Weekend in the Capital {Barbara Hepworth and a New Hat}

For my birthday a few weeks ago my mother-in-law (still feels a bit odd calling her that) paid for a hotel for the night so we could finally go and see the Barbara Hepworth:Sculpture for a Modern World exhibition at the Tate Britain that I've been desperate to get to since well before the wedding. We were beginning to run out of time, and realised there were only two weeks of the show left, so last weekend D and I trundled off to London for a couple of days. 

We decided to play at being tourists, and rather than catching the tube all the way, we came up for air at Oxford Circus then walked the rest of the way...conveniently right past Anthropologie...

I do love it, it's like the inside of my brain has gone bang (after previously winning the lottery) and beautifully spewed its contents all over a three story shop. I didn't buy anything, but I took a picture of this pretty little ring dish so I'd remember to go back and get it later, and promptly forgot all about it...maybe Father Christmas will bring me one?

We carried on, stopping for a while in St James' Park. I ran off like a true tourist to take a picture of this rather dapper looking heron, and got a bit over excited about the squash growing outside the gardeners cottage (and a second heron on the roof...look closely!) I'm always amazed to see actual wildlife in the middle of the city, and being less than a couple of hours away means I've definitely taken for granted how amazing London really is.

I was again reminded of this once we reached the gallery. I think the last time I went I was at college, and I really didn't pay much attention to the gallery itself...it's a really beautiful building (crappy iPhone photos aside), I particularly love the leaded windows.

I have loved Barbara Hepworth since I discovered her work at school, and in terms of the variety of works, this show didn't disappoint. It moved chronologically through the various phases of her work, starting with small carvings displayed alongside works of other artists doing similar things, Henry More, Jacon Epstein, and various others. Then a room dedicated to Hepworth's artistic relationship with Ben Nichlolson. There were also several drawings which have rarely been seen before, and the show ended with a semi-reconstruction of the Dutch Pavilion at the 1950 Venice Biennale. 

The show hasn't been review well at all, many reflecting that the placing of glass boxes around the work strips them of their tactile quality, and that boxing these works that are so inherently attached to the natural world is making them feel suffocated, lifeless and even suggesting that they are in effect being boxed aways as part of history, no longer connected with us in the present.

Its true, I didn't get the same feeling here as I have had around Hepworth's work in the past. I felt a little stifled, and I really wasn't happy with some of the display methods, I find visible fixings abhorrent and some of the exhibition rooms had coloured walls and no natural light which isn't the ideal way to view any sculpture as far as I'm concerned. One of the pieces was trapped within a case alongside what appeared to be a thermometer, necessary I'm sure, but completely distracting. It wasn't until the last couple of rooms, where there was natural light, white walls, and large scale pieces that I got that 'I love this so much I could cry' (and I did) feeling that I'm used to. There was a Dad talking animately to his son about the work, and the boy was excitedly looking through the holes and coming up with suggestions as to what he thought it looked like. The pieces had space around them, and you could get close enough to really feel them.  

However, I'm still thoroughly glad we went, and I really enjoyed the show. It has concreted what I love about Hepworth's work; it's unquestionable relationship to the sea, the air, the clifftops and the rugged landscape of our coast. There was an 1953 BFI film playing, 'Figures in a Landscape - Cornwall and the Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth' and it was this that got me, these words that pulled at that part of my stomach that makes me want to scream and run about and make sure everyone near me 'gets it' and feels it like I do (which of course they don't...each to their own and all that) I watched it with tears in my eyes because I just love it, the perfect description of Cornwall's coast, the calm optimism, yet incredible power of the sea, and the way the elements continue to the change the landscape. Hepworth's works convey exactly what I feel about the coast better than words every could. My favourite quote, is again about the power of nature. Even after the Pagans, the Christian's and the Miner's came and made their marks on the landscape, in time these stones, buildings and monuments became ruins...

"The seasons and the centuries claimed them for the landscape"

No pictures unfortunately, but you can watch the full film here if you'd like to (please please do!)

After I'd calmed down a little, we went for a little stroll round Angel. I found a beautiful old oil painting of the sea but we left it behind and I think I may regret it for a long while. We also saw a girl getting very told off by a stall holder for trying on a hideous beaded headdress - 'Dahhhling please would you remove that from your head, it's four thousand pounds.' We highly doubted it was really worth that much money as it was being sold on an antique stall outside, but she took it off pretty sharpish! 

We went to Wahaca for dinner, and apart from the waiter crossing out most of the menu after I asked him to show me the things that had coriander in them (ick), it was amazing! I see a lot more Mexican in our future!  

We also had our first experience of proper tequila! So good, though I did have to google how to drink it! I was a bit confused when I got two glasses...do I mix them, drink one then the other, down one and sip the other? It turns out the red one on the left is 'sangrita' or 'little blood', and is a mixture of fruit juice and spices. You're supposed to sip it after each sip of tequila to compliment it! It was lovely, and I love the little hand blown glasses! 

On Sunday we started off in Spitalfields for breakfast (at Leon, obviously!) 

Maybe even better than crying at Barbara Hepworth, is the fact that I finally found a hat that fits on my head!! I've been looking for a winter version of my favourite summer fedora (which incidentally is from the mens section) but my head is unusually big and they all just perch on top, until now! I love it and will be wearing it at every opportunity! Only £25 too...love love love Spitalfields! 

We hadn't really decided what to do for the rest of the day, and neither of us were in the mood for shopping (controversially!) so we headed to the Natural History Museum. Why have I never been here before!? It's actually like walking into Hogwarts...if Hogwarts was real and full of dinosaurs! 

Seriously amazing building! My favourite things were not the dinosaurs, or this giant escalator that takes you up through a planet. I was fascinated by these diamonds. The Aurora Collection Pyramid of Hope features 296 rare naturally coloured diamonds, the most comprehensive range of colours anywhere! It totals nearly 300 carats, and is obviously worth millions! 

What fascinated me most was the way the change under ultraviolet light...so pretty! 

We're actually off to London again this evening, to see Dynamo at the Hammersmith Apollo which is rather exciting! Going out on a Sunday...who'd have thought it! 

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