Friday, 5 June 2009

What I did on my holidays..... Part One

...or, rather, going to London yesterday for the Buyer's Day at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, but as we're pretty skint and I can't see us jetting off to exotic climes anytime soon, this will have to suffice as a holiday. Sad, but very, very true.

First of all, it would be cheaper to hire a gold-plated Cadillac to drive us up to London than to pay the usurious amounts of dosh that British Rail were demanding for two Travelcards from Farncombe to London Waterloo at 8.25am. Twenty-nine bloody quid and fifty pence. Each. That's 59 of your hard-earned English pounds for two of us to get to town and back. We had no choice, we had to pay, but I grumbled very loudly (in my head) while handing the plastic over. Ho-hum.

The journey itself was actually pretty okay, the train wasn't packed, we got to sit down and I only got my elbow knocked twice by people so, although for the price that I paid I would have expected a full breakfast service delivered to my seat, it wasn't too bad.

We got to Waterloo at about 9.15am and, after some discussion, and because the weather was nice, we decided to walk to the Royal Academy rather than take the bus or tube. I nearly faltered when The Husband decreed this would take approximately 40 minutes, but I figured I don't get enough exercise as it is and I actually quite like walking round London, so off we set.

Hungerford Bridge has a relatively new pedestrian bridge that runs alongside the railway line over the River Thames to Charing Cross. It has also thoughtfully provided a Pigeon Prison (although there's a huge design fault - can you spot it?)

and also a secret location where skateboards go to die.

There was an interesting bit of graffiti of a large paper drawing (now semi-peeled off) of the head of Someone Important that had been stuck to the wall but I'm afraid I didn't recognise who it was - is it meant to be Martin Luther King?

He looks a bit old to me to be Stephen Lawrence, and it does look a bit like Eddie Murphy, but I liked the fact that what I think are meant to be his shoulders look more to me like a pair of black wings so it looked like a bizarre giant flying head. Perhaps someone had thoughtfully pasted it there as some kind of inspiration to the pigeon prisoners.... anyway, I just liked it.

The Summer Exhibition opens its doors at 10am and we got to the Royal Academy in Piccadilly at about 9.50am to be greeted by a great long queue snaking past the large steel sculpture in the courtyard. Rather than standing in line doing nothing, we decided to go for a bit of a wander and come back when the queue had gone. Right next door to the RA is Burlington Arcade which is full of fancy little shops selling incredibly expensive antique diamond tiaras (must replace mine, it's getting a little tarnished now) and cashmere to the Japanese. However, right at the entrance onto Piccadilly there's a Laduree (expensive French cake shop) that has an interior like a gilded cave and a window display of pastel coloured macaroons at about a million quid for six. Very pretty, though:

We ambled along the Arcade while I got distracted by the shiny things and eventually got into the Royal Academy itself at about 10.10am. Needless to say, it was already heaving in there, so we decided to brave the horror that are the two Weston Rooms and get them out of the way. It was like a posh mosh pit in there - the pictures cover the walls from knee height to 20-foot high ceiling but you can't get far enough back from them to see them properly because everyone's crammed in there. It deeply spoils the occasion for me. Plus it gets as hot as a gig in the small Weston Room. It's grim.

As usual, there was some stuff we liked and quite a lot we didn't really. There was a print of a monkey in a spacesuit which caught my eye as I thought it was quite cute. Then I spotted the row of red dots (indicating sales) on the frame so looked it up in the catalogue - turned out to be by Tracey Emin and was pretty affordable. I couldn't decide if I liked it enough to buy it as a piece of artwork or as an investment because it was by Tracey Emin. I still don't know. It was a series of 300 which I expect have all gone by now. I may phone them up next week to see if there are any left. If there aren't, then I may get a Norman Ackroyd. I didn't take any photos in the Royal Academy as I suspect you aren't allowed to, but I did buy a few postcards of some of the paintings which caught my eye. I expect I'm breaking all kinds of copyright rules and regulations here but, here goes:

This is From Malinhead - Tory Island, an etching by my fave, Norman Ackroyd. This is a very good example of his style. Big, monochrome, sweeping, atmospheric landscapes and seascapes - I'm very taken with them and need at least one on my walls soon.

This is Nubia by Basia Lautman. A large etching of, I think, a Basenji dog. Nice clean lines that catches the dog's personality.

This is an archival photographic print called Angus by Maciej Urbanek. I'm something of a sucker for pictures of animals and I just loved the expression on this albino kangaroo/wallaby's face as it stares straight out at you.

Finally, this is Second Sight by Michael De Bono. A traditional oil painting, this very large picture shows a fortune-teller surrounded by her tools of the trade - her bell, book and candle, crystal ball and bag of runes. The Husband was quite taken with this picture too and I like to think it's because of the skilled painting technique the artist used and not with the subject's impressive cleavage.

Sleb-spot - Lord Bath was there again, escorting the same Nordic stick-insect wifelet as last year, but he was the only famous we saw. I wonder why he comes on Buyer's Day rather than on one of the press days the week before? Perhaps he doesn't enjoy mixing with the Z-list non-entities that show up to those things and prefers the less pretentious commoners...

We left the Exhibition at around 11.30 and decided to head off to Bodean's BBQ shack in Soho for lunch.

I found this place a few years back when I was craving ribs, and it's now become tradition for us to go there after the Summer Exhibition. Their pulled pork butt sandwich with fries, pickles and coleslaw is absolutely to die for.

It seemed a shame to head straight on home after paying such a vast sum to get to London in the first place, so, after eating, I suggested to The Husband that we should go to the British Museum as they were currently running a small exhibition of Elsa Peretti designs for Tiffany, the jewellers, which I quite fancied seeing. Plus I own a couple of her pieces and wanted to know if they were in there.

The British Museum will be in Part Two as I want to stop writing now and have a rest - we walked over 4.5 miles yesterday and I'm aching somewhat today...


mountainear said...

Our last visit to the RA was to see the Byzantium exhibition. They seemed to have crammed as many rude, sharp elbowed old gits into a small dark and seemingly overheated space as possible. Those old gits without elbows had sticks or capacious bags. All had the knack of standing right in front of me - even when I Was There First. Pah! quite spoiled a potentially interesting visit.

Sorry to moan.

Cait O'Connor said...

Fabulous blog Mrs Jones (my daughter's name!)
My husband is a Godalming man and I have lived and worked there but it was many moons ago.
Love the etching, love the fortune teller pic (I crave it actually).
It is a Basenji dog... I had an uncle who kept them once even more moons ago.
Huisband can't believe the fare from Farncombe to London!
Thank you for the Summer Exhibition trip, much enjoyed.

Faith said...

Interesting blog Mrs. J, don't think I've read yours before. We don't live that far from each other, and I totally agree about horrendous fares to London. I'd go more often if they were cheaper. Hated pigeon prison (as I am a pigeon lover and have a dove blog!) and loved Nubia. Best wishes.

Mrs Jones said...

Mountainear - I may forgo the Buyer's Day invitation next year and just go later on when it's not so busy - far more pleasant!

Cait - The train fare was so expensive because it was early in the morning as I wanted to be there for 10am. If we'd caught a train at 10.30 it would have been £18.30 which is still extortionate but more reasonable. The fortune teller picture is lovely but it's huge and also £47,000. I bought the postcard instead for 50p!

Faith - The prison isn't really for the pigeons, it's to stop people jumping from the bridge or the railway lines onto the brick platformy bits (don't know what the correct name is), and the pigeons just congregate there, strutting about and cooing in the sunshine!

Red Shoes said...

God, I love pulled pork with good bbq sauce, fries and coleslaw. I'm literally drooling at the photo.