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Published: September 6th 2006
Amphitheatre on the boundary between Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park.
I arrived to a grey drizzling London. Intially I had no idea of where I should head to but took a top deck bus and ended up in Victoria Station. Why I went there I dont really know, maybe I was guided by a hidden hand. But it seemed the right place to be, heaps of information about accomodation, tours, resturants and general London sites. Of course like most aussies I end up in a hostel in Earls Court. In an attempt to delay sleep until the London night I took a walk and ended up at Buckingham Palace. But as there was not much occurring I went back to the hostel and crashed into a deep sleep.
Next morning, I felt fine and walked to Westminster Abbey via Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. Park, it was more like a lawn than my idea of a park. On the periphery were trees, but they were lined in straight lines from every direction, like the trees in a pinus radiata plantation. A forest retreat for urban dwellers, I am not sure about that. On the border between the parks was a large rectangular ampitheatre with a stone fence at one end
and a pavilion on the other. On the amphitheatre ground is four fountains. It looks like a good spot to locate some of the scenes of a period drama. I liked some of the statues and stone reliefs I saw in the park. Westminister Abbey
the burial place of Kings, scientists and poets. A place where I spent most of the day, visiting Shakespeare, and Chaucer and Queen Elizabeth I and ....
Nelson's Column is located in Trafalgar Square. It faces down Whiteall to the Houses of Parliament, allowing Nelson to keep a watchful eye on the politicians. A busy square full of tourists it is also the location of the Library, or art gallery, were I spent most the afternoon immmersed in culture. Of course there were many religious and historical paintings. In one gallery a tour guide was giving a talk about two paintings which faced each other. Both were executiuons by beheading. One was Lady Jane Grey, crowned Queen for nine days after the death of Henty VIII, the other, John the Baptist. The former was painted with great realism almost like a coloured photograph, the latter looked empheral. The guide commented that the latter painting
was superior because the former pretended to be something that is wasn't. John the Baptist is on his knees, his figure is not solid. The executioners sword is held high, his body coiled like a spring. The image of John the Baptist is that of a person who has completely accepted his fate. Lady Jane's head, by contrast, is not quite on the block, her maids are looking in the other direction. The position of her body, the look on her beautiful face is of a person absolutely terrified. The face is beautiful because the painter wants us to have sympathy for this young woman, only 16, who has to die because of a power struggle taht have persisted with the monarchy for centuries. THis is a real historical event, documented, right down to the spot were it occurred in the Tower of London. The excution of John the Baptist is more in the realms of myth. When was he executed,where, by what method. Did he exist at all? I feel the unreal nature of the painting reflects this.
Some of Picasso's I can start to understand perhaps, seeing the original instead of an 8 x !0 copy.
In his portraits hie paints part of the face which exist in one plan in different places. Others he takes parts of the face and twists them in different directions, with eyes looking in different directions. What he is trying to say, I dont know. I can see why the impressionist were originally derided. Up close many of the paintings look like blobs of colour slapped onto the canvas. It is only when you step back and allow the effects of optical mixing that the blobs take form.
I was very impressed with the ascoutics of St Paul's catherdral. I could not go into the clove or the alter because a service was in progress. Th choir sang and the voices sounded like they were coming from the angels which were painted on the domed roof.
Would any trip to London be complete without a visit to the Tower of London.
Well I obviously didnt think so. Spent there on a very dull grey day. Didnt know that one has to be in the British army before you can become a yeoman.
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