Art, Life in London
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Saris, Divas and a whole lotta art

Every now and then we try to do a weekend packed full with various art-y culture-y things.

But it’s been a while since the last one!

Last week, I started thinking about how busy things have been, and realised that since the start of April, I’ve been in London, and without guests visiting, for a total of only 12 weekends. Most of those have spent preparing for the next thing, or desperately trying to get some sort of clean into my house.

But every now and then, we just get a perfect London Weekend.

Anyway, back in July, after trips to the Peak district and Berlin, we paused for long enough to spend a week in London. And packed some things into our weekend.

Parenthetically, the week started with a new musical, hosted at Sameer’s beloved Barbican:

A Stange Loop is about a gay, fat, black writer who is hates his job and is writing a musical about a gay, fat, black writer, while working out his identity in the context of his family, his religion, and all the awful biases of thew world.

I thought the story was nicely told- and enjoyed the ‘reveal’ part of the relationship with the mother (no spoilers here). I do agree with my friend Nina though, that the overall thing missed a huge standout number- the songs were nice enough, but none of them wormed their way into my head.

We managed to pick the night of the show with a discussion panel of the main players after, so got the added bonus of hearing what the musical meant to them – people who largely felt represented by A Strange Loop.

And then most of the rest week was pretty tame, until Saturday.

We started with breakfast at Dishoom- the famous ‘good Indian’ chain in London, and ate some slightly-heavy-but-very-delicious food.

This of course, was all a part of the plan to align our stomachs with our eyes and hearts (???), as we set off to see the first of the exhibits:

Hosted by our favourite- the Design Museum- The Offbeat Sari, aimed to bring forward contemporary but also ‘out there’ saris.

It was nice to see Sameer’s excitement at the different pieces, and generally great to see more non-western cotour under the spotlight.

The headlining piece was this:

… which yes, obviously I will take two of (one in gold and one in silver).

I appreciate that it is both dramatic, and dangerous. I would wear it on the subway or in the presence of people who think it is appropriate to get to much into my personal space.

I really appreciated the overall design of the exhibit- the museum has a cool way of seeing up spaces, and the addition of small postcards and signs around really added a lot.

It was also clear that the exhibit has stories to tell- it’s probably not a surprise that the head curator is alo a writer.

These Saris are associated with protest:

The left one is linked to saving wetland birds, while the pink one is part of a ‘Gulabi (pink) Gang’, opposing domestic violence in the country’s north.

Sameer’s favourites were the sportier ones- I think he particularly loved the rock-climbing one:

I personally really enjoyed getting my face nice and close to the beautiful details (and obnoxiously declaring constantly ‘oh yes, this one is real silk’ to Sameer), and really appreciated the section focused more on the ‘making’ side of things.

(Although I wanted it to be more).

This piece is the answer to a ‘can we use actual metal threads to make a flowing fabric’?

And again, the answer is of course ‘yes I will take one thank you’.

(although it does seem slightly awkward to wear, and I imagine rather cold in London winters)

I also highly covet this:

… while this

…makes me think I need to get more into block printing.

All up, it was a pretty cool exhibit!

We took a quick look in the shop (covet covet covet)

… and then zoomed off to the V&A

Sameer was a bit in Mission Mode, but still let me stop off in front of my two favourite things in the place

  1. Tipoo’s tiger
  2. This amazing coat

Our quest for the afternoon was to visit the Divas exhibit, which included a breathtaking range of outfits from various performers throughout time.

It was STUNNING, and I regretted not knowing more about the different players and their characters, to better appreciate the incredible items we were seeing.

Sarah Bernhardt (and I’m not sure who the left hand side one is?)

Josephine Baker:

Clara Bow and Mary Pickford:



Vivien Leigh and Liz Taylor:

Joan Sutherland:

and so on.

The exhibit was set out in a roughly chronological order, and upstairs, things took a swing for the more modern:

Unfortunately, we did notice that this exhibit didn’t have a lot of non-western culture represented.

Mostly it was this one small wall:

Which feels like a missed opportunity.

Otherwise though, there was a lot of cool stuff.

I particularly liked the Janelle Monae Pantgina

as well as the Bjorchid collection:

But also have to say that I just enjoyed the larger scale DRAMA of it all!

Later that evening, we watched the Barbie movie (I enjoyed the fact that everyone in the city was dressed in Barbie Pink), and ate some noodles!

And then on Sunday, it was time for some more Art!

In the form of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

This is pretty much a must see if you are in London over the Summer. It features an ENORMOUS amount of art, and a lot of it is affordable and buyable. Although, if you are looking to purchase, you need to go early.

I like that there’s a chaos of options, but that it’s kind of organised into themed rooms.

Some Monotone for you:

^^pretty sure those are just ecosystem/ gene networks

Some structures and buildings:

Some flowers:

Some Portraits:

A couple of the showstoppers this year were:

The massive blue hanging thing that took up a whole room:

The fascinatingly creepy rat-penis-bug vases:

Dead cat and rolling horse:

The Styrofoam box made out of metal that everyone wanted to touch:

And of course, empty bear:

A few more cool things:

By the time we’d finished gorging on art, it was (unsurprisingly) raining outside. Ready to gorge on something a bit meatier, we dashed through the rain towards Sameer’s first ever Iranian meal.

Food that always and forever makes me think of Iman and Nafis.

And that’s about it from the weekend of pretty things.

The week of the 24th of July

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