I stopped reviewing exhibitions a while back as I felt I wasn’t doing a good enough job of it but I haven’t stopped going to them. Bob Dylan at the National Portrait Gallery was disappointing, Michael Landy’s Saints Alive at the National Gallery was great fun, reminiscent of the ICA’s Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition back in the 60s. Bruce Munroe’s light sculptures at Waddesdon House, particularly the Christmas collection, have been wonderful and the Beastly Hall exhibition of modern art at Hall Place was intriguing. However, the one unmissable exhibition this year is Heaven in a Hell of War: Stanley Spencer’s war paintings loaned from Sandham Memorial Chapel while the chapel is being renovated. Somehow, his pictures of the mundanity of war, scrubbing floors and making beds rather than fighting, makes it even more moving. It continues until January 26th and it is free, so there is no excuse not to visit if you are in London, especially as this year marks the centenary of the Great War.
I enjoyed Bronze and I found the Metamorphosis:Titian exhibition a bit disappointing, although I did enjoy the associated ballets. However, despite the rubbish weather, the big thing this year for me was sculpture in beautiful, outdoor settings: David Nash at Kew Gardens, the Garden of Reason at Ham House and this. There are some great pictures of some of the works here and Christie’s press release shows the thinking behind it. The juxtaposition of the modern art with the old was sometimes great, such as the Robert Indiana sculpture contrasting with three more traditional images of love:
They are both about death, both with skulls and other bits and pieces, but two very different exhibitions.
“Doctors”, etc., at the Museum of London gives a fascinating history of dissection in medicine (with lots of dissected bits of body) – excellent but it costs (£9 + suggested donation + online booking fee).
“Death” at the Wellcome Collection is more limited (one man’s personal collection of art related to the theme of death) and is not as good as previous more ambitious exhibitions such as “Dirt,” but it is free.
Both museums also have very good permanent, free exhibitions, both highly recommended.
I plan to review theatre/opera/ballet in and around London but also exhibitions, restaurants and anything else I think worth sharing. There are better reviewers out there so my reviews will be very short.
However, I will try to add useful bits and pieces that you never get in professional reviews, such as the comfort of the seats, the bar prices, how to find special offers or where to eat before the performance. Isn’t the Freedom Pass wonderful!