Saturday, 13 November 2010


I've been to London this week on the 'let's send all the first years to experience London' trip.  It wasn't such a novelty for me, having grown up just outside London and worked there for a while too - but it's lovely to go back.  Unfortunately in these days of tuition fees and (late) student loans not many of the first years could afford to go, but those who did had a great time.  We stayed for 2 nights and personally I was totally exhausted at the end of each day.

So, I went to the British Museum, the V&A, the new Contemporary Ceramics Gallery, the Contemporary Applied Arts Gallery, Tate Modern, and had a mooch round the craft and design shops in the Oxo Tower.  And we managed to fit in side visits to Liberty and Anthropologie, plus a little time spent stroking all the lovely handmade papers in Paperchase.  My feet have just about recovered now!

The British Museum is one of those places - like the V&A - that I have been to quite a few times and never managed to explore fully.  This time I discovered the Assyrian relief panels - I loved the amount of detail in them and that once they had covered the slab with detailed pictures they quite often went on and wrote the story right over the top - creating a whole new layer of texture.

I was pleased to get to see Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern (click on the link to see far better photographs than I could ever take!).  I was sort of sad that we're not allowed to walk on it any more, but on the other hand I don't think it would have been  quite so impressive covered with people! The 100 million (yes, 100,000,000!) porcelain seeds are incredibly realistic, and have all been individually hand painted by workers in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen, where the people have traditionally worked in the porcelain industry.  There was a fascinating video showing the production of the seeds, how deftly they were painted - and how pleased the workers were to have the work, while not quite understanding why anyone would want so many painted seeds...  Well worth the visit.

I did allow myself just a little retail therapy... couldn't resist these sheets of handmade paper in Anthropologie...  I'm sure I can find something lovely to do with them!


  1. I can't believe you managed to fit so much London into just a few days. I always think I could go to a few places in one day and end up getting absorbed in the first place and run out of time!

  2. wow, that is a lot of sunflower seeds!!!!!!!


Helen Smith, artist and maker in glass, print and stitch.


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