13.12.2014 - 16.01.2015 10 °C
After a quick review of the previous blog it was clear that I had missed so much of what might also fall under the term 'art' and that I should rectify that. I really didn't believe too much in that jet lag stuff, but here I am blogging at 4.30am, wide awake - well, time will tell.
London, Paris and Rome could be considered some of the fashion capitals of the world, and whilst it is not something I get the least bit interested in would suggest that it is everywhere. Not only on the streets and boutiques but revered and highlighted in museum collections and displays. Florence has an unparalleled fame for its leather. As most of you will know, I have had a long association with museums and art galleries over the past 30 years, and my interest often goes beyond purely looking at the artwork or material on display. I love that there are new facilities being built and opened to display of human history, and I often find myself evaluating the smallest details of labels (alluded to in the previous blog), lighting, the way in which galleries are set out, how easy are key works to access, and simple things such as what are the toilets like and would I buy coffee there again. Whist I try to hide all of these 'associated' and peripheral evaluations whilst on-site, I do find it hard. It is one of the reasons that we went to Margate to see the new Turner Contemporary Gallery, which is both architecturally stunning and holds a nice collection of Turner work. Even the display of the Queens collections at the Tower of London is a stunning assortment of both interesting and macabre material associated with the Tower over a 1000 years. Who couldn't find an object that really connected with them?
And I think this is the great thing about touring Europe, the collections are vast (as they have been accumulated over millennia) and the facilities, whether old or new, are cared for and loved, and more than often are open to the public for a small fee. It is with this in mind that I add to my ramblings of yesterday. As everywhere, there are 'art' related objects. Even the hotel in which we stayed in in Rome was the remnants of a 2nd Century building. Yes re-modelled many times, and now a Hotel and working Chapel, but the artwork, the ceiling frescos, the sculpture, both inside and out, punctuate all of those re-models with staggeringly beautiful work. Maybe not your Teipolo, but breath taking none the less. Religion has left us with some beautiful iconography, whether you believe in the teachings or not.
One of the glaring omissions from blog 1 was the work of Bernini. Gian Lorenzo Bernini was responsible for some of the greatest sculptural work (outside of Michelangelo) of any Renaissance sculptor, and his work got quite a reinterpretation through the Dan Brown books. Sharon, as a reader of those books had a new found interest in the work, and I had studied him (as a special subject) at art school, so it was great that we could share in the locating of, and enjoyment of this artists work. Probably the highlight was seeing the St Peters Baldachin and the Fountain of the Four Rivers. We even cast a coin into the Fontana della Api and posed under the sculpture of David. We did however miss Apollo and Daphne and The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa as both were off display for conservation.
Conservation now forms part of many displays in museums and chapels with some being undertaken with full disclosure panels talking about the work being undertaken, and windows through which to see both the work and the workers, and in some cases (such as the Vatican Museum) where a special glass room has been constructed through which you can watch the conservator cleaning a Bernini model. This gives viewers a new way of looking at art.
I didn't mention that I love glass and so it was great to get across to Murano to see the craftsmen at work. If it hadn't been for Sharon talking to strangers it would never have happened, but the stranger represented the city of Venice and was promoting travel to the island through giving out free taxi tickets. We had already decided that the boat trip was too expensive however as it turned out we got to Murano and from there got a free taxi ride to Burano where exquisite lace is made. Mind you we did buy a very beautiful piece of glass over a wine or two provided by the factory. So if you're travelling look out for opportunities that might present themselves. Take a credit card.
It would be easy to travel the globe and see painting in the highlights. See all of those paintings we have been brought up with on our calendars, and they are all festooned in these wonderful collections, and others. They are in corner churches, and now in some cases relocated to the shopping mall so you can get a dose of art whilst you're shopping. There are city tours which will take you on the most wonderful journey through the city depositing you at small chapels, which happens to have a Carravagio inside, or a bust by Bernini or a ceiling fresco by Raphael. We took the 'hop on hop off bus' in most of the venues we stopped at and hiked from the stops to places of interest. Take good walking shoes as even though you are in 'fashion' towns, comfort is all important when you may walk 5-6 hour, or more a day.
I love art, and I love creativity. If you are intending to travel, and as part of that travel to see an art gallery or two, be selective, know what you want to see and why. If it's the Mona Lisa then be prepared for the 'I saw it' experience as you will never get close enough to really enjoy it. There are stunning works in the same gallery which are disregarded as we search for the ideal. Pace yourself as it can be overwhelming, room after room of ceiling frescoes or family portraits (as in the Queens residence at Hollyrood Castle). And if you want to get a real buzz out of the visit buy an audio guide as the real stories and the real understanding of art and culture is through the experts.
Sometimes you even get a nice welcome at the beginning. Prince Charles welcomed us to Hollyrood Castle. Thanks Charles. Depressing place to live, but there you go.