July 31, 2011

London Treasures


London - sitting on the first seat on the upper floor of a double decker and watching people, figuring out who the tourists are from their identical umbrellas just aquired from one of the hundreds of souvenir shops which apart from said umbrellas all seem to store replicas of Kate's engagement ring.


After I left Devon, waved goodbye to my Boyfriend and got off the coach a few hours later in London with beaches and waves still filling up my head. It's thrilling to arrive to a new city a finding your bearings, and after a good nights sleep I was more than ready to concentrate on some of the quirkier treasures of this great (by which I both mean wonderful and huge) city.

pink rooms
The Wallace Collection, Source

I've been yearning to revisit The Wallace Collection, a museum of 18th and 19th century art displayed in the original collector couple's London townhouse - I still felt like a visitor at the Wallaces' home, enjoying the decor and the furnishing of the house just as much as the paintings on display.

In each room they have a catalogue of the paintings so you can read about who is on the pictures and why - it was a bit like reading a 19th century gossip magazine, and it made the house come alive with chattering crinolined ladies who faint because Madame this-and-that wore that outrageous skirt when you-know-which Artist painted her portrait, "it's so terribly obvious she wants to seduce him"!

wallace collections
The Wallace Collection, Source

This visit only had me wishing for more quaint delights - so after hearing a lot about the Soane Museum, I decided to see it for myself. Whenever you're in London and would like to be transported not only in time but also in spirit, have a look at Sir John Soane's house. 

Sir John Soane's Museum, Source
Soane was an architect and utilised his talent to build a house that's not simply filled with nooks and crannies, it's entirely made out of them. Stepping into the house feels like descending into a labyrinth of narrow corridors an unexpected level changes, rooms whose walls turn out to be windows, that turn out to open onto another wall, that again turns out to be a window but opens onto a drop to the next floor... And everything is filled with Soane's collection of mostly architectural interest - antiques, architectural models and thousands of other bits and bobs. It feels like getting lost in a very eccentric person's brain.

(Photography wasn't allowed and it's very difficult to find good pictures of the place on the web too - you'll have to see it for yourselves!:)


What's better than spending a whole day in two museums? Spending the next day in only one. And if you've ever been to the Victoria and Albert Museum, you know you can spend not a day but more like a whole year there, there is just so much to see. When you're visiting a big museum, I recommend focusing on the topics you're most interested in, this way you can enjoy your visit and won't get frustrated at gathering way too much information.

So what I saw in my day spent there was the ceramics section, the Arts and Crafts movement room and 20th century jewellery - by which I was so blown away I had to get out and sit down, I simply had a shock of beauty.

Last but not least, I met the amazing ceramicist in residence, Claire Twomey.


Talking to her about how she works was the absolute highlight of my London visit. She was so accessible and kind, so happy to answer my questions. I got to know some of her art projects - like her "Blossom" at the Eden Project, where she left thousands of delicately handmade unfired china flowers to slowly melt back into the ground.

Blossom by Claire Twomey, Source

Or her exhibition (or rather installation) of 4000 little blue birds that only lasted a few hours as the visitors took them home, one by one.

Claire Twomey: Trophy, Source

She talked about the creative process of the collective artwork she creates, which not only includes her and the others who work on the physical producing of her ceramics, but also the audience, who is encouraged to actively take part in her art - taking the objects away, breaking them, or watching them disintegrate.

It was an amazing visit - in two days I saw so much art, some being created right before my eyes, some finished hundreds of years ago, still it all came alive around me. I watched London life walk or skip or rush past me, sat on the top of double deckers and walked through vast parks. Two days to enjoy and be inspired by, what more can you wish for?


Nikki said...

I loved the V&A! have you seen their jewelry hall! It's ah-mah-zing! We were in London for days and visited the museum twice. It's a million times better than the Louvre if y'ask me ^^ and sitting on the first seat on the upper floor of a double decker must be so awesome too! We only took metro's cause those buses only seemed to be stuck in traffic and since the weather was nice we figured we would be faster if we just walked ^^ x

Madeline Quaint said...

That's where I got beauty-shocked, went out, stared into space, then went back to look through it again and make sketches. The 20th century jewellery wall is... No words for it!

I took the bus as it was much cheaper than the Tube to get into the center from where I stayed - and I could sit on the top where only kids sat apart from me. :D

Lyddiegal said...

sounds like a great trip! i love the look of those tiny flowers... so unique and pretty!

foodfashionandflow said...

What an amazing trip! These photos are amazing!

foodfashionandflow said...

Those museums look so awesome!


Titine & Totoche said...

Hi Madeline! How cool!!! Her artwork is amazing & beautiful, could people just take a bird? How did you get to meet her? I was reminded of a Venezuelan artist who did something similar many years ago.

I'm glad you enjoyed your visit! I like how you showed something different than what I usually see about London. And though I've never been to London, I'd love to visit those three museums.

Saludos :)

Sarah said...

You make me sad that the only time I was in London I was there for three days and had no freedom, really. I did get to go to Tate, but there are, apparently, plenty of awesome places I've never seen. Next time you go on holiday, you should pay for me to come... hahaha.

Joni James said...

You take great photos!

Madeline Quaint said...

I found it amazing that they melted back into the soil... Makes you think of letting go of things.

Madeline Quaint said...

There are so many museums in London which are abslutely amazing - and free!

Madeline Quaint said...

I read on the website it's an open studio on that day and nobody else was there apart from me - it was a great experience!

There are so many absolutely amazing museums to look at in London and they're all free! (You only have to pay for special exhibitions and I didn't attend those.:)

Madeline Quaint said...

I wish I could, but next time I win the lottery or suddenly become a heiress, I'll shoot you an e-mail. :)

The good thing about London is that there is so much you can do for free. These museums cost me nothing. The only thing really expensive there is getting around but with an Oyster card and sticking to buses you can save an awful lot. I spent most of my money on the plane tickets so I really didn't have any other choice but see London the cheapskate way. :)

Madeline Quaint said...

Thank you!

The Cat Hag said...

Wow, you had such a good visit babe!

And you know what? When I was younger, I would always dash to occupy that front seat on the upper deck of buses, and day-dream as the bus went on its way. I love looking at the city though that scenic big window. ♥

The Cat Hag
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Madeline Quaint said...

I liked it a lot that my neighbours on the front seat were always kids, I love listening to them. Especially when they were first time visitors! I tried not to laugh at grandma's explanations of London stuff. :) "Oxford Circus is called that because there used to be a circus there." Ahhaa... :D

http://sajuki.blogspot.com said...

great photos :)

Madeline Quaint said...

Thanks. :)

hivenn said...

LOVE all of these! x hivenn

Madeline Quaint said...

Thanks! Hope you are well! :)

BoulevarddelaMadeleine said...

What an amazing trip. All the photos are amazing. I also love your detailed account. It made me wish I was there.

Jamillah said...

Madeline I really really love this post. I mean really really love. I have a soft place for London in my heart and I am sad I never visited the Wallace Collection on my many stays there.

I completely looooove the work of Twomey. I had not heard of her but the pieces you've mentioned really warm my heart. I love it. Like love love...omigosh I can't really say "love" more in this post!!! So sorry for the redundancy but really wonderful account of your visit to London.

Madeline Quaint said...

Thank you, sometimes I get worried that people won't read my posts if they're too long. I'm so glad you felt like visiting London while reading it. :)

Madeline Quaint said...

Jamillah, I'm so glad you enjoyed reading my post! :)
Claire Twomey is a genious and a warmhearted one at that - how lucky I could meet her.
I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities for you to visit the Wallace Collection, it's really worth it!

The Waves said...

What a great post; it made me miss London. I lived in London for four years, and it is amazing how much there is to see there. So much life and energy! (Btw, it is funny how almost every post you write makes me miss a place I used to visit or live in; Budapest, Balaton, and now London.) :)