Monday, April 15, 2013


Robin’s morning class on Tuesday meets at the LMA (London Metropolitan Archives). The LMA is the record office for Greater London (excluding the City) and for the counties and governmental authorities that preceded the present arrangements. It also houses the archives of many businesses, churches, charities, organizations, families and individuals from the London area from the 12th century onwards, and numerous maps, plans, drawings, and photographs. 

But you knew that. I’m going with her to check out that part of town while she’s in class.

Her afternoon class convenes at the Bishopsgate Institute where substantial material on the social and topographical history of London and unrivaled collections on the early labour movement, free thought and secularism, and the co-operative movement are archived.

I did not know that, but I’m still going with her to check out that part of town while she’s in class.

After Robin’s class we’ll work our way over to the Noel Coward Theatre (a West End theatre) in Leicester Square to see Peter and Alice, starring Judi Dench and Ben Wishaw (he was Ariel in the movie version of The Tempest, starring Helen Mirren; he was brilliant in Perfume; and, of course, the zenith of his career has to be the role of Q in the James Bond film Skyfall)

Several years ago we saw him play Hamlet at the Old Vic, the youngest actor ever to play Hamlet on that legendary stage. Which basically means the part is usually played by actors who are waaay too old for the part. So there.

Meanwhile, catching up on photos:

Robin prepares for class. Looks like a pretty big room until you realize the photo shows the entire width of the room. But it’s a tall room.

Robin and other Rosetta Stone admirers.

Great stuff in the British Museum.

This clock from about 1585 (the dial is at the base of the middle mast) was intended to announce banquets at court. The entertainment began with music from a miniature organ inside the hull. The ship would travel across the table. When it stopped, the front cannon (not visible) would fire, lighting a fuse that fired all the other guns. Too bad if you’re sitting in the line of fire. It’s still great fun for the rest of us.

A colossal scarab beetle from Egypt. 

Accurate time keeping devices are critical to determining longitude in seafaring navigation. Or they used to be until the 1980s when GPS technology replaced clocks. This clock was state-of-the-art in... wait for it... 1960. The Hamilton Company built 13,000 of them. I'll bet they were expensive. And they probably couldn’t make phone calls, play music or movies.

The hole in the chest may have been made by Napolean’s soldiers as they tried to bring down the colossal sculpture. 

Another view of the Lely Venus, from the 1500s.

The greatness of these unknown sculptors boggles my mind. 

Zounds! It’s as if they had a 3D printer.

The plaque says that the artist “sketched in the right foot on the other side of the horse.” This guy, whoever he was, draws better in marble than I do with charcoal and paper. Dang.

So many nude people at the British Museum today. Wait, that’s a statue!
They’re so realistic I can’t tell the real nude people from the marble ones anymore.

I know this is marble because she doesn't have a head. But I think she probably had to be real at some point.
I mean, come on! 

The Lely Venus

This statue is called the Lely Venus because a famous artist and connoisseur, Peter Lely, came into possession of it in 1627-28 when the King Charles I art collection was dispersed during the Commonwealth (which included the English Civil War and the execution of King Charles I).

Two years after Lely died it was re-acquired for the Royal Collection and stored in the Palace of Whitehall. In 1698 it was rescued from a fire that destroyed Whitehall Palace, and has been on long-term loan to the British Museum since 2005.

I’ve never drawn in a museum before, but I figured time’s running out and I'm standing there with a sketchpad and a British Museum stool, looking like a dunce.

Time to draw or go home (I think that’s Shakespeare... but I’m not sure).

Drawing in a museum is different from drawing in the weekly Santa Fe drawing group.
Different in a good way: the model never moves.
Different in a bad way: hordes of people constantly walk between you and the model, stopping to chat.

Still fun though.

The Lely Venus
Felt tip pen on paper.
The Romans called her Venus, the Greeks called her Aphrodite.

The Lely Venus, sketch detail.

A Day In Pompeii

To backtrack a bit, the Pompeii exhibit yesterday (at the British Museum) was pretty amazing. I just got a few photos before I realized that photography was not allowed.

Also amazing is the fact that I left my backpack at a cafe table and realized it was gone after strolling through the exhibit for 30 minutes. I gasped, hurried out to the Grand Hall where I had been sitting and looked around for the bag. A couple of brits who looked and sounded like Hollywood casting for a couple of Cockney characters in an Oliver Twist movie were sitting on the floor and said “Lookin’ fah a bag?” “Security took it. You can get it at the Information desk.” It was there.

New Rule: the bag is never disconnected from the body.

The British Museum Grand Hall. The Pompeii exhibit is in the circular structure. The surrounding wings contain the permanent exhibits from Egypt, Syria, Greece, and who knows what else.

Robin reads about a fresco. 
You’ve probably seen photos of this dog before. It was easy to imagine the horror of that day.

A guard dog mosaic. 

Leaving the British Museum at closing time.

Off To School

Today (Monday) is the first day of school for Robin. I walked her to the Senate House and said “Have fun, make friends, don’t get your new school clothes dirty on the playground.” The usual first-day-of-school stuff.

I spent most of the day in the British Museum, and that’s where I’m blogging from, so I’ll know in a couple of hours how class went. 

Robin gets directions to her class.

After escorting Robin to school I did a photo stroll on the way to a local art supply store before landing at the British Museum for the rest of the day. It’s free, it’s fascinating, it’s educational, and their WiFi connection is better than anywhere else I’ve found so far.

Do I dare? It’s hard enough trying to keep from being run over while walking. 
The BT Tower. I suspected it was an alien ship of some sort...

After seeing it up close, I’m pretty sure it’s some sort of device being used by the Lizard Race. Or maybe an old movie set used for the movie Brazil

I passed by The Building Centre and noticed this fabulous model of London in the lobby. 
Starbucks was giving away free samples of Strawberry Frappes.
Pretty yummy.

This is good to know. I hate improper hamburgers. 

I'm hoping we can get tickets to The Book of Mormon.

This is the place. Everything I need is in here. I bought a newsprint pad, a good quality white paper spiral sketch book, some Conté sticks, a tin to put charcoal and pencils in, and headed to the British Museum.