Thursday, October 14, 2010

More art, foundlings and a medicine man

Today's ramble lacked a coherent theme or geography, other than being more or less along the Number 24 bus line. I'm happy to report that, for several days now, I've returned in the evening with all of the items that were in my possession when I walked out the door. Whew!

The day started and ended in the noise and traffic of the Euston Road. I took the tube to King's X/St Pancras and walked down to the
Gagosian Gallery, which I'd never been to before. As I approached it, I saw one black cab after another as people arrived or left the gallery. Inside, there were hordes of people -- trendy, arty types -- milling around with champagne flutes or cups of tea. The exhibition was incomprehensible -- something to do with form and light. The trendies were queuing up to put on funny booties, climb some steps and enter a box of colored light. I left in a hurry.

I then meandered down Gray's Inn Road and made my way to the
Foundling Museum, getting there just as mist was turning to rain. There, I learned about how Thomas Coram established the first institution in Britain to care for abandoned children in the mid 18th century. In addition to exhibitions about the history of the Foundling Hospital, and about Hogarth and Handel's philanthropy on behalf of the institution, there was a special exhibition called "Threads of Feeling" that had to do with bits of cloth, ribbon or trinkets that the moms had tucked in with their babies when they left them for admission to the institution. The staff always attached the bits to the child's admission form, thus building the country's largest collection of textile fragments from the 1700s and 1800s.

Fortified by another lunch of tuna and sweet corn sandwich and bevvie, eaten in Tavistock Square, I grabbed the #24 bus to Trafalgar Square and went to the National Portrait Gallery to see the 19th century photographs of
Camille Silvy. Afterwards, I checked out some of the recent portraits, including photos by Mary McCartney (Linda McCartney's daughter, and a talented photographer just like her mum).

Next stop was
St Martin-in-the-Fields, across the street from the NPG. I hadn't been in the crypt since the major renovations that were completed a year ago. They've currently got small models of the six sculptures that are on the short list for the next installation on the Fourth Plinth. There's a golden boy on a rocking horse, a bright blue chicken, an ATM/pipe organ combo that is supposed to make sounds, a cake made of bricks, a war hero guy on horseback who is all decked out in beads and bobbles, and a mountainous island that's actually Britain upside down. I was thinking about going into the crypt cafe for tea and a little snack, but it was really crowded and noisy so I beat a hasty retreat upstairs to the church, where I listened for a while to a choir rehearsal. They weren't doing a classical or religious piece or anything that I recognized, but I worked out that it was something to do with the first scene of Macbeth. It was hard to understand, but I distinctly heard "weird sisters" and "boiling, boiling" and "cauldron."

Back into the grey mist, I took a quick look at the current
Fourth Plinth sculpture (photo above) before jumping on the #24 going north, getting off at the Euston Road, and walking down to the Wellcome Collection where I got to have my tea and a lovely apple flapjack pastry. I looked at most of the "Medicine Man" exhibition of Mr Wellcome's collected stuff from around the world, mostly medical or dealing with birth and death. The Collection is currently asking people to donate an object, no bigger than their head, to expand the collection of unique and/or mundane objects. That stuff will be shown starting next week in an exhibition called "Things" that I think could be quite amusing. I'm encouraging Spooner to donate one of his kitschy objects.

Distance: 14,443 steps (5.92 miles)


  • £4.28 tuna & sweet corn sandwich, apple and bevvie
  • £5 for Silvy exhibition at NPG
  • £3.50 tea and pastry at Wellcome Collection
  • £10 to top up Oyster card

1 comment:

  1. Cool sights to see. Esp. Silvy: example on web site looked cool.

    What, no dinner?