Thursday, 9 February 2012

down to the sticks, up to the smoke

We’ve been having some very nice times in two separate and contrasting trips.

First we had a weekend trip to Devon, starting last Friday on Steve’s birthday when we went down to visit some special friends. We were joined by another set of friends from Oxford and hooked up with others locally the following day to celebrate two birthdays at the newly-opened River Cottage Canteen in Plymouth.

It was a fab weekend of country walks, generous meals, sea views, laughter, conversation and friendship.

After a brief return to Bristol for Monday childcare fun, we were off again on a very different jaunt in the opposite direction. One thing I miss about our previous location in Oxfordshire is the easy access to London –we just don’t get there very often these days.

Our train journey on Tuesday was very badly delayed by signalling problems, but we did eventually manage to get to the Royal Academy to see David Hockney’s wonderful new exhibition, A Bigger Picture

The blast of colour in these paintings of the Yorkshire landscape is a real feast for the senses. Hockney clearly works very quickly and some of the paintings seem almost slapdash and crude, but then you catch a touch of extraordinary subtlety and grace that renders the landscape totally recognisable. It seems to me that David Hockney has spent his career looking, looking and looking and then showing what he sees so that we in turn are forced to look and see.

Wednesday’s visit to Grayson Perry’s Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum was a last minute addition to the schedule, but as is so often the case, it was the thing that made the trip for me.

It’s funny, thoughtful, touching and extremely skilful - combining work from the BM collection with Perry’s own work. I came away with the hardback catalogue as an early birthday present because I want to be reminded of his words and ideas as much as the artefacts.

Somehow I had managed never to visit the British Museum before and we were very impressed by Foster & Partners’ stunning airy treatment of the Great Court.

All in all a lovely week in the life of the newly retired!

Note: While I have been putting this blog post together, Steve has done a David Hockney on me and blasted out a quick, stream-of-consciousness perfectly judged review of the two shows, which captures them perfectly.

Photo credits: Devon photos - Steve; exhibition photos from RA and BM websites.


  1. Can't believe you've never been to the BM before, it's been one of my favourite places since I was about 9! I was there a couple of weeks ago, enjoying the Iran and Africa rooms, also the Wellcome gallery. Glad you enjoyed it, great pic of the court.

  2. I know. Can't quite believe it myself. Suppose I've tended to go art galleries rather than museums. Will definitely be back now I've discovered it!

  3. Hockney and Grayson Perry !! To borrow a phrase from my son ... you jammy devil! Glad you had such a good time :D

  4. Lost the link to your blog so catching up on posts! I often wish we lived closer to London (train fares from here are astronomical)as we miss so much stuff. I'd love to see the Hockney exhibition and I'd love to meet Grayson Perry's bear, Alan Measles! (If it helps, I have never been to the BN either.)