Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sidewalk artist

Near the Millennium Bridge.

Ship in a bottle

Trafalgar Square, outside the National Gallery.

Sunday, Part One

This morning we met Robin's cousin, Danny, and his family for breakfast at a nearby Hilton. They've been staying in the English countryside and are taking the chunnel to Europe for more sightseeing.

This afternoon we went to the National Portrait Gallery to see lots of great portraits, including The Tudors and a contemporary collection.

Next we made our way across town to the St. Paul tube station where we crossed the Thames on the Millennium pedestrian bridge to the Globe Theater neighborhood. After a fast, delicious dinner at Tas Pide, a Turkish restaurant across the street from the globe, we went to see Macbeth at the Globe. A very good production, viiolent, bloody, and lots of screaming. Lots of the Groundlings (the standing room audience around the stage) had to stick their heads thru holes in a fabric surrounding the stage. Actors and musicians occasionally appeared thru a hole in the cloth.

Getting ready for a big day tomorrow: a trip to Greenwich and an after hours drawing session at the Tate Modern tomorrow night.


Saturday evening we all had a rendezvous at the New London Theater on Drury Lane, where, according to Robin, the muffin man lives.

The play was great, as in " Wow, that was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen." It's a story about a farm kid and his horse, and World War I.

This from the author in the program notes: "So I conceived the notion that I might write the story of the First World War as seen through a horse's eyes, a horse that would be reared on a Devon farm, by the forebears of the people I knew, a horse that is sold off the farm to go to the front as a British cavalry horse, is captured by the Germans and used to pull ambulances and guns, winters on a French farm. It would be the horse's eye view of the universal suffering of that dreadful war in which ten million people died, and unknown millions of horses."

The horse (and other animals) is a life sized puppet controlled by several puppeteers. The photos from the program show how stylized the horse puppets are, but the effect is amazingly real even though there's no attempt made to hide the puppeteers (two under the horse, one standing next to the head, and sometimes another one or two at the back of the horse). In the bottom photo, the man standing behind the horse's neck is not an actor - he's a puppeteer manipulating the head and neck movements.

An unforgettable night of theater.

After Saatchi

When we left the Saatchi Gallery Robin, Scarlett, and Ela jumped in a taxi to hurry to their Afternoon Tea reservation at the Brown Hotel, well known among Afternoon Tea aficionados.

JohnD, Jay, and I started walking east towards Buckingham Palace, on to the theater district where we had arranged to meet the ladies later to see War Horse.

On the way we stopped at a couple of pubs to sample the beer. In the bottom photo Jay and JohnD enjoy relaxing in the middle of the street with a beer. Just try to remember to return your glass to the pub across the street.

Top photo: outside another pub, a beer barrel doubles as a table and ash tray. Standing around outside the pub and sipping beer while socializing seems to be the thing to do. Kinda like Facebook, but more like Face-pub.

Saatchi wrap-up

Another interesting room in the Saatchi Gallery is filled with speakers of all sorts, creating a tower of speakers in the back corner of the room. Hidden behind the some of the speakers, where people are standing, is a player piano. The large tube on the floor slithers as some sort of energy is fed to the piano, making weird, unpleasant electronic sounds. In my opinion This piece just barely misses the mark. If all those speakers had been blaring any kind of real music (Queen, Devo, TransSiberian Orchestra, Beethoven) I would have bought it.

Saatchi's room of oil

One of my favorite pieces at the Saatchi is a large room half filled with oil.

Like I said, art or tragic accident? It's hard to tell, but since this piece was also at the gallery's previous location, I'm guessing "art."

Saatchi Saturday

(Note: In case you haven't noticed before, click on an image to show a larger version.)

Our former Turkish exchange student from Istanbul and his wife, Ela, also from Istanbul, drove four hours to London from Manchester to spend the day with us.
We Tubed and walked to the Saatchi Gallery, stopping for lunch at an Italian in the Kensington area of London.

You never know how brilliant or weird the current Saatchi exhibit will be. Sometimes you just don't know if you're looking at art or a tragic accident. In the case of the art piece at the top of the page, I think it's art, and I like it. If it's not art, someone call 911.