I love London, love it, love it, love it!! So many museums, countless art galleries, lots of hidden, undiscovered places, so much creativity- there’s a buzz everywhere you go! Right when I got off at South Kensington tube station and I was passing through the subway, I could hear a person busking on a guitar, what a beautiful, soothing melody! When I got closer, he was playing this tune for a mum and her baby in the pram and the child was listening to it intently! What a beautiful sight, got a smile on my face! I knew it then it was going to be a lovely day! 🙂
Right, so today I thought I shall visit the Victoria and Albert Museum, I worked on paintings two days and decided I will do a visit to an arty place for inspiration and what better than than the V&A, the world’s largest art and design museum. I knew I wouldn’t be able to cover the full museum so got hold of a map at the entrance and decided to see Level 1 thoroughly… bloody tiring I tell you but loved all of it!
The Asian section particularly interested me for obvious reasons(!!) so started with South Asia; beautiful textiles, out of this world jewellery dating the Mughal period (I LOVE THE MUGHAL STYLE OF JEWELLERY!!!), miniature paintings from Company artists (paintings done by the native artists for the British regime, when India was ruled by the East India Company), miniatures showing Sikh soldiers (Maharaja Ranjit Singh with his chief minister’s son, Hira Singh), one work showing a prince trying to woo his angry lover (glad to know some men in those days took the effort to win the hearts of their women and were romantic enough!). There were Jain manuscripts on display and the influence of their architecture and art in the Mughal paintings/buildings in the beginning of the Mughal rule since they employed local artists. There were some art students and art lovers as well sitting infront of the miniature paintings trying to draw a part of the paintings… a chair of their own, a set of pencils and a skecth book, that’s all one needs; can’t be bothered with who is around or who is watching! (I used to do it too in the Chandigarh museum when I was back from Bombay on holidays!). There were intricate ivory furniture with beautiful carvings and motifs. There was also a timeline showing events in India and in Britain side by side, one thing that struck me: when the Portuguese surrendered Bombay to the British, the Great Plague struck London…. hmmm!!!
Later went to the Islamic Middle East section- first thing that came to mind was the grandeur! Huge carpets, pieces of silk with beautiful motifs, iznik tiles from Turkey, vases and jugs with beautiful precious stones and intricate work! The imagery on the astronomical instruments, perfect geometric patterns and the most striking calligraphy! Pieces from Persia, Turkey, Syria, Egypt… the sermon stand from a museum in Cairo (if I remember correctly), oh what beautiful carving on the wood! I looked at it all and I thought so much art and creativity came from this side of the world and look what has happened now! I agree with all the revolutions and the uprisings that have taken place and are taking place in the Arab world, down with dictatorship and I’m all for secularism and democracy. I would love to see art flourish on a larger scale from the middle east, paint what you want, keep your minds open and be true to your art; not get bogged down by ridiculous rules and conventions. You can be an artist and muslim at the same time: I am! I don’t need to justify myself to please others… so all artists out there from any part of the world, paint for yourself, express your feelings, keep an open mind, love and embrace eveything you stand for and the art will come out naturally!
Coming back to the tangent (!), I must say the art of Japan interested me more than China’s but then that’s my viewpoint. I loved all the minute details to the furniture- the chest of drawers, chairs, the tables: what patience, wow! The clothes, the men’s hats… the ‘netsuke’, small sculptures to attach containers to the kimonos (robes). Because these robes did not have pockets and people needed to store their personal belongings like money, tobacco etc., these ‘netsukes’ were invented. So one places their things in a container and hangs it with the cords on the robe, these containers were small boxes or pouches (which I saw were beautiful too!). Wikipedia says,“The fastener that secured the cord at the top of the sash was a carved, button-like toggle called a netsuke.” Hope I managed to explain it well! 😉 Another thng that struck me were the swords, the artwork on them, brilliant- reminded me of the Hattori Hanzo swords from ‘Kill Bill’, hehe.
Talking about another section of the floor, the Medieval and Renaissance galleries: personally I love the Renaissance period but after the beauty and intricacy of the Asian section, this great art period felt a little bland. Maybe I was tired after all the time spent in the previous sections. Nevertheless, sat and observed the beautiful marble sculptures, the frescoes, the stained glass painting depicting a nativity scene. A panel of Margaret the Virgin, was on display. Some consider her to be the patron saint of pregnancy- her life depicted in 16 panels, from her birth to the time when she was cruelly tortured for her Christian beliefs! Religion, religion, religion: why can’t people just practice what they believe in? Let people believe in what they want to, let them wear what they want to, let them worship whomever they want to! What makes people intersting are their differences, imagine if we all were the same, how boring would life be!! Different cultures, religions, clothes, food, languages, rituals: that’s the beauty of human kind! Yes, I dream of a perfect slightly imperfect world- dream on!
I’m back home and tired, had a nice cuppa. Didn’t have the strength to read my book on the journey back home. Saw this cute baby and her mum in the tube, she must have been less than a year old and she was playing with her mother’s mobile, flipping it about, trying to figure it out- haha- what can I say? Kids eh, the competition out there starts early! 😉