Friday, 27 November 2009

Artist's date at Vic and Albie's

I've lived in London for close to a decade now and yesterday visited the V&A museum for the first time, properly. The South Asia section has Tipu Sultan's wonderful mechanical tiger. It's life-size and depicts a tiger nipping a European soldier in the neck. There are some stunning life-size portraits of Indian dynastic rulers. The room is also full of beautiful paintings of Mughal rulers and stories from the lives. This is definitely a place to go when I am ready to write my story of romance set in the Mughal period. The Jewellery rooms are inspirational and full of unique designs that I'm sure are being copied even today. There is a winding steel staircase in the middle of the blue-black coloured room.

There are also a few Rodins that I must return for: The Fallen Angel - are they two bodies kissing, is it two people entwined deeply in each other's arms or is it just one Icarus-like angel with wings sweeping the granite coloured ground? The Muse - twisted, armless. Is she Rodin's muse? Everytime I see a life-size Rodin I'm tempted to rock it from side to side, in search of its fulcrum, to see where he filled the base and where he left it hollow for that delicate, measured balance that every metal sculpture of Rodin's contained. Another favourite was the Prodigal Son - the way it occupies space in the room is fantastic, stretching out into air, trying to free itself from the V&A's sculpture room and the left hand is almost curled into a fist. Why?

My discoveries of the day: Two corridors of Frederic Leighton's frecoes and mock-ups of 'The Art of Industry as applied to Peace' and 'The Art of Industry as applied to War.' There were some stunning, magnificent, huge Edward Burne-Jones.

Another precious and valuable discovery: Beatrix Potter's original illustrations in pencil and in ink of Peter Rabbit, the Flopsy bunnies and others. What makes them so valuable is not the illustrations that she made herself - every ink mark and ink colour exquisitely shown in the mellow lights of the special exhibit, but the museums' narrative explaining her method and process leading to publication. She used text and image precisely, actually drawing out the sketches and watching them sit with the text on the opposite page on blank books - in fact creating the dummies for the published material, to make sure the text and image sat next to each other harmoniously.

The Theatre and Performance rooms were a wonderful revelation and surprise. I think I could easily sit or wander around those 4 or 5 rooms and find something for inspiration: whether the wonderful photo of Nuyreyev demostrating the Nutcracker and captured forever in a stunning ballet pose that will always occupy an amazing pace in time (taken by Reg Wilson). Or the Victorian marionette of a skeleton next to a very moustachioed and bearded red devil, or the amazing set models for different plays that are displayed that made me oooohhh and aaaaahhh in awe. Especially after the classe I had last night on compostion and form in theatre - but that's for another blog. All in all, a successful hour and a half of an artist's date chock full of inspirational references for the future.

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