Sunday, June 30, 2013

You know you're in the UK when...

When “dot com” goes missing

That's nice, Spotify

The voice-overs for the ads all have British accents. Listening to Spotify just got more enjoyable.

LINGO: a sign by Westminister Abbey

"Please order at the till."
I'm going to guess it means windowsill.

Says the sign near Westminister Abbey.
—It was closed, otherwise I would have asked. Or just ordered at the till.

London, day three

That's how the day started.

And then we packed up, moved out of the hostel, and caught the train and tube back into the city. Due to some delays, it took us a little longer than anticipated (mind you, we are hauling all of our heavy luggage around) so when we got to our friend of a friend's house, they had already left for church! Not to be deterred, we brought all of our things back to the tube, and then to the singles ward. Oh yeah. We left it in the bathrooms during the services, which was nice. Church was lovely. The building is right in the center of London, and it feels like a visitors center for a temple. I think there were a lot of visitors, because only one person came up to talk to us. But I honestly was too tired to really mind. After the sacrament was blessed (with british accents), I totally fell asleep. The next two hours of church were combined, so that everyone could watch "The work of Salvation" broadcast that came out last week. I had already seen it, so I had no qualms about falling asleep again. For the whole two hours. It was dark, and the AC was broken so it was really warm...

After church we came to our friend's house, and they were home! It is a beautiful place, five stories tall, and very very narrow. About one smallish room wide, and two rooms deep. I love it. It's decorated a bit Jane Austen-esque. Quite romantic. We were invited to dinner, which was a blast, and then went for a walk in St. James Park. Stunning.

The park leads to Buckingham Palace.

I spy a red guard. He was far away.

This is the former duck-keepers cottage.
I suppose ducks needed tending to back then.

And then we just explored around a bit:

And found this guy again!

And also this:
Westminister Abbey, in case you didn't know.

All in all, quite a perfect walk. Did I mention the sun was setting, so the lighting was perfect? It's fun to travel with Heather, because I feel like we see things similarly!

Also, a completely irrelevant but interesting side note: the manholes here are square. That's one of the first things I noticed.

And then the day ended with Skyping this lovely family of mine. :)

While posting this, I listened to Elder Holland's last conference talk, which is really great (I listened to it 4 times in a row). I love how he emphasizes staying close to God, as well as letting people into your home, because they may need it (don't be a home-hog). I was surprised with how strongly he condoned selfishness. Even though I'm studying abroad (let's be honest here, it's a pretty selfish endeavor) I think there must be ways to reach out and help others. I'll be on the lookout.

The Tate Modern

After eating lunch in the park, we caught the tube to the London Bridge station, and then began walking west in search of the Tate Modern. We walked along the Thames, and it was crowded! I think we were by the wine street, because there were tons of wine shops! Also, we passed Shakespeare’s Globe Theater! It looked really neat, and I kind of wish we could go. But no time! Ya!

So after about a 15 minute walk, we found the Tate! It’s big. And it’s under construction right now. Well, part of it is. So we had to enter from the backside, which was fine. Did I mention they have three gift shops? The main hall was the part that was being renovated, which kind of stinks, since that's the coolest part of the building! The galleries that they had open were small, but still interesting. There was a surrealist exhibit that was pretty trippy, and then this beautiful gallery of modernist, constructivist, and minimalist art that Heather and I both really liked.

These are the pieces I liked enough to pull out my phone and snap a picture of:

The Three Dancers, Pablo Picasso

Untitled, Gego

Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red,  Piet Mondrian

“I want to come as close as possible to the truth, and abstract everything from that until I reach the foundation of things.”
—Piet Mondrian

'monument' for V Tatlin, Dan Flavin

Composition C (No.III) with Red, Yellow and Blue, Piet Mondrian
Composition, Bart van der Leck

Untitled, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian

Orange Relief with Green, Ellsworth Kelly

Black Square with Blue, Ellsworth Kelly

Study for Homage to the Square, Josef Albers

Heather and I both took 2-D Design many moons ago, and studied
Albers' color studies. Amazing experience to see them in real life. 

Untitled (Bacchus), Cy Twombly


From Surface to Surface, Susumu Koshimizu

Other favorites include:

White Curve, Ellsworth Kelly

“I think that if you can turn off the mind and look only with the eyes, ultimately everything becomes abstract.”
—Ellsworth Kelly

Man with a Newspaper, René Magritte

Trip Hammer, Richard Serra

Grey, Gerhard Richter

“Grey is the epitome of non-statement. It does not trigger off feelings or associations, it is actually neither visible nor invisible... Like no other colour it is suitable for illustrating ‘nothing.’ ”
—Gerhard Richter

Untitled, Donald Judd
I can't believe I got to see two Judd pieces! This one was
particularly beautiful.

Counter-Composition VI, Theo van Doesburg
One of the De Stijl movement founders.

And so many more!

My notes from the exhibit. We moved through pretty fast so my
notes are scattered. Mostly it's just names of artists so I can look
them up on the Tate Modern's website later!

I'll be back to update this post. Later.
Tate's website here

Saturday, June 29, 2013

LINGO: A sign near Oxford Circus

"No Busking."
It means no street performing of any kind. I know. I would have guessed drug dealing or tap dancing.

Says the sign near the Oxford Circus station.
—Note that in this situation "Persons" a proper noun

London, day two

The tube. Each station is decorated differently. Thought this one was pretty interesting.

Day two: getting the hang of things. The day started with a trip to the art store to buy a sketchbook. An A5 size sketchbook. Yes.

Then a trip to Borough Market, which was amazing. I took a lot of photos, but on my camera. So you'll have to wait till the end of summer to see those. At the market we bought all sorts of fresh food! Strawberries, baby carrots, apricots, apple, banana, fresh sourdough bread, and brie. It was a good trip. And got a three or four meals for the next few days.

Then, laden with our food, we went to Regent Park, which was beautiful. Queen Mary's rose garden was incredible. I think I have a new favorite flower. Even though roses are a bit cliche. After seeing nearly 100 varieties, and smelling at least 30 of them, they're a hard flower not to love. We ate our little lunch on a bench, and just enjoyed the general splendor.

Asian tourist baby that got tired of riding his scooter.


After that lovely lunch, we caught the tube back to London Bridge station and walked along the Thames to the Tate Modern. Amazing museum. Lots of good things in there. Even just a few hours in there doesn't feel like enough. I'll post about it another night though—I'm so tired!

Another ride on the tube to a place we heard had "free live jazz music and sketch." Turns out it was inside of a restaurant, that was extremely high class. Like people wearing diamonds and party dressed, hopping out of limos and what not. Uh, so we did not go in. They had a bouncer wearing a bowler cap!

We ended up grabbing lunch in a little cafe across the street instead, and eating the rest of our strawberries. The food in London is pretty healthy. I like how they eat. Though it's pricey. But, maybe that's just Europe.

Another observation: things are pretty energy-efficient here. Or, at least use-as-little-energy-as-possible. From low pressure sinks and showers, to tiny cars and a killer public transport system it's been fun to see a very different way of living. Though a little less fun when you have to press a button every 11 seconds in the shower to keep the water flowing. But I'm not complaining. I'M IN EUROPE!

LINGO: Londoner in the polyester trousers

Remarks to her friend: "Oh that Arthur. What a blood clot."

Says the girl in the brightly colored polyester floral print trousers
—She's wearing trousers, not pants. Because pants are underwear. Overheard while riding the evening rail headed back to the hostel; westbound from Charing Cross. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

The National Gallery

Can you say breathtaking? And full of famous art? That I've only dreamed about seeing?

Like all these bathers, which are really huge paintings by the way:

Bathers, Paul Cézanne

Bathers at Asnieres, Georges Seurat

Or all this Turner:

The Fighting Temeraire, Joseph Mallord William Turner

Ulysses deriding Polyphemus- Homer's Odyssey, 

Margate, from the Sea

Rain, Steam, and Speed - The Great Western Railway

Or these other peices I recognised:

The Water-Lily Pond, 1899, Claude-Oscar Monet

The Execution of Maximilian, Edouard Manet

Portrait of a Man (Self Portrait?), Jan van Eyck

A Wheatfield, with Cypresses, Vincent Van Gogh

Portrait of Cézanne, Camille Pissarro

Avenue at Chantilly, Paul Cézanne

Virgin on the Rocks, Leonardo da Vinci

Van Gogh's Chair, Vincent van Gogh

Or these pieces that I didn't recognise, but really loved:

Whistlejacket, George Stubbs

The composition on this one is so beautiful. Stunning. I love the placement. Oh, and this is life-size. 

Irises, Claude-Oscar Monet

The Beach at Trouville, Claude-Oscar Monet

Emile Bernard, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Old school Lautrec! This is before he hit his stride and found his own voice and style, and then eventually changed the world with his graphic and bold litho posters, to the point of ending up getting a full class period of lecture in HIstory of Graphic Design class two years ago. Thank you Professor Hale! Glad I paid attention.

Battle of San Romano, Paolo Uccello

The Magdalen Reading, Rogier van der Weyden

A Man Reading (Saint Ivo?), Rogier van der Weyden

I love this one and the one above because of the calligraphy that is included. In both portraits, the detail is incredible, sharp, and (if you can read latin) clear enough to read. But I think what I really love is seeing people interact with printed/written words, just a few years before the press was invented. Amazing. Thank you Professor Duvall, Honors Civ 2: the Power of Printing.

Lake Keitele, Akseli Gallen Kallela

But I think the crowning moment of the visit was this:

Giovanni Arnolfini and His Bride, Jan van Eyck
And Sarah Kay, who is not a Bride

Mom and Dad, this one's for you. Thank you for teaching me art my whole life, and from such a young age! I was able to appreciate so much art, and I've never ever taken an art history class. I think that goes to show some extraordinary parenting. This painting was everything and more than what Mom described  with such detail and love on more than one occasion.

All in all, it was an amazing visit. I bought an overpriced postcard of that cute couple to paste in my sketchbook. When I get one...

As we exited the museum (at closing. they shuffled us out, three minutes early) we saw this lovely view:

I spy Big Ben. And a Gay Pride concert.

The National Gallery. An amazing collection. Great way to end the day.
And then saw the front of the museum. Turns out we had originally entered the museum from the back way through the gift shop.

It was probably the best way to spend a Friday night in London.