Adventures in London Town

We had a brilliant time in London this weekend. I really wanted to catch the Matisse exhibition at the Tate Modern before it ends this week. BUT like a fool I didn’t even think about pre-booking tickets, I just thought we could breeze straight in, but no. We arrived at 3pm only to be told that the next available slot was 7pm!

Luckily our visit to London was 3 fold. We were also going to Covent Garden to surprise my Mum for her birthday and then stopping over with my husbands parents. So we booked the exhibition for 6pm on Sunday and took a leisurely stroll through Southbank over to Covent Garden.

On our journey we saw the Dazzle Ship.

The Dazzle Ship

Dazzle Ship

This is the HMS President (1918) which served during the First World War. The ‘dazzle’ camouflage on this ship was done by Tobias Rehberger and the original purpose of such a design was to confuse enemy U-boat captains.

In Covent Garden we successfully surprised my Mum who was there on a day out with her friend and enjoyed a cheeky glass of Pimms 🙂

On our way back we passed the London Film Museum where my husband stopped dead in his tracks. They are currently exhibiting a large collection of James Bond vehicles. Now marriage is about give and take right? He was willing to come to Matisse with me so surely it was only fair that I returned the cultural favour. And as it turns out it actually it was quite interesting!

Here are a few of the cars that caught my eye. Not because I could admit to recognising them from the film (I know, shame on me) but because they were lovely. Here are the Rolls Royce Phantom III and the Aston Martin DBS from Goldfinger.

Rolls Royce Phanton III Goldfinger

Aston Martin DBS Goldfinger

What I also found fascinating was seeing the storyboards that are created for films. I am not a film buff and I have never really thought about how much work goes into making a film before, but seeing each camerashot sketched out like this really opened my eyes. The scene below was from Skyfall.

Skyfall Storyboard

We eventually arrived at the in-laws late Saturday eveining. It was lovely to see them. After Sunday lunch Mr. A disappeared for a while only to come back downstairs with a couple of ‘finds’. Of the old vintage camera variety.

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We searched online to see if we could find any film for them. Unfortunately, they stopped producing film for the polaroid ‘swinger’ in 1970!! However we have found a film for ‘The Button’ and duly ordered a couple. Stand by for some polaroid fun in a future post!

After saying our goodbyes we headed back into London Town for the much anticipated Matisse Exhibition. We parked our car in the Mansion House area, and as we exited the car park we came out at Baynard House and came across an interesting sculpture of Shakespeare’s 7 Ages of Man by Richard Kindersley. Constructed in a totem pole style it depicts the aging process from the youngest at the bottom to the oldest at the top. What doesn’t really come across in this photo is that the top head, the old man, actually looks quite skull-like from certain angles.

The 7 Ages of Man

From here we walked over the Millennium Bridge. You can’t beat London when the sun is shining.


We made it to the Tate Modern bang on 6pm and the exhibition didn’t disappoint.

Matisse Cut Outs

You couldn’t take photo’s in the exhibition but here are 3 of my favourites.

‘Icarus’ – I have always loved this image and I used to have a large print of this hanging in my old flat and what struck me when I saw it was that it was a lot smaller than I had expected. But the impact of seeing the original was still immense.

matisse icarus

Photo from

I was fascinated by some of the ‘wall’ pieces. Matisse cut out these shapes and pinned them to the walls of his apartments in Paris and Venice. Called ‘Oceania, the Sky’ it began by Matisse cutting out a swallow shape from a piece of writing paper, and not wanting to tear it up or disregard it he pinned it to his wall to cover up a stain. Over the following weeks more shapes followed, including fish, coral, birds and leaves. According to the guidebook for the exhibition he was inspired by a visit to Tahiti 16 years earlier and quotes ‘There, swimming every day in the lagoon, I took such intense pleasure in contemplating the submarine world’

Oceania, the Sea 1946 matisse

Picture taken from

I don’t know if it is the colours or the shapes of this piece, but it also makes me think of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Finally, The Creole Dancer. I just love this. The colours, the movement – it just makes me smile. And at the giftshop it was my fridge magnet of choice 🙂

Matisse Creole Dancer 1950

The pieces were complemented by film footage showing how Matisse worked on these cut outs in his later years, instructing his assistants on where to place the shapes. I am so glad we caught this exhibition before it closed.

On our way home we drove through Trafalgar Square. Here are the final few pictures of a great weekend.

The London Eye

The London Eye.

Nelsons Column

Nelsons Column.

I do love London!


Quilts and Colour Exhibition

During our recent trip to Boston I visited the Quilts and Color exhibition currently showing at the Museum of Fine Arts. This exhibition was especially useful for me as it ties in very nicely with my current knitting course module which looks at the use of colour.

The exhibition showcases around 60 quilts from the collectors and artists Paul Pilgrim and Gerald Roy and looks at both the craft of quilting and colour theories used in the design of the pieces.

The collection ranges from early 19th century to the 1940’s, a time when women’s environments were very labour intensive. The collector Gerald Roy quotes: “That first sentence that I use in my collector’s preface—I make my quilts as fast as I can so my children won’t freeze, and as beautiful as I can so my heart won’t break —I think that is the epitome of what quilt making provided for women throughout the history of the nineteenth century. Their worlds were very much labor intensive, and to be able to escape and to produce something by way of producing it for utility, for the family, for warmth, but also having that other very, very special part was extremely important.”

The first quilt we saw was the Carpenters Wheel Quilt by Mrs. Miller made around 1890.

Carpenters Wheel Quilt

I found this combination of colours really interesting – the photo doesn’t really do it justice though as the orange was much brighter, but the complementary colors of dark red and green seemed to reign it in. What you also don’t get from the photo is the detail in the stitching, if you look really closely in the orange squares you can just about see the flower pattern.

This next piece is ‘The Star of Bethlehem’, there aren’t any details to say who it was made by other than it was made in new England in the 1920’s.

Quilt Star of Bethlehem

Here is a close up of the centre, the amount of work that must have gone in to produce something like this is incredible:

Star of Bethlehem Quilt

We spent ages in front of this next quilt ‘A Thousand Pyramids’ (1930), trying to work out of there was any pattern  or logic to the placement of the triangles or whether they had been placed randomly.

Thousand Pyramids quilt

We never reached a conclusion on that one!

Pamela Parmal the exhibition curator states:  Traditionally, most quilt makers used a high contrast, usually white with a dark color, to create their patterns, which could easily be seen. A lot of the quilts in this exhibition do just the opposite; they’ll use similar colors together, or will have no white whatsoever. In fact the majority of the quilts in the show do not have white in them.”

‘Touching Sunbursts’, made in Pennsylvania in 1854 was one of the few quilts on display that used white.

Touching Sunbursts quilt

Again, this was one when viewed close up you could see intricate stitching patterns in the white squares, details which get lost when viewed from afar. This is what made the pieces so interesting as on first glance you are drawn in by the colorful and bold overall pattern,  but when you get closer you can see the patterns on each individual piece of fabric as well as the stitches that piece it all together.

I didn’t make a note of the origins of this one unfortunately but I was totally captivated by it. It’s almost as if the dark pattern has been printed on top of the finished quilt.


Here is a close up – just look at the number of different individual fabrics that were used to make it!


Another of my favourites was this one – it reminded me of spinning records.


Quilt 2

If you look in the red squares you can see the stitching patterns a bit clearer in this one.

Speaking of the collection Gerald Roy quotes “…can you imagine what these women, if they were alive today, would think about their work appearing on the walls of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston? I mean that would be mind-blowing to those ladies. And what a compliment.”

If only the family of Mrs. Ephraim Scott has known her ‘Sunburst Quilt’ (1856) would one day be on display – it was dubbed by them as the ‘ugly quilt’!

Sunburst quilt

This is one of the best exhibitions I have been to for a long time. Each quilt is so intricate and beautifully made it’s impossible not to stop and appreciate the detail in each one. The amount of thought, work and love that went into each one is truly inspirational.

The Diamond Field Quilt

The Diamond Field (1860) – picture taken from

Art, Travel

Day 2 in the Big Apple

Today we started our journey at Discovery in Times Square at the Body Worlds exhibition. It is an exhibition of the work undertaken by Gunther von Hagen, the inventor of plastination which is used to preserve the human body. The subjects are all donors who agreed for their bodies to be preserved and displayed for scientific research. The exhibition focused on health and wellbeing and how the stresses and challenges of everyday life can affect the body. My husband was a lot keener to see the exhibition than I was, but I’m glad I saw it. It’s a real eye opener and definitely makes you look at and appreciate your body in a whole new light!

Next stop was the Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA. The museum houses masterpieces of modern and contemporary art by artists such as Van Gogh, Cezanne, Miro, Picasso, Andy Warhol, Monet, Matisse, Ernst…. The list goes on!

Here is one of my all time favourites, The Starry Night by Van Gogh.


And Andy Warhols cow wallpaper, I love this!


The MoMA is a truly inspirational place – there is also a sculpture garden where you can grab a coffee and sit and take it all in.

From here we took a wander down Fifth Avenue to visit some iconic shops such as Tiffany’s, FAO Schwarz (the toy shop in the film Big, and you can have a go on the piano too!) and the Apple store.

After dinner we headed over to the Rockefeller ‘Top of the Rock’ viewing observatory to see phenomenal views of the city in lights.


Art, Travel

Bonjour Paris!

Not so long ago my husband and I spent a magical weekend in Paris. We caught the Eurostar early on Friday morning and by midday we were checking into our hotel.

We stayed at the Opera de Noailles, situated near the Opera House. We chose this hotel mainly due to the great reviews on Trip Advisor and we weren’t disappointed. Not only is the central location perfect (10 min walk to the Louvre) but the hotel is full of interesting pieces of modern art such as:

The turtles behind the reception desk

Opera de Noailles Paris

The snails in the main lobby

Opera de Noailles Snail

And the group of bears in the courtyard which became more and more sinister as daylight faded!

Opera de Noailles Bears


Our room was small but very clean, it was ideal for us as we spent most of the weekend out and about.

One of the places we visited was the Les Catacombs, which I have to say I was a bit apprehensive about at first. The catacombs are a series of disused quarries that run deep under the centre of Paris. In the late 18th Century, due to overcrowding and disease it was decided to transfer the bones of those buried in the city centre graveyards down to the mines; the tunnels hold the remains of as many as 6 million Parisians.

The way the bones have  been displayed and arranged makes for a pretty strange experience. I have to say I am glad that we did visit as it was unlike anything I have ever seen before, but I’m not sure I would rush back to do it again.

Paris Catacombs


In the evening we took a wander down to the Notre Dame and the Seine.

Notre Dame

The Seine Paris


It was late when we got back to the hotel and unfortunately the bar was shut so we couldn’t have a drink with the bears! On the Saturday we headed over to the Louvre to check out this little lady.

Mona Lisa

The Louvre is such an amazing, inspirational place. Everywhere you turn there are opulent halls lined with exquisite pieces of art. It really is something else. It also made us want to watch the Da Vinci Code again!

The Louvre


The only thing that I really wanted to see that we didn’t get chance to was a Surrealist exhibition at the Pompidou Centre – we just ran out of time. However, some of the artwork back in the hotel could have given the surrealists a run for their money!

Opera de Noailles art

I also really liked this chair – the jacket on the back was made up of strips of paper but you couldn’t tell until you got up really close.

Opera de Noailles

And check this out – the hotel has a really unique way of displaying it’s thank you notes!

Opera de Noailles Thank you

It really was a great weekend and I hope we can go back again soon – 2 days really isn’t long enough to explore this beautiful city.




What’s the Point of It?….

… the question posed by the artist Martin Creed at his latest exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London.

Before I go any further I must point that I am by no means an art critic, I know the basics having studied art in college but that was a while ago. This review is purely an account of my own personal experience and reactions to the pieces on show.

My friend and I had set aside the day to go and see ‘The Light Princess’ at the National Theatre. Being a Saturday we were booked in for the matinee performance and had some time to spare beforehand. This exhibition was on nearby and I was so intrigued. I vaguely remember Creed’s work back from 2001 when he  won the Turner Prize for his work No 227 ‘The lights Going On and Off’ and I remember having a giggle to myself and thinking ‘really?!’.

Really. And this exhibition turned out to be the best one I have been to for years. Never have I been to an exhibition where I have properly laughed out loud, been shocked, bemused, impressed, confused and entertained so much in one go.

Let’s start from the beginning. You walk through the doors and are immediately confronted with a giant, illuminated ‘Mother’s’ sign that spins over the whole room at a height of 6 foot 6 inches, meant to symobilse the powerful and sometimes overbearing nature of motherhood. Even though I am 5 foot 4 this constant swooping overhead was a little too close for comfort. We quickly exited this room into room 2, and where the fun began.


Image taken from –

Room 2 housed some of Creed’s drawings and sculptures. Ranging from doodles to stacks of boxes and chairs (all arranged in size order of course)



Image taken from

There were a number of single colour pictures here, many made using marker pens. They reminded us of the problem that you always encounter when using felt tips and trying to colour in a large space. There is always an overlap which creates lines and patches of darker colour. A particular favorite was a series of ‘colouring’s’ in room 4 where it would seem that Creed raided a stationary cupboard of its highlighters and tested each one out on a piece of A4 paper, covering the entire surface with lines. Bold, yet brilliant.

Back in room 2 a man was sat at a piano, pressing each key in turn, running up and down the scale.

We ascended the stairs only to be confronted by a wall of broccoli prints. Over 1000 each in a different colour.

Work No 1000 Martin Creed

Work No 1000: 1,000 prints made with broccoli. Photograph: Graeme Robertson

According to the Martin Creed A-Z that we were handed as we walked in ‘Creed made his first broccoli print as the cover for a vinyl record. Realising that his favorite vegetable is the size of a seven inch single, he decided to cut in half and make an image’. Although not just one…. it became 1,000 – he made one with each different paint that he could find.

The upper galleries also contained some external work on the terraces.

Terrace A) Work 1029. As I passed through the gallery doors onto the outside terrace I was not expecting to be faced with a large-scale projection of a penis slowly erecting and then collapsing. My friend and I, mostly out of shock, had a good giggle but then it became a bit awkward as we were joined by strangers on the terrace – we didn’t know where to look at that point!

Terrace B) Work 1812. A large brick wall made with an array of colored bricks arranged in stripes. Probably better appreciated back in the gallery when viewed through work 990: A curtain opening and closing. The outside world becomes slowly revealed but the view is obscured by a great big brick wall.

Terrace C) Work no: 1686. A Ford Focus car parked with doors shut and engine off. Every few minutes the car comes to life: the doors open ,the engine turns on, the windscreen wipers sweep,the  headlights flash, the radio blares. Then it all stops! And repeat.

We were joined on the terrace by a very jolly man who found the whole set up extremely amusing. He had just come from the Paul Klee exhibition at the Tate and (in his words) found it a little bit pretentious compared to this.

Perhaps my favorite piece was work 22: Half the Air in a given space.



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Here was a room where half the air is contained in balloons – the visitor was invited to enter and experience the playful yet claustrophobic space. Personally, I didn’t feel the claustrophobia, however I did come out with very big hair due to the static!

As we came out of the balloon room we went back into gallery 5 where there is a piano installation that is set up to go off every 15 minutes. With a few minutes to spare until the piano was activated we got chatting to the security guard. he couldn’t help but draw our attention to Creed’s work no. 79: Some blu-tack kneaded, rolled into a ball, and depressed against a wall (1993). ‘Have you seen that?’ he said, ‘yes’ we replied, ‘isn’t it brilliant!’. He laughed and then activated the piano (work no: 569) to slowly open the piano lids and then slam them shut again. The lady stood next to us was worried about the damage such slamming would inflict on the piano and quickly hurried away. We watched it slam down a couple more times and then headed down the stairs to watch  ‘sick and shit’.


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So from pieces of paper torn up, crumpled, rolled into a ball, folded and flattened out, to an array of items ranging from cacti to industrial nails arranged in order of size, things piled on top of each other and the exploration of bodily functions, this exhibition really does leave you with the question – what exactly is art?

The fact that my friend and I set out to to see a musical, but spent the best part of the way home talking about this exhibition, speaks volumes.

Whether you class it as art or not, in my eyes Martin Creed is an absolute genius.