My school goes on a lot of field trips to interesting places. In late March, our class visited St. Mary's Hospital near Paddington Station. We got real finger casts, which you could put on and pull off; and I used mine to fool my parents by pretending that I had broken my finger (it worked)! We also watched a video on accidents that can happen if you are not careful: burns, cuts, choking, car crashes and electric shock. Lastly, we learned CPR on a dummy and the "respiratory position." I learned a whole lot.
II. Watercolor at Late Tate
On the first Friday evening in April, we went to Late Tate Britain. Dad and I went to an exhibition called "Watercolour"on different artists' use of watercolor as a way of painting. In the first room, we saw some old books, one from 1200 CE! They had beautiful letters. The next room was full of detailed and colored plant and animal prints, which were part of old science books. The animals included an osprey (hawk), lion-haired macaw (monkey), blue grosbeak (perching bird), European grass snake, and the drinker moth caterpillar. There was also an engraved copper plate along with the print that was made from it, illustrating an exotic plant. Another watercolor I liked was a painting of a "spray" (bunch) of withered oak leaves, so very detailed, with a bright blue background. It was painted by John Ruskin, one of the most famous Victorians, my Dad explained. Also, there was a small painting of figs, all plump and green; and there was a funny painting covered with hundreds of beans and seeds, which Dad said must have been really hard to arrange. The last thing we saw was a book on hummingbirds, with pictures of the birds painted in.
|John Ruskin, Withered Oak Leaves (1879), Sheffield Museum: wow, can he paint!|
|Rachel Pedder-Smith, Bean Painting: Specimens from the Leguminosae family (2004): that's a whole lotta beans!|
The exhibition was so excellent that I didn't have a favorite painting; I loved every one!
|John Frederick Lewis, Hareem Life in Constantinople, 1857 (Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne)|
III: V & A Work Day
On the first Saturday of April, I rode on the back of Dad's bike, our favorite mode of travel—smart, environmental, and fun!—to the V & A, where we planned to work on our various projects. At the museum, I worked steadily on the different books that I am writing, which always keep me occupied; and we had a minced pie, chocolate biscuits, and a whole bunch of cups of peppermint tea! An hour and half before closing time, we went down to the galleries to see the "Cult of Beauty" show, which is a big new exhibition. It tells the story of how they thought about art in Britain during the period 1860-1900. The motto was "Art for Art's Sake": by this they meant art should just be for beauty and nothing else. There was a room that you could peek into, designed to look like (and with things from) the home of the famous painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti. After this, we went to see some things in the Japanese galleries. Dad explained that lacquer, an art practiced in China and Japan, is a kind of varnish they use to decorate wood, which can be painted red, green, or gold, but it is usually black. We also saw the most valued thing in the Japanese collection—and one of the most valuable thing in the whole museum—a lacquered chest with mother of pearl and gold, very rare, richly done, and owned by an important French man [Dad says: Cardinal Mazarin of France]. On the bike-ride home, we picked up some baklava (a Middle Eastern cake with nuts and lots of honey) for Mom, since it was British Mother's Day that Sunday—and this capped a lovely Saturday.
|The Mazarin Chest (ca. 1640), made from wood covered in black lacquer with gold and silver hiramakie and takamakie lacquer; inlaid with gold, silver and shibuichi alloy; and mother-of-pearl shell; with gilded copper fittings: Phew!|