Close Up 2: The Wallace Collection, Manchester Square, London

Today, dear blog readers, London was actually crammed with people. Tourists, mostly. It was not so fun.

Nevertheless, self summoned the necessary mojo to go exploring, and she found herself in another leafy square, confronting the great splendor of Hertford House, in Manchester Square.

And here are three photographs she took in the museum housed within, The Wallace Collection. She considers them suitable for the theme this week — CLOSE UP — because she had to go closer than she normally would, and left out the frames.

All three subjects are rather risqué, if the museum guide is to be believed. Especially the first one: Fragonard’s “The Swing.”

Fragonard's

Fragonard’s “The Swing” Originally, the lady was to have been pushed by a bishop. But this was evidently too much. So, instead, we have an elderly gent sitting on a stone balustrade, in the shadows behind.

But the lady is swathed in layers of clothes! Where, self wonders, is the provocativeness?

Next, a marble bust (Bad Pun?) of Marie-Louise Thérese-Victoire, daughter of Louis XV and aunt of Louis XVI, who was, according to the museum materials, “noted for her piety and appetite.” Rather an odd combination of words. When you look at this marble bust, and think that this lady must have been middle-aged when it was executed, well holy smoke, just look at that shelf she has!

Marble Bust of Maria-Louise Thérese-Victoire, Aunt of Louis XVI

Marble Bust of Maria-Louise Thérese-Victoire, Aunt of Louis XVI

Finally, a beautiful oil painting, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, of Margaret, Countess of Blessington (of which self has much to say, for this painting has a prominent place in the novel she is currently reading — no, not Clockwork Prince, the other one: Howard Jacobson’s wonderful and satirical The Act of Love, which is about an antiquarian book dealer who haunts Great Russell Street and museums.)

Margaret, Countess of Blessington, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Margaret, Countess of Blessington, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

More, later. Self is famished and needs to hunt up dinner.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Half and Half 3: London and Northern Ireland in High Summer

It is high summer in London. Streets awash with tourists. Self is walking around, trying to find pictures for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: HALF AND HALF (“This week, share an image that has two distinct halves”)

Incidentally, self was very inspired by this blog today, which has a very long name, in French.

Around Great Russell Street

In Front of the British Museum, Great Russell Street

Tea Life, Museum Street, London

Tea Life, Museum Street, London

And this is a picture she took when she was in Rostrevor:

Park Next to The Narnia Trail, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

Park Next to The Narnia Trail, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

DOORS 4: San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, Redwood City CA, Negros Museum Bacolod

This week’s Photo Challenge is proving quite tricky, for some reason. Self has to search a long time before she finds pictures of DOORS.

Well, here’s the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers Main Entrance:

Front Entrance, San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park

Front Entrance, San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park

Redwood City, California:

The Humble Abode, Redwood City, California

The Humble Abode, Redwood City, California

Front Entrance of the museum of Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

Negros Museum, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

Negros Museum, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Women in Heels

Self is short.

Short. Short. Short. Short.

Granted, short is not a disease.

Nevertheless.

On the question of heels. Last week, went to the Victoria & Albert Museum, lined up to pay 12 GBP to see exhibit on footwear called, if self remembers correctly: Shoes:  Pleasure & Pain.

Fabulous Chihuly: In the Lobby of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Fabulous Chihuly: In the Lobby of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

The torture aspect was, in self’s humble opinion, very de-emphasized. Self has seen more torturous shoes (including one fabulous pair with moss growing on the heels) in Greenwich Village in New York City.

And now to “Jurassic World,” which self has not seen, but which seems to have triggered some very strong audience reaction to Bryce Dallas Howard’s choice of footwear. It seems she keeps the heels on, throughout the movie.

Now, let self ponder this a moment.

Self has seen, in Italy, women running flat out for a bus in the highest, stiletto-heeled shoes imaginable. They look great. Also, super-powerful.

She has watched episodes of “Sex and the City” in which Sarah Jessica Parker, post-baby, runs flat out down a New York avenue in Jimmy Choos.

Let’s not forget Jodie Foster in Spike Lee’s Inside Man, the one where she plays an oh-so-smooth New York lawyer representing the Rich Bad Guy who profited from the theft of Jewish assets during World War II. Self thinks that if she had a lawyer who wore four-inch heels as confidently as Jodie Foster’s character does (and Jodie’s legs are the best legs self has seen on film since — since — the woman in Brian De Palma’s Dressed To Kill), she would rest easy in the conviction that she would win all her cases.

On the other hand, there is always an exception to the rule. Exhibit A: Paula Patton, who in the most memorable scene in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (one of the sequels, the one shot in Dubai), kicks off her heels, leaves on the powder-blue shift dress, and FIGHTS. Really FIGHTS. Afterwards, she sits chatting with her group, all men. She remains barefoot, but still wearing that fabulous dress. The only indication that she’s been IN a fight (because, ya know, she’s as cool as a cucumber. Or at least her character is. She has antagonists like Lea Seydoux for breakfast. Honestly) are her bare feet.

And now we arrive at Bryce Dallas Howard, who in side-note self must say is one of the most unusually interesting-looking actresses working today.  Because her character, Clare, never takes off her shoes, we are left to debate the fine points of female fashion choices. Self means: Is it rational to keep on the heels when one is being chased by a velociraptor?

Self can think of many reasons why Clare would choose to keep wearing her shoes: (1) Jungle floors are slimy; (2) She does not have hiking boots in her closet, or even in her desk drawer at work, or even under her desk in her office at work.

A guest post by Lesley Holmes on clothesonfilm makes the point: “I think the makers of Jurassic world believed that showing a woman capable of running in heels was the same as showing us a capable woman . . . ” Of course! This is a very old Hollywood trope, just about as old as the idea of the director auteur (born with Citizen Kane, which means — a long long time ago). If you want to know how powerful a woman character is, just look at what she’s wearing on her feet, for God’s sake!

Self would just like to say that while she was in line in the women’s restroom at the Gielgud Theatre, during the intermission for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, self engaged a young woman in conversation, and then expressed admiration for her shoes. They looked just like the Sam Edelmans self bought last year in California, but this woman’s shoes were flats. The young woman looked at self regretfully and said, “They’re super-painful. See?” She slipped her right foot out of her shoe and there, plain as day, was the beginning of a blister. Aaargh! The things self sees in women’s restrooms! Which is neither here nor there. But it brought home the lesson that flats are just as capable of giving a woman blisters as are Manolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos.

Self realizes that she herself has very little to say about the wearing of high heels, but in Hollywood, the woman who wears the highest heels is usually the most powerful woman on the block. She’s just saying.

Stay tuned.

Off-Season 5: South Bank, London

OFF-SEASON is still the theme for these photographs.

OFF-SEASON is partly nostalgic. A looking back.

It’s also a phase.

Her last fulll day in London, Joan McGavin took self walking all over the South Bank. Where Shakespeare’s Globe used to be is now a modern apartment building. Signs mark the location of the old Globe, however. It’s a parking lot, around the corner from the new Globe:

The Old Globe is a Parking Lot Adjacent to a Modern Apartment Building in London's South End.

The Old Globe is a Parking Lot Adjacent to a Modern Apartment Building in London’s South End.

Signs show the layout of the old theatre complex. Self likes to muse on the contrast with the current surroundings: cars, vans, box-like buildings.

Signs show the layout and orientation of the old Globe. Self didn't know about bear-baiting.

Signs show the layout and orientation of the old Globe. Self didn’t know about bear-baiting.

Part of our perambulations involved a visit to the Tate Modern Gallery of Art. The building is huge. It dwarfs everything alongside. The building used to house the Bankside Power Station.

The main entrance is cavernous. The lower level was practically empty, except for this greatly ambiguous piece. It felt unfinished but perhaps that was the point?

An Art Installation on the Lower Level of the Tate Modern on London's South Bank. Self doesn't know what it means.

An Art Installation on the Lower Level of the Tate Modern on London’s South Bank. Self doesn’t know what it means.

It’s “Off-Season” because it is so isolated and random, occurring in the middle of what evokes a warehouse setting.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

London After Hours, Great Russell Street: Off-Season 3

Self is finding “Off-Season” to be a very interesting Photo Challenge.

She isn’t sure that these series of shots she took last night are really “off-season” — except when viewed in one sense. But she’ll post anyway.

She took these pictures last night, when she was hunting for a cheap place to have dinner.  She was on Great Russell Street. The British Museum, and all the shops along that street, were closed. So she peered in through the iron gates and the barred windows:

The British Museum After Hours

The British Museum After Hours

A Closer Look Through the Barred Gates of the British Museum

A Closer Look Through the Barred Gates of the British Museum

Across the street is an Antiquarian Bookseller named Jarndyce (How very Dickens). When self peered through the barred windows, this caught her attention:

Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers, Directly Across from the British Museum

Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers, Directly Across from the British Museum

It was a Sunday evening. She happened to be reading (in addition to the ever-present Clockwork Prince, ha ha ha!) a copy of Dionne Brand’s poetry collection, Thirsty. And here is an excerpt from Poem II:

The city was empty, except for the three,
they seemed therefore poised, as when you are alone
anywhere all movement is arrested, light, dun,
except, their hearts, scintillant as darkness

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Off-Season 2: Dandelions at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Self loves London. Absolutely loves, loves, loves. If she were to spend her last farthing, she’d want to do it in this city.

It’s not the most beautiful (although there’s plenty of beauty around). It’s not even the most affable. It rains a lot. But it has a hold on her heart (all the more so now because — hello, Victorian Steampunk! The London Institute of the Clave! Shadowhunters! The Infernal Devices! Will Herondale!)

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is OFF-SEASON.

OFF-SEASON as in: Umbrellas in winter? Balaclavas in July?

The Hunger Games has been very much on self’s mind.

Why? Because yesterday, in Cambridge, friend Dodo told self that another former classmate had visited Cambridge, and she and Dodo had gone to the Harry Potter museum just outside London.

And self wondered when that much-ballyhooed Hunger Games theme park was ever going to open?

Anyhoo, today self went across London to the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was crowded, of course, but not off-putting.

Self decided to go see the WHAT IS LUXURY exhibit.

The exhibit includes a fabulous artwork made out of real dandelion seeds, embedded with LED lights to make a chandelier.

Self associates dandelions with The Hunger Games because of Peeta Mellark (one of her all-time favorite literary characters). Katniss, for those who are completely out of the zeitgeist, ends up with Peeta in the end because he is her “dandelion in the spring.”

And, hello, it is summer. Or, anyway, past the season for dandelions.

So here’s a shot of a fabulous chandelier at the Victoria and Albert:

At the Victoria and Albert Museum: Real dandelion seeds were harvested before opening into

At the Victoria and Albert Museum: Real dandelion seeds were harvested before opening into “clocks” and then were individually applied to LED lights to make this chandelier.

In keeping with the rather soggy weather, here’s the London Eye ferris wheel. Ferris wheels symbolize summer (at least they do for self), but because of London’s grey skies, the symbolism today (Self took this picture while meandering across the Waterloo Bridge) felt rather muted. So, here’s a most somber-looking ferris wheel:

The London Eye Viewed from Waterloo Bridge

The London Eye Viewed from Waterloo Bridge

Anyhoo, yesterday in Cambridge, it was rainy. Dodo took self on a punt ride on the river Cam. It was so wet that we had to bring umbrellas and hide under blankets. Self even had to buy a raincoat for the occasion. Here’s a shot of the inside of our punt. A great time was had by all:

Dodo (who lives in Cambridge) and Self in a Punt! On a Rainy Afternoon in Cambridge, UK.

Dodo (who lives in Cambridge) and Self in a Punt! On a Rainy Afternoon in Cambridge, UK.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Vivid 2: 28 Chinese Artists at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is VIVID.

To self, “vivid” is all about color. Or warmth. Or illumination.

Self spent yesterday afternoon at the Asian Art Museum (The traffic heading into San Francisco is just horrible, UGH) and saw many vivid pieces of art from the current show, “28 Chinese Artists From the Ruddell Family Collection” :

Tattoo 11, 1994 by Qiu Zhije (b. 1969, Fujian China)

Tattoo 11, 1994 by Qiu Zhijie (b. 1969, Fujian China)

“Darkness Illuminates Me” by Qiu Zhijie, 2009

The artist Zhang Huan covered his body with honey and oil and sat in a public toilet (Size: 12 square meters) and waited for the flies to land, then had someone take his picture:

“12 Square Meters” by Zhang Huan (b. 1965, Henan, China)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

On the Way 5: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

The Trans-Canada National Highway, Banff: May 2015

The Trans-Canada National Highway, Banff: May 2015

On the Road to Banff with Mike and Pixie: late April 2015

On the Road to Banff with Mike and Pixie: late April 2015

Just Outside the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum, Alberta: late April 2015

Just Outside the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum, Alberta: late April 2015

Broken: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is BROKEN:

  • Capture something broken:  broken windows and tools, an old window, a toy never fixed, and so on.

Each of the pictures below depicts something “broken” — whether it’s Anthony Burgess’s disturbing novel of social dysfunction in an England of the future ruled by thugs, A Clockwork Orange (the book was in a visual art exhibit at the Walter Phillips Gallery here in Banff), a preserved dinosaur head, or an installation representing America’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan:

Anthony Burgess's CLOCKWORK ANGEL

Anthony Burgess’s CLOCKWORK ANGEL — Ooops! Self means A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Self’s got too much Infernal Devices on the brain, dear blog readers!

Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum at Drumheller, Alberta

Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum at Drumheller, Alberta

Harriet Bart, American:

Harriet Bart: “Enduring Afghanistan” – map of Afghanistan rendered in dog tags, at the Walker Art Museum, Minneapolis

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,839 other followers