Monday, 29 July 2013

Sunshine and saints alive

It’s stinky sweaty hot in London right now and its been this way for several weeks. Frankly, if it carries on any longer we might actually have to start calling it a summer. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Only in London could pubs and flower
baskets seem such natural companions
It’s been a strange, busy, exhausting couple of weeks – the heat not helped by the cold I seem to be coming down with – or the fact that Lovely Boy and I have finally called time on London, having made the humongous decision to go back to Sydney at the end of October. I sobbed telling work, absolutely well and truly lost my shit about it. There was not a single toy left in the pram because I love the people I work with and I love my job (case in point: they were amazing and supportive and inspired and wonderful.)

I lost my shit because in a lot of ways I really don’t want to go – and only part of that is driven by a fear of the unknown that’s tugging at my guts like a toddler to a t-shirt. It’s been a big decision to come to terms with and I’ve been overwhelmed and grateful even to realise how much I love London and how extraordinary this time has been. To realise how lucky I am, we are, to be going home on our terms and still in the relative throes of a love affair with this city and not hating its frigging guts. Though there’s definitely something to read into the fact that we’ll be gone before the Europeans summer time ends.

Anyway, I’m determined not to be too maudlin about it, and I am now starting to get excited about the opportunities and adventures to be had in Sydney, both professionally and personally. But really, I just want to make the most of this weather and this time and this incredible city while we can.

Miles Aldridge for Vogue Italia
So yesterday I went with my dear friend Hannah to Somerset House for lunch and culture. I’ve only ever been to Somerset House to attempt ice-skating or see an exhibition at the Courtauld. I’ve never lunched on the river terrace (the service is haphazard and the food not cheap but the location and atmosphere is wonderful) nor seen an exhibition there so it was a lovely date, even if we were wilting and unhelpfully jealous of the small children dousing themselves in the fountain.

Miles Aldridge for Vogue Italia

The photography exhibition, a career retrospective of sorts of the fashion photographer Miles Aldridge was bright and shiny and quite stunning. His creative collaborations with Italian Vogue in particular are pretty impressive – he conjures these dark, female domestic narratives and tableaux which Vogue then decorate in high couture. Think super-saturated Stepford Wives and a compelling, creepy beauty.

Katharina Fritsch, Hahn / Cock, Trafalgar Square
Fourth Plinth Commission 2013
Because it was a modest show and because we were already in town, we decided to shadow hop our way to Trafalgar Square to see the latest Fourth Plinth commission, Hahn / Cock by German sculpture Katharina Fritsch. There’s a lot of mileage to be had in this work in the form of cheap gags but as an obvious metaphor for all the other male posturing going on in Trafalgar Square – from statues to street performers – it’s a straightforward enough work to appreciate with enough visual bang to be an effective addition to the Square. Plus, giving Boris Johnson the chance to make a complete, well, cock of himself by not being able to say the word ‘cock’ on its unveiling was just a free gift with commission really.

Katharina Fritsch, Hahn / Cock, Trafalgar Square
Fourth Plinth Commission 2013
Also going on in Trafalgar Square yesterday, on the steps of St-Martin-in-the-Fields
And because we were now in Trafalgar Square and because Michael Landy’s ‘Saints Alive’ exhibition at the National Gallery has been on my radar for a couple of weeks, we sought it out amid the crowds took refuge in the air conditioning.

Michael Landy, Saints Alive, National Gallery, London 2013
Landy’s been at the National Gallery since 2009 as the eighth Rootstein Hopkins Associate Artist. Bring his interests in assemblage, destruction and the story of things to bear here, Landy’s seven mechanical sculptures bring to life the deaths of several saints including Jerome, Thomas, Francis of Assissi and Catherine of Alexandria who are portrayed elsewhere in the gallery in paintings by artists including Botticelli and Carlo Crivelli.

Michael Landy, Saints Alive, National Gallery, London 2013
These larger than life sculptures are animated by the pushing of pedals and pulling of levers and there’s something quite shocking about seeing Saint Jerome thump his fibreglass chest with a heavy rock in the hope of quietening his impure sexual thoughts, never mind Apollonia reliving her torture by yanking her teeth out with a pair of pliers.

Michael Landy, Saints Alive, National Gallery, London 2013
There’s a great beauty to the sculptural, mechanical elements of these works and Landy’s preparatory collages, which decorate the walls of the first hall, are just exquisite. It’s well worth a visit. I haven't been back to the National Gallery since that truly memorable dinner last February and I should probably add a return visit to my bucket list if I'm going to continue to pretend that I work in the arts. 

Michael Landy, Saints Alive, National Gallery, London 2013
Anyway, it was a lovely, albeit steamy, day replete with great art and wonderful company. A Good Day. Here’s to a few more of them. 

No comments: