Wednesday, July 21, 2010

and a sunday?

sunday didn't turn out quite like i expected. i had high, high hopes of visiting the rob ryan shop but was completely and utterly thwarted by the transportation system. okay, realistically, i could have taken a bus i think, but as soon as the tube employee said "bus" i shut down. there is only one place i take buses, and that is rome. feeling a little dejected, i altered my route to visit the natural history museum, which i've been really excited about, despite being 28 years old and not exactly in their intended demographic. dinosaurs? YES. stuffed (real) animals. YES. specimens in formaldehyde. YES. life-size models of whales? YES. petrified trees? YES. strange creatures i never knew existed? YES. i was pumped. and so were the five million small children surrounding me. that number may not be exaggerated. so downsides of the natural history museum: extremely wild children with no idea how to behave combined with lack of air conditioning. upside of the natural history museum, besides the specimens: hearing small children talk about what they were seeing, especially the ones with british accents. 'that's a quite large fox, isn't it, daddy? i saw a fox once whilst i was dreaming.' newsflash: small british children say 'whilst.' TO DIE FOR. but for serious, the museum was stunning, i just wish mommerdoodle was there to see it, since she's responsible for my love of natural history museums. (please forgive the poor quality images, most specimens were behind glass.)

slinking tiger

check out those antlers (note human to antler ratio). these were grown and shed every year.
how do you even hold up your head with that much antler?

this, apparently, is a type of possum.

i don't know what this is, but i liked his facial expression.
maybe a wolverine?

it's sort of like a hedgehog...

this is a vampire bat from the flying mammals case, which also included:

i don't know what the hell this is, but it was freaky.

it's a mole! cute and unsettling all at the same time!

this is some sort of fairy armadillo or something.


well, hello, mr. seal.

god, i love warthogs. and as you may have noticed, i was really into the
charming and bizarre facial expressions the animals ended up with.

speaking of, how great is this activity area?

can you spot the narwhal?

everything was going well until...

this was fascinating and sad. it was a massive case of hummingbirds all mounted as if in the wild, hundreds in one case. as the label next to it said, this would be considered unethical now. the case dates from ca. 1819.

and this is a MONDO slice of a sequoia that was felled in 1892.
look at the diameter of that thing!

once you get to the top, where the sequoia is, this is the view. not too shabby indeed.

unfortunately this is as close to a hedgehog i've come here in the hedgie homeland. and this one was behind glass, behind glass, in some lab.

natural history museums are in some ways a thing of the past, the collection of their specimens no longer an accepted practice. it was interesting to note the fading and signs of wear on many of the specimens in this museum, which labels noted was due to their having been collected in the 19th and early 20th centuries. the museum still hosts an active research institute, but the research takes place according to 21st-century ethical standards. they're tricky places, these natural history museums, but my childhood was built around one so i'm partial to their efforts. and i really like seeing animals i didn't know existed.

there was a saturday a few days ago?

st. paul's from the tate modern

wow, things have been a little crazy here. that really means i've been driving myself a little crazy. this past weekend was my last in london, so i wanted to fit in a gazillion things, literally. saturday was a shopping and museum day ALL DAY LONG. started out walking down the portobello road market and into little shops here in there, including couverture, which was super, super cute. ventured into all saints spitalfields, where essentially all of the clothing is black, gray, and white. a little slice of heaven for me, and to top it off their expansive storefront was absolutely teeming with vintage sewing machines. there must have been hundreds:

i also trekked out to the lisa stickley shop and hit up both heals and habitat. and then, then there was paperchase, a whole three floors devoted to paper products. believe it or not all of this took nearly all day and A LOT of walking. i finished the day with a return visit to the tate modern, which is open til 10 on saturdays. some (okay, many) favorite sights:

it's hard to explain, but i LOVE robert morris's felt sculptures.

glenn ligon's neon america.

the warhol room, from ceiling to floor.

oh, joseph beuys, you're so delightfully bizarre sometimes.

fifty years of russian propaganda posters.

i always have a soft spot for barnett newman. here are adam & eve.

mmm, pollock's summertime.

this clyfford still blew me away. the blue was neon and celestial all at once.

and finally, cy tombly. electric red-orange dripping down the canvas.

after a coffee at the tate cafe, i made my way back to the southwark station and waited for my train, alone.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

please, no comments.

proof that england loves their rpatz a lot more than kstew:

(just ignore how rpatz's face gets a little warped on the poster container.)

another shopping post...sort of.

it probably seems a bit odd to do two posts back to back, but i haven't been writing in any journal on this trip, mostly because i'm not sure i'll ever be able to write without pain after so much note-taking. i would, therefore, like to write it all down when i have the chance. and that chance is now.

today was my first day at the british museum print room, and it was markedly less pleasant than windsor. i got to see some ridiculous drawings, but i was made to feel a little guilty or like they were doing me some amazing favor all the while. eh. it's true, i'm not a fancy curator or professor, but my interest is just as valid, and i love these drawings fiercely. what can you do? it can't all be peachy. while at the british museum, though, i finally got a chance to see the exhibition that got this whole trip started:

there it is, the british museum, home to the parthenon marbles, mummies galore, and many, many italian renaissance drawings. (i deleted a bit i wrote about stolen antiquities.)

oh, and there's verrocchio again, all huge on the front of a museum!!! egad!

well, my excitement at seeing verrocchio plastered on the front of the british museum only lasted so long. because then i found myself in one of the many museum shops, and i realized that i was going to be seeing a lot, A LOT of verrocchio today. note cube? check. coffee mug? check. tote bag? check. tea towel? check. pencil puzzle thingies? check. tshirts? check.

now, you may be thinking, hey, that's great that verrocchio made it on a tshirt. i sort of felt that way myself until...

upon closer inspection i realized this wasn't just a tshirt with one of verrocchio's most amazing drawings on it. no, they, whoever they is, felt the need to add SILVER METALLIC INK TO THE HAIR. (click for detail.) because, apparently, the drawing wasn't enough on its own, it needed SILVER METALLIC INK. and then there's this:

now when i first saw this, i thought, "hmm, i wonder why there's all this weird chicken stuff???" oh, wait, it's because they took the renaissance drawing you see on the plaque and MADE IT RED AND PUT IT ON EVERYTHING IMAGINABLE.

i wasn't kidding.

i know i'm being a poor sport about all of this, i should be totally pumped that this exhibition has done so well. and i am, i was beyond pleased to see people spending time in front of the drawings and not rushing through the exhibition. (despite the fact that i desperately wanted to tell one couple to take it outside, geez, if you can't make it through a drawings exhibition without constantly pawing at one another...) but it really bothers me when images are fundamentally altered to make them more "accessible" or, let's be honest, more "buyable." i, and many others, love verrocchio for verrocchio, and we really don't need silver ink to be slapped onto the image. and to think i was so excited to see verrocchio in the underground -- i had no idea the level of merchandising that awaited me. tomorrow, back to windsor

a quick p.s. for jen:

you know how i feel about cheetahs wearing fancy collars and leashes....

so leonardo and i were having an espresso...

oh, hi there. what happened to those last four days? well, the weather went from sweltering to freezing, i rode a lot of trains, and have taken approximately 100 pages of hand-written notes. in pencil, and you know how i feel about pencils. so i spent monday, tuesday, and wednesday examining drawings at windsor castle. i don't know what i expected from windsor, but i have to tell you, it's pretty gosh darn cute, especially with that ROYAL ESTATE and all. it's really quite charming, and my visits to the study room of the castle have been phenomenal. the people who work there are beyond nice (and trust me, i've experienced the opposite of beyond nice in print rooms). i sent a list of the things i wanted to see ahead of time, and it was a wishful thinking kind of list, sort of like,"yeah, sure, they're never going to let me see this many leonardos." actually they've let me see so many more than i ever expected, and in fact just pull out box after box of leonardo drawings. hello, heaven, it's nice to be here. seriously, it's been crazy unbelievable to sit in front of leonardo drawings for as long as i like, just me and the drawing, which somehow works out to be me and leonardo, face to face, hand to hand. i thought about trying to find an image online to show you, to give you the tiniest glimpse into what i'm seeing, but it was too hard to choose, and nothing can compare to how it looks when you're sitting in front of the real deal. instead, i thought i'd show you a bit of the castle:

by the time i get to this point, i've already shown my passport twice and will show it once more.

windsor also has a cath kidston, which has super cute window displays mixing vintage goods with her wares. how hilarious is that tea cozy?

and the other day, as i was walking in the drizzle waiting for my appointment, i saw this, an alexander girard bike. it was, to say the least, beautiful. you have to click on the image to see some of the details. because this was obviously someone's bike i didn't want to obsessively photograph it, but just so you know, there was even imagery on the handlebars. A-MAZ-ING.

and now, for something less amazing, i couldn't have you thinking that i just lurve everything i've encountered here. that right there is a tequila flavored lollipop with a freaking worm in it. a real worm. "specially 'grown' (!?!?!?!) for human consumption." um, no. while i think it's probably some grubby worm, it looks suspiciously like a caterpillar, and i literally recoiled when i saw these, merchandised on an entire wall of edible insects.

apologies for leaving you with this nightmarish vision.