With a sore throat and a nasty cold. It was really chilly over there, and I was more than happy that I had my woolly hat with me for the four days. Mind you, a lot of that time was spent indoors, as there were three absolutely stunning photo exhibitions on that I *had to* see.
Upon arrival on Friday morning, I headed out to where Hariclea lives, dropping off my luggage. Hari and I had tickets for Tom Hiddleston in Betrayal later that evening, but we had enough time to call into the National Portrait Gallery for the first of my three must-see exhibitions. Only Human by Martin Parr. Parr is one of Britain’s most well-known, prolific and inventive photographers. Active since the 1970s, his work is mainly documentary in nature and focusses on life in England, particularly the working classes. His photographs tend to be very colourful and often have a funny twist – a deliberate choice by Parr who says “I make serious photographs disguised as entertainment”.
My cheap tickets to Betrayal turned out to be really good. Only 25£ because of “restricted view”, they turned out to be the front row of the Royal Circle (balcony) – and the restricted view was a thin railing in front of us. In fact, the view couldn’t have been better – we looked down upon the stage. The play itself turned out to be really good. I had expected a typically “angry” play by Pinter, but while not without conflict, Betrayal was very much focussed on the psychology of a love triangle. The fact that the play works backward from the present to a point in time 9 years earlier, made the play less pointedly confrontational – which I enjoyed as the focus remained on how the relationship between the characters develops, rather than the individual points of conflict that drive the plot. Hiddleston was – as expected – fabulous, but so were his co-stars Zawe Ashton and Charlie Cox. And also the little girl who played Hiddleston’s and Ashton’s daughter. (The scene where Robert (Hiddleston) babysits his daughter broke the fangirls’ hearts, I suspect. If not audible, there was a virtual sigh of “awwwww” when Hiddleston cradled the girl in his lap, holding her in a gentle hug and leaning his cheek on the top of her head…)
PS: And yes, Hiddleston *did* cry like he does in the clip above. It was very touching – and very real.
On Saturday I saw my hero. Or rather: my hero’s photographs in a big retrospective of his work in the Tate Britain.
Since watching the documentary “McCullin” in the cinema, I have been an admirer of Don McCullin and his work. He impressed me as an honest, honorable, humble man, who reflected back on his life as a photographer in war zones with self-criticism and integrity. He also made some of the most stunning imagery during his 65 years as a photographer – both in war and in peace. The Tate exhibition covered all of his work – from the beginnings in London, via the building of the Berlin wall, to Cyprus, Biafra, Korea, Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan… The entry to the exhibition wasn’t cheap, but that didn’t deter the crowds. In fact, the exhibition was overcrowded, which really detracted from the enjoyment of it all.
Lastly, I saw an exhibition of Diane Arbus’ work in the Hayward Gallery (Southbank Centre). Arbus’ work may look hazy and unfocused, but she was working in pre-digital times, making the most of the moment. She combines street photography and people photography in that she doesn’t conceal herself from her incidental subjects, but befriends them and establishes a connection, allowing her to show them in the moment and without self-consciousness.
Besides the photography, there was also some time for personal encounters, and it was just such a lucky coincidence that Suzy of Silverbluelining had booked tickets for Hiddleston at the same time as I had. And so Hari and I met up with Suzy and fellow fan Uinonah on Saturday and Sunday for long chats over delicious food in our favourite restaurants. Particularly the time spent in The Delaunay with afternoon tea was priceless! No photos exist of the encounter, though *hehe*.
But in terms of photos I traipsed around Kensington in the vicinity of my plush hotel and found myself in all those mews lanes that Heyerette always posts on Instagram. A gorgeous area indeed, and definitely a place that invites you to take pictures…
Before my plane left London (with two hours delay… so much for the ease and convenience of a city centre airport…), I spent all of Monday in the V&A which was close to my hotel. Being the first museum in the world to actually start collecting photographs, they have a fantastic exhibition on photography, including prints made by photographic pioneers such as Henry Fox Talbot and Roger Fenton in the mid-1800s. If you are interested in photography, you should definitely go there. (Free admission!)
And I got myself a little inspiration for future shrine work.
Bling!!!! I still have a few sparkly gems lying around somewhere 💎…
So yeah, it was great, I loved it, and I don’t know when I will be back – and how easy it will be, Brexit and all. Maybe I need to schedule another trip before the end of October. I am open to any reasons, especially if Mr Armitage could provide an occasion that makes travel to London absolutely necessary. We’ll see. In the mean time, a big thank you to Hariclea for her hospitality on Friday and for coming along to all those photo exhibitions, as well as Suzy and Uinonah for meeting up and spending time with us. And by proxy a wave, a hello and a hearty thanks to Mr A who made it all possible ;-). Here comes your karma, Rich 😘!