Monday, 5 December 2011

Beyond Leonardo

Spotted in Trafalgar Square - wonderful pattern of tiles
We have just returned from a magical four days break - hosted by dear friends living in Chiswick (London). From the moment we arrived on Friday, we were indulged and cosseted. It was perfect, and just what we needed after six months non-stop churning out feature articles. Don't get me wrong, please; I love what I am doing, thrive on it in fact, do not 'churn' but carefully craft what I write. But - just sometimes - to be able to spend time reading and chatting and exchanging remembrances of years past is a welcome respite. We meet about twice a year, here in our chaotic Cotswold wilderness; or in Chiswick where we do not have to suffer the daily noise of traffic passing our bedroom window. Indeed, there is no traffic sound at all! Bliss.

Leonardo at The National Gallery (London)
Enough of our private and personal exchanges. On Saturday we were taken to the National Gallery and the  fantastic exhibition 'Leonardo da Vinci - Painter at the Court of Milan'. Strange to be back in central London, once - over 50 years ago - so familiar to me when, as a student, I visited art galleries and museums, theatres and libraries and never felt the threat of people pressing too close. Yet the cosmopolitan presence all around me did not intimidate but had that buzz of individual participation; every couple or family oblivious to anyone else. Trafalgar Square is now, quite frankly, a mess, but no doubt with a purpose to draw visitors towards whatever they feel to be personally special. 

Spectacular - and the late afternoon light was such that I could capture
Nelson's ship-in-a-bottle AND Nelson's Column
Plaque explaining Nelson's ship-in-a-bottle - significant words
Arriving early for 'Leonardo', my camera drew me towards the curious ship-in-a-bottle, and not the rather boring and overshadowed traditional Christmas tree dwarfed by Nelson's Column (the tree: a Norwegian spruce, and a gift every year to the British people from Norway across the North Sea). Equally banal was the Olympics 2012 count-down clock which I might have photographed had it not been one of those 'must-have' images of "been-there, done-that; and here's the photo to prove it!" You experience it the world over, iconic venues destroyed by tick-it-off-the-list tourists. Of course, that's a personal opinion, as was my reaction to 'Leonardo da Vinci - Painter to the Court of Milan'. Even there, I was as much observing the stream of onlookers as recording my own reactions and wonderment. 

But, all that I have already written in this post is my considered observation, subsequent to the day; and my final penning - a 'word-whisper' - was written on the spot as I absorbed atmosphere and, truly, the magic of being there. I find the press of people difficult and withdraw into myself; but from that very special gifted day will emerge another sequence in my 'Quilted Journey'. The elements are now there; I must just make time to gather them into my ongoing mixed-media fabric and paper travel journal.

Double-click on the 'word-whisper' image (left) to be able to read it. My thoughts on how I will interpret the exhibition and what it meant to me will appear in due course - my notes at present are contained within one of my journaling sketchbooks.

Meanwhile, we are back home; so grateful for the kindness of friends - and if you read this, dear T & A, it's our turn to entertain you come the New Year, though we cannot offer mimosa and parakeets in a secluded Chiswick garden, nor high street shops, but fresh eggs from our eight hens in the apple orchard, and perhaps a muddy walk (tramp) through the local fields and woods.