Friday, May 13, 2011
As mentioned in my previous post, I had plans to go back to Kensington so I can enjoy the museums there more thoroughly. Dale also went with me to Kensington, but we planned on separate itineraries as his interest in the V&A is as keen as his interest in, say, competitive beard growing.
The first museum on my agenda for that day was the National History Museum. I planned a systematic look on the exhibits I didn’t get to see when I first visited, which were the following:
- Creepy Crawlies Exhibit
- The fossils display
- Bird Exhibit (Small birds! Large birds! Birds that are normal-sized! And eggs!)
- Lasting Impressions Exhibit
- Earth Today and Tomorrow
- Earth: The Power Within (which includes an earthquake simulator– kinda lame– and a Mt. Pinatubo display)
- Human Biology Exhibit
Some of these exhibits are interactive, and since I’m a visual-haptic learner, that’s kinda perfect for me. Never mind that they are geared for schoolchildren, whatever whatever I do what I want. Haha.
My second stop was the V&A Museum (insert choir of angels singing). I started where I left off last time, at the King Henry VIII Exhibit, which led to the Court of Elizabeth I. Elizabeth I was not only a political and social leader, but also a front-runner in fashion, culture, and the arts so this exhibit was not lacking in artifacts.
Hereabouts, I tried on a knight’s hand armour, a neck ruff, wove a simple pattern, and also made a chair in the style of the era. Well, sort of made a chair. It’s not a one-person activity, and I flailed around with the wood most of the time in manner of preschooler playing with legos, only less cute. It didn’t help that a douchebag thought I was great entertainment and laughed at me the whole time. He even took a photo.
Good thing he didn’t follow me around because he would have seen and took photos of me failing to wear a hoop and petticoat properly nor tie a cravat correctly. No wonder those Elizabethan bitches have their own lady’s maids/valets. When I say bitches here, I pertain to both males and females, and I say it with the utmost affection. 😛
I discovered here at the V&A that I really love miniatures. You know, those tiny portraits with such lovely detail and you have to wonder if they were painted by little elves. No, no one really wonders that. *shifty eyes*
Oh, oh, I stood right next/in front of a Bernini! It was the piece “Neptune and Triton”. My favorite sculptures in the sculpture hall (not actual name; but that’s what I call it) were these two large pieces by someone named Alfred Stevens that are full-sized models to bronze ones at the St. Paul Cathedral:
Since we were going back to Manila the day after this, I spent some of what little pounds I had left on a gourmet sandwich (not sure if it’s gourmet, but anything with “sundried” and I automatically assume gourmet) and the cheapest drink I could find. This I ate at my favorite spot at the V&A, the John Madejski Garden, right in front of the fountain. While I was eating, I thought, hey look, I’m alone but I’m… happy. This is cheesy, but this moment was the last time that I was happy being alone. It was also the moment that I resolved that my children will grow around with access to all of this. And I will make sure they appreciate it.
After eating, I made my way to the Science Museum. I only had a little less than an hour before it closes so I didn’t see all the exhibits. It was like an amazing race to see as much as I can. To be honest, I wish I skipped the one on agriculture. 😐 But Exploring Space was majorly wicked.
I spent an inordinate amount of time in the History of Medicine part though. I don’t know, it was just very fascinating to me. Kinda creepy to, because that was where I was at closing and they turned off the lights just when I was looking at a particularly grotesque surgery depiction.
Anyway, with the museum closing in around me, I had no choice but to leave. But the good news is that I learned that V&A had extended opening hours that day so I went back. Haha, I know, what haven’t I seen at this point? Well, there’s still the Asian and Middle East exhibits and I also went back to the Cast Courts and some of my favorite exhibits. Then I chilled some more at the garden. There was an adorable kid playing in the fountain and I secretly named him “Cescky”. He was so cheeky, smiling at me whenever he passed. That 2 or 3 year-old was such a flirt! Haha!
In an effort to not look so much like a tourist, I bought myself a glass of vino– fine, it was a mojito!– and tried not to look like the cat that ate the canary while waiting for Jerome in the lobby. Drinks at the V&A, how very… well, not me. Not yet.
Jerome (coming from Wimbledon– he won. Just kidding.) finally caught up with me after going through some of the exhibits himself. After the V&A, we decided to check if the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square also had extended opening hours. It did! But even so, we only have about an hour or two before it closes.
Cameras were not allowed inside, so I have no pictures. That okay though, just seeing all the works from artists that I’ve learned about in my required humanities classes was an unforgettable experience. There were Van Goghs (“Sunflowers” was there!), Bellinis, Carravaggios, Rubens, a Rembrandt, Monets, Renoirs, and even works from the ninja turtles. Except for Donatello, because he’s more of a sculptor than painter. But even with all these greats, the most unforgettable was when I saw “Venus and Mars” by my favorite painter, Sandro Botticelli.
Standing in front of the Botticelli was emotional, to say the least. And it’s not just any Botticelli, but “Venus and Mars”! If I had to choose a Botticelli that I wanted to see… well, it would have to be “Birth of Venus” but “Venus and Mars” is a close second (a lot of people would prefer “Primavera”, I know). Forgive me if I sound pretentious, but it’s really something, the effect some works of art can have on you. I think I just stood in front of it for a long time. I really like the look on Mars’ face, the expression is so tranquil and unguarded even though he’s the god of war. I read that the meaning behind it is that love (as depicted by Venus) conquers war (Mars), thus, love conquers all. I kept coming back to the painting after exploring other work on the floor, which is why I didn’t make it in time to the gift shop. That was unfortunate too, I really wanted to buy something.
I wish I was more artistic; I was a little jealous of all the people sketching the paintings. Wouldn’t it be cool to just hang around the galleries, sketching? Of course, I can always pretend to sketch, but at the risk of someone looking over and seeing random squiggly lines.
That night was our last night in London. As much as we wanted to spend the night out, drinking in everything in town (and possibly drinking– mmm, Cinnamon Whiskey!), we just had a nice dinner with Ajay and Angel because we had to pack. Well, we were already sort of packed because we had to move from the hotel to the Arora household but there were still things we had to do.
I’ve experienced and learned more from this UK trip than I can put into words. But for now– that is, until I can return again– words will have to do.