Ylva111's Blog

Fashion, terror and the Gods – London in November

November 11, 2017
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For those of us who were here or anywhere in the world at the time, the images of Nine Eleven will stay with us forever.  At the Age of Terror exhibition dozens of newspaper front pages from around the world make a vivid impact at the start and reverse images of the two towers on the floor creates a sense of the height of the blocks.  And for those who need reminding or were too young at the time (or not even born) there is a film showing news broadcasts of  the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York as it happened on 11 September 2001.

This new exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, London occupies most of Level 3 and is sparsely and elegantly displayed to maximise the impact of each statement and art work. The exhibition is about what happened afterwards – the global response to the Age of Terror through art works and videos.  It is not a comfortable exhibition as we come face to face with increased state control, rendition, new weapons, drone attacks, as well as increased security, the loss of personal freedom and detentions.  Age of Terror continues until 28 May www.iwm.org.uk

 

Diana’s dresses at Kensington Palace

At Kensington Palace I caught the last few days of the Enlightened Princesses exhibition, covering the 18th century royals, Augusta, Caroline and Charlotte, spurred by the stimulating two-day conferences on “enlightened royal” women across Europe, organised by Historic Royal Palaces.

Does Princess Diana fall into this category? We will never know her full potential but she certainly did a lot for fashion as the exhibition now at Kensington Palace shows.  More than 20 of her most iconic outfits are on display, many designed by British designers such as Caroline Walker. It illustrates how her taste changed and fashion evolved from the ruffles of her younger years to the elegance and sleekness of her later evening gowns.  They are here, individually displayed on  fashion dummies but also in photographs of Diana and the occasions when she wore a particular dress, each contributing to the story of her public achievements and private sorrows.

This is another trip down memory lane, tinged with sadness because of her premature death. For the fashionistas it’s a treat – and there are fans here from all over the world to see these beautiful dresses.  Unfortunately the exhibition is crammed into some not very large spaces, so there is queuing at busy times.  It continues until the end of the year.  www.hrp.org.uk/kensingtonpalace

 

What next – well it’s the British Museum again…

Listening to the beguiling voice of Neil MacGregor (former director of the British Museum) each morning on BBC Radio 4, describing one of a hundred objects linked to religion, took me to the museum for the Living with Gods exhibition.  Here you can see each of the artefacts described on the radio and many more.  This exhibition is in the small display area above the old Reading Room so not big, but just right for this interpretation of mainly small and sometimes very personal objects used in religious worship.

If you haven’t listened to the radio broadcasts, I recommend the audio guide to get the full benefit of the stories behind these sometimes humble objects.  You will leave convinced (as though we needed it) that all religions have more in common than some of the faithful believe.  Here you can share stories, objects, images, prayers, meditation and rituals with others from different faiths.  The power of prayer, the importance of festivals and pilgrimage and the marking of key life experiences can be found in all religions, and even those who have given up religion altogether will enjoy exploring the cultural experiences we share with others.

The exhibition touches on religious differences but on the whole you will leave this exhibition uplifted with a feeling of communion.  And there is a gift shop!  http://www.britishmuseum.org

 More from me at my website to ylvafrench.co.uk

 

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Discover Venice in London

May 25, 2017
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Can’t face the thought of the summer crowds in Venice? Why not head to the Queen’s Gallery in London where Canaletto and the Art of Venice has just opened?  Mind you, there may be a few obstacles as you make your way along Buckingham Palace Road with other tourists in search of the Palace.  Passing the porticoed entrance to the Queen’s Gallery, some are tempted inside to explore the shop; others join the queue for the Gallery, sometimes in the mistaken belief that they are entering the Palace itself.

All this, as well as the entrance charge, will be worth it, however, for all lovers of Venetian art. So take your time to explore this beautifully presented exhibition which includes not just the Queen’s works by Canaletto but many works of art by his contemporaries, such as Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, Rosalba Carriera, Zuccarelli and Battista.

Who was Joseph Smith?

The common factor apart from Venice itself is Joseph Smith, who as British Consul in Venice, put together an extraordinary collection not just of paintings but also of books and prints, which was sold to King George III in 1765. As a result the Royal Collection has one of the world’s most outstanding works from this golden age of Venetian art.

The exhibition starts with two familiar views of the annual Regatta on the Grand Canal, and then explores Canalettos works from his early drawings. At the Queen’s Gallery, when it is not too busy, it’s possible to get a very close look at his skilful technique displayed from an early age.  It was this which attracted Joseph Smith to the young Giovanni Antonio Canal (1697 – 1768) later known as Canaletto.  Works by other Venetians follow – don’t miss Rosalba Carriera’s wonderful pastels of the four seasons. In the largest gallery, you can inspect the sequence of 12 paintings commissioned by Smith which takes you along the Grand Canal stage by stage.  And that’s not all, less well-known views of Roman ruins are also included in this comprehensive exhibition.

Canaletto became a favourite with the British on the Grand Tour and there are many works in collections around the country – many more than in Italy. Canaletto also spent ten years in England working for a variety of stately home owners.

The exhibition continues until November. More on http://www.royalcollection.org.uk

And more in my book….

The exhibition displays Canaletto’s work in the context of other artists in Venice at the time, many of whom were supported by Joseph Smith. In my book Finding Veronese – Memoir of a painting, I follow one of these works, a copy of a Veronese altarpiece probably by Sebastiano Ricci, and its journey across Europe from Venice to London, to Scotland and finally to Sweden.

Go to ylvafrench.co.uk to read more about Finding Veronese – Memoir of a painting, available as an E-book on Amazon.