Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Project 365 England Tue 1 Sep 09

With Carnival 2009 over for another year, we hit the streets of London as three tourists and headed for the centre of town: Trafalgar Square, of course.

We caught the bus and wandered through Westminster for a little, but Clarissa and Horace weren't very interested in the area, and I hadn't done much research into what was there after the excitement of Carnival ... and all I managed around Whitehall was this view of Big Ben.

We were too close to Big Ben and in a hurry to get to Trafalgar Square to get a really nice photo ... still I think this turned out pretty well.

Still, I didn't expect Big Ben to be so gilded and bright, and it really was beautiful.

Trafalgar Square.
In the end we spent a great day around Trafalgar Square, and I was really interested to see the changeover on the fourth plinth.

Trafalgar Square has beautiful fountains ... and I wished we'd had the time to visit the church to the right, which has an old crypt. Maybe another time.

Clarissa and Horace in front of the main fountain.

And a view of Nelson on his plinth ... the grey clouds from earlier are long gone by this time.

Between 6 July and 14 October 2009, the vacant 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square has been part of a live art project by sculptor Antony Gormley. He's opened up the plinth to anybody interested in 'squatting' on the plinth for an hour with people able to do whatever they like.

Some sit and do nothing, or take photos ... we even drove past and a woman was batting ping pong balls into the crowd around her.

But my favourite was the guy who took up a sign looking for work ... and within a few days of leaving the plinth he had a job. Apparently one of the big firms in London liked his unique attitude and signed him up.

A view of the changeover on the fourth plinth ... the person arriving is on the 'elevator' and about to walk onto the plinth.

The guy leaving the plinth.

National Gallery and National Portrait Galleries.
The National Gallery is amazing ... it was brilliant to see so many of the originals of the pictures I've seen over the years: all the way from the art of the Renaissance through to Victorian art. Some of my favourites were:
* Leonardo da Vinci's drawings
* Van Gogh's chair
* van Dyck's Equestrian Portrait of Charles I
* the Hogarth series Marriage a-la Mode
* one of the portraits of Elizabeth I, and
* my absolute favourite was Drouais' portrait of Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame.

A drunken National Gallery ... we spent had our Tesco express lunch (sandwiches) on the stairs to the left. PS Check out that sky ... it's already rained a few times and we have two umbrellas to our name.

A view from the steps of the National Gallery ... our view as we had our lunch.

But I loved the National Portrait Gallery the best, and it was only a short walk just around the corner.

Unfortunately we arrived quite late, around 3pm, and had to rush through. We were unlucky enough, from my point of view, to be there at closing time and were amongst the last to leave.

It would have been brilliant to have more time to explore because the portraits were of so many people I'd read about and I wanted to see more. And I must have missed even more than I realised ... I didn't get to see the picture of Jane Austen by her sister Cassandra.

But what I did get to see the the portrait of Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of George III, and I 'borrowed' the portrait to show it here. She must have some black blood from the West Indies or elsewhere.

She's so gorgeous and this is my absolutely favourite portrait of the day.

Quintessential Englishness.
I had a list of things I wanted to take photos of ... including a London bus, telephone booth, and post box.

I think this is the first photo ... with a very reluctant view (yet again) of Clarissa!

And one of Horace using the mobile phone Sonny gave him to use in London ... the new side to the communication coin really.

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