Those nice people at The Old Stile Press sent over some tickets for an Exhibtion/Fair at the Royal Academy in London yesterday so R and I braved the engineering works on the Southern region trains and made our slow way by car, coach and train to the capital.
The exhibition was vast, taking up two floors of the Royal Academy of Arts (which looks pretty filthy and nondescript from the outside these days), so took most of the afternoon simply to ensure we'd been in every room.
Of course, the artwork on display: Burne-Jones, Simeon Solomon, Paul Nash, Eric Ravillious, Kate Greenaway, Henry Moore, Lord Snowdon, and a whole host of other famous and not so famous names, was all fantastic but it was hot, crowded and very just so damn big, very soon one wall of pictures begins to blur into another and it becomes very difficult to remember items that stand out. There was a particularly interesting stand by a gallery in Salisbury specialising in book illustration which included a marvelous Dulac, a couple of fantastic fantasy book illustrations and a beautiful cover painting for a book called 'The Silver Swan' the name of who's painter escapes me entirely. And one could go on... remembering the picture in a vague kind of way but having had the time to appreciate it properly and let the details sink in. Of course, the pseudonymously titled room 'Covered' where the artists' books were housed was something of a highlight for me but beyond that, only twenty-four hours later the whole thing is a bit of a blur.
Having said that, I wouldn't want you to go running off with the idea that it wasn't a fantastic day. It was and a lot of my increasing claustrophobia during the day I guess has to be put down to the sheer number of people and the continued strain involved in avoiding being touched and bumped. It was great to be in London again as I haven't been for a long long time now. It was great to be out and about with R (this counts as our Valentine's Day Treat). It was amazing and inspiring to see so many beautiful things in one place at one time. And the meal at an Italian in Compton Street afterwards wasn't too bad either!
One definite highlight, as always, the walk back to Waterloo across the Thames in the dark. London is, quite simply, one of the most breath-takingly beautiful cities in the world.
And perhaps the best thing about the exhibition...? Being able to come away with a little piece of art tucked under our arms courtesy of the 'drawing swap'! A novel idea. Bring a drawing with you or sit at a table and do one on the day, hand it in and take a reciept. It gets stuck to the wall with all the others. At the end of the day come back and you can then swap your receipt for any picture of the wall which takes your fancy and which you are quick enough and (in my case) tall enough to nab. So we came away with two life drawings from the 1920s - one female and one male. I had resolved earlier in the day not to get yet another half-naked man or boy to go on the wall of my study, but to be honest, most of the stuff on the wall was life drawing and nothing from the minority which wasn't really grabbed me. Anyway - how cool to be able to say that one my drawings has hung on the walls of the Royal Academy! And here he is, my new chum below - haven't thought yet of a name for him.