of the station I stumbled upon the Olympic rings and a huge sculpture that I found charming and perfectly suited to such a busy place of departure and arrival.

Olympic rings at St. Pancras

statue

Honestly, one of my main reasons for visiting King’s Cross/St. Pancras was to check out Eat St., which is a spot where a variety of food trucks and vendors gather at lunchtime a few days a week. There were so many delicious sounding items that it took me a while to decide on my lunch. I finally settled on a pork taco from Buen Provecho and a noodle soup from Yum Bun.

pork taco

soup

After lunch I headed around the corner to the British Library. I think this was the only attraction I visited on both my trips to London, which isn’t really surprising, since I am an avid reader and majored in English. The Library, though, is rather different from what I remembered since it’s current site (created to bring together the parts of the collection that had been scattered around London) opened in 1997, but after my visit. My romantic side kind of prefers the old look, with the glass cases of manuscripts surrounded by two stories of shelves, but I have to admit that the new galleries are better organized and more informative. I found it thrilling to see the original manuscripts of books and authors I love, Austen, Bronte, Shakespeare, along with letters to and from royalty and other historical figures. This time I also really enjoyed the impressive collection of religious texts, many gorgeously illustrated, from all sorts of faiths. One of the temporary exhibits was on Dickens and his historical context, from which I learned a lot. Well, truly I retained only a little, but I have notes. (Yes, I am such a nerd that I take notes on vacation.)

British Library passageway

My final tourist stop of the day, though I was nearly falling down tired, was the Wellcome Collection. This place is a quirky museum that began with the personal collection of Sir Henry Wellcome and has expanded to include art and other exhibits that relate to health and medicine. Seriously, quirky. The main collection ranges from chastity belts and fertility charms to amputation saws and prosthetic limbs. There are rotating exhibits, as well. I was particularly taken with the Mexican votives in the Miracles and Charms exhibit. The votives, or miracle paintings, are painted on tin roof tiles or other small plaques and created in gratitude to God for deliverance from illness, accident, or some other difficulty. There were dozens of these works, and they were somehow both uniform (standard size and some very common compositions and motifs) and diverse (folksy to sophisticated and all sorts of stories from bandits to electrocution.) Fascinating stuff.

By then it was evening and, not having gotten much sleep on the flight the night before, I was exhausted. So after heading back to the hostel, I had no trouble at all going to sleep, even though it was only afternoon back home.

Read Full Post »

Web gems

If, like me, you are chilling at home on a rainy Sunday, you might enjoy some of these links that caught my eye recently:

These Steampunk Softies are just about the cutest, geekiest craft project I have ever seen.

I’ve got a Project Runway post in the works (those who know me in real life know that I have long been a huge fan.) This season, I am also following Project Project Runway, also from Craftzine, where folks play along with the PR challenges by making outfits for dolls. Maybe next season I will join in, though it would be a big time commitment.

I am also a huge Boston Red Sox fan (Jason Varitek and Dustin Pedroia being my particular favorites.)  A friend recently sent me the link to Bill Simmons’ entertaining take on this season’s Sox.

WanderMonster is a blog where a dad chronicles the creative collaboration between himself and his son. Dad gives the kid a paper with a drawing prompt with his lunch and posts the prompts and the subsequent drawings. I love this blog so much, and I especially loved the recent post about an imagined argument.

I adore these stunning National Park posters by Charley Harper. And some are available for a steal at the U. S. Government Bookstore.

I only recently discovered the style blog, Closet Confections, but she definitely had me with her Sassy sundress that is evocative of a Dr. Seuss book. Sounds silly, but it’s actually fabulous.

Let me know if you’ve stumbled upon any fabulous links lately.

Read Full Post »

I got to visit my parents in St. Louis after my conference trip to Chicago.  The timing was good, as my dad had just had surgery, so I was able to visit him, while my mom worked.  Most of the visit was spent just hanging out with my parents, but Mom and I did take some time to check out the Missouri Botanical Garden, one of Mom’s favorite places. I generally get out to visit my folks in the winter, so it was nice to be there at a time when the garden was in full bloom.  It really is an impressive place, with lots of different styles of garden, beautifully executed.  It is free for residents of St. Louis county and very reasonably priced for the rest of us.  Honestly, they must do a lot of fund-raising, because the quality is way above what one would expect for the admission price, especially once you see the number of Chihuly pieces the Garden acquired permanently after the exhibition of his work there several years ago.  Those glass installations are not cheap.

Mom and I started in the Climatron, a domed glass greenhouse filled with an amazing variety of stunning tropical plants.

I wish I had taken the photo above with Mom in it, because those plants are enormous!  The blooms were over her head.

See?  More Chihuly.  Mom and I liked the flamingo-like shapes of these, and they really glowed in their pool of sunlight.

And it wasn’t only the colorful things that caught our eyes.

I am guessing this plant is either carnivorous, and catches insects in these hanging pods or that they are for capturing water, with the prickly bits to keep critters from stealing the liquid.

Isn’t it amazing how much variety is in our world?  I love that there are always so many new things to see and wonder about! Anyway, after the Climatron, we wandered to Tower Grove House, which was originally the country home of the Garden’s creator, Henry Shaw.  It’s odd to think of it as a country house, when today the Botanical Garden is surrounded by city neighborhoods.

Of course, it’s easy to forget the city in the immediate surroundings of the house, such as the lovely formal garden, based on Shaw’s original design.

Next we headed to the expansive Japanese Garden.  While I tend to love showy, colorful landscapes, I was struck by the serene and ordered layout in this section.  It was absolutely gorgeous.

There were some flowers, of course, including irises, a favorite of mine.

And we got to feed lots of koi, whose colors and patterns were nearly as beautiful as the plants and flowers (though the photos don’t do them justice, due to the jostling for food.)

It was a hot day, so Mom and I were flagging by that point.  But on our way back to the Garden entrance we wandered through one of the rose gardens and the Orangerie, and enjoyed yet another Chihuly installation.

Really we only saw a portion of what the Garden has to offer.  There were several sections we didn’t see, so you could probably spend the better part of a day here.  Yet another jewel in St. Louis’s cultural crown.

Read Full Post »

Much like the arboretum, though I live near the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston I don’t go there frequently. I have visited the museum twice in the past couple weeks, though. First with a coworker to see the new exhibit, “Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass”, then with my brother to check out the annual “Art in Bloom” event. “Art in Bloom” is already over (it only last a few days each year), but the Chihuly exhibit will be at the MFA until August 7, and I definitely recommend a visit.

I’ve liked Dale Chihuly’s work since I first heard about the artist, while I was taking a glassblowing class for the short, unconventional winter term at my college. I’ve always been drawn to glass, color, and graceful shapes, and Chihuly’s art is a beautiful combination of all three.

Since I first became aware of the artist, his work has expanded from mostly cup, bowl, and platter shapes to include spiky pillars, sinuous chandeliers,

and juxtapositions of sleek, colorful glass against natural and weathered materials.

Each room in the exhibit housed a different style of glass sculpture or installation of many pieces.  One of my favorites, Ikebana Boat, was at the very beginning: a simple, rustic, wooden boat overflowing with colorful shapes that would fit well in a Dr. Seuss illustration.

The black backdrop (which is used throughout the exhibit) really sets off the piece, and I love the reflection in the sheet of glass that is the base of the display.

The next room had an assortment of vase-shaped pieces sprouting flower and vine motifs and showcasing methods of cutting and shaping the blown glass that were new to me.

In the claw-like part, those dots are air bubbles that are somehow evenly dispersed in the glass.  Wow!

The next section had many pieces inspired by Native American textiles and baskets.  The shapes in this part were more akin to the Chihuly works I was already familiar with, but the colors and patterns were more muted and clearly inspired by the crafts displayed with them.

From there, the exhibit moves on to a very dramatic room with a huge installation (the largest Chihuly installation to date, I believe), called Mille Fiori, made of glass shapes in a rainbow of colors sprouting from a platform that extends about sixty feet in the center of the room.  Sadly, I couldn’t get a picture that even comes close to capturing the drama of the piece.

The chandelier room was next, with six different chandeliers in different colors (and one made entirely of clear glass) composed of clusters of bulbs, buds, and curling, twirling tendrils.

The Persian Ceiling room was the only one with white walls.  In this room, the glass pieces (the first picture in this post shows a section of them – see if you can find the glass octopus) form the ceiling, with light shining through, and the white walls allow colorful designs to appear below the installation.

The final part of the exhibit, Neodymium Reeds on Logs, seemed the most contemporary to me, and certainly the most minimal.  It was striking and interesting, but I still can’t really decide if I like it.

While you can see a lot of the exhibit here, there is much more than I have shown you.  And the glass is much more beautiful and detailed in person.

This got pretty long, so I will save the “Art in Bloom” recap for another post.

Read Full Post »