Sunday, 12 June 2011
If you’re a fan of the Aesthetic Movement, Orientalism, Medievalism or the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, here’s a suggestion for a great, leisurely day out in London. While all these art movements used naturalistic elements and favoured the art object as a thing of beauty, the Aesthetic movement was influenced by the discovery of Pompeii in 1749, Japanese art, Turkish desgins and Arab calligraphy and mosaics.
Begin the day with a visit to Lord Frederic Leighton’s stunning home in the Holland Park area. For only a fiver, enjoy the splendour of the golden mosaic frieze walls of the Arab Hall or enjoy Lord Leighton’s fabulous collection of Iznik ceramics and peacock-hued tiles that adorn the various rooms. If you're there before the crowds come through, you will feel that you’re a guest in his home as you stroll from room to room. Notice the natural light in his mega-studio as well as his impressive collection of works from Watts, Millais and other contemporaries.
From here, it’s only a short walk to the Victoria and Albert museum where the Cult of Beauty exhibition is running until the 17th of July 2011. If you have a Waterstones card, you can get 2 for 1 tickets to view all things Aesthetic and Pre-Raphaelite. Besides the numerous painting and Objects d’Art you’ll find William Morris wallpaper designs.
If you miss the exhibition, the V and A is full of beautiful things to entice anyone through its rooms anyway – so it won’t be a wasted visit. Don’t leave without lunching at the V&A Cafe/Restaurant or at least having a coffee while admiring the splendid Morris, Gamble and Poynter rooms, all originally built and decorated especially for the museum.
If you want something more substantial to tempt your Aesthetic tastes than the shop’s offerings, visit Liberty shopping store where the top floor is selling ‘Art and Crafts’ from the mid-1800s. You can purchase chairs, cabinets, sketches and various art objects that are products of the Aesthetic movement. Or just enjoy rambling through Liberty’s 5 floors before stopping at their watering hole for a cappuccino and a lemon tart.
Warning – I’ve had better ‘afternoon tea’ at other locations in London. For smaller, less expensive gift items you may want to pick up something from their stationery room or choose a scented soap from 20 different combinations on offer for under a fiver. Writers beware, Liberty has a fabulous collection of their own embossed leather bound journals but these cost a bomb. Their Manolo Blahnik and Christian Lacroix journals are much cheaper and equally as interesting!