National Gallery

December 16, 2007 at 2:45 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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Writing this post seems to have taken almost as long as the walk around the UK’s National Gallery. First off I’d like to thank everyone for visiting despite the lack of any new content and will try and get through some of the backlog as quickly as possible.

And now onto the gallery.

Obviously if you like art (non-contemporary) then the national gallery is the place for you in London. Unless of course your preference is for portraits in which case right next door is the National Portrait Gallery. The national gallery is located at the top of Trafalgar Square looking down on Admiralty Arch and down towards the Palace of Westminster (Big Ben etc). At this time of year you’ll also find the city’s main Christmas Tree. Apparently this is an annual gift from Norway in thanks for the efforts of the British during World War II.

Entry is free although they do request a small donation (special exhibits may carry a charge). Upon entry, as with so many other places, you can purchase an audio guide, grab a map or just head straight in. Now, normally I’m all for an audio guide to explain things for me and hold my hand so to speak through the exhibit. After all I am lazy. While art generally poses an intellectual morass for me I held of on the guide so I could work on more efficiently getting through the sheer size of the galleries on offer.

And there certainly were a load of galleries which spanned medieval to turn of the century art. These are predominantly spread across the one level but there is also a relatively small and dull gallery underneath near the cafes and main bathrooms. What an endorsement!

The ancient works appear to be almost exclusively religious based – indicative of the funding and power structures of the era – although, honestly, boredom began rushing in after seeing Jesus and the Saints being religious and/or being killed/ born etc in a variety of forms. The capacity to rework the same theme in a myriad of ways is admirable and interesting and yet I will not deny once, twice or even thrice that I was over it sooner rather than later. Luckily the Renaissance came around and apparent complete obsession with this artwork was replaced by classical icons, portraits and stills.

As I progressed through the gallery it felt as though I was becoming more aware of the evolving use of colours, forms and materials but at the same time there were ‘older’ portraits which appeared less sophisticated than their predecessors. I have to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that this was a nostalgic piece and/or that I just don’t get it. Really either explanation works for me.

The greater diversity in subject matter opens up opportunities to both the artist and the viewer. In the latter’s case there are just more options to find a piece you’ll be engaged by. Personally I found myself favouring the city scenes, probably in reflecting the romanticism of city life I’ve associated to moving to the big(ger) city. Granted in this example the women are all going to be martyred…

Whether it’s sunflowers, horses, battleships, ancient godsportraits or Jesus there will be something to capture your eyes for at least a fleeting moment. If art isn’t your thing then the gallery may only be worthwhile on a rainy day but if you are an art lover then you’ll need to put aside three or four hours at a minimum.

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  1. […] Edinburgh – National Galleries of Scotland October 16, 2008 at 6:50 pm | In General, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Tags: Art, Edinburgh, Gallery, Scotland, Travel, UK This National Gallery is relatively small, positively tiny compared with its big brother in London. […]


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