I think I’m getting the hang of this London thing (she said, before she forgot to mind the gap and was consequently never heard from again). I made it to four museums and Borough Market today.
Sir John Soane’s museum is a lot of dark and twisty corridors in an old Victorian townhouse, and everywhere you look is crammed with art—paintings and stained glass and furniture and statues and porcelain and various weirdnesses of the building itself. I especially liked the cork models of the temples at Paestum, and Seti I’s sarcophagus in the basement. Also, the fact that they put little spiky plants on all the antique chairs so people don’t sit on them. Overall, it was fun because it was free, but I don’t think I would have paid money to get in.
The two museums I did have to pay for today were the Clink prison museum and the Old Operating Theatre. Tons of good information on being sick or imprisoned in ye olden tymes, which, if you were wondering, is not recommended. Everything sucked and then you died, possibly minus a limb or with the flesh sloughing off your bones.
Speaking of flesh! Borough Market is amazing. It’s this crazy mass of farmer’s market produce stands, artisan cheese and meat shops, and stalls and booths selling all kinds of other fancy food. Much samples. Many delicious. I had confit duck with white chocolate mashed potatoes for lunch. And a Pimm’s cup, naturally. I want to have a kitchen right around the corner from the market and just go back and forth between them forever. That sounds fulfilling, right?
Last I hit up the Tate Modern. It’s in the running for my favorite museum in London, definitely the best collection of modern art I’ve ever seen. I don’t even normally identify as a fan of modern art, and I was awed. The Dalis were gorgeous and haunting, and I found a new lady artist to adore—Dorothea Tanning. Twombly’s Bacchus is incredible. The paintings are huge, and I swear if you stand close enough you can actually feel the red emanating from the canvas.
I never understood Rothko. Now I get it a little, but I still don’t like him. Staring at his Seagram murals for any significant amount of time feels like falling forward into nothingness. There are layers and layers of careful subtlety, but they obscure so much I’m not sure there’s anything real at the core at all. Also, minimalists are terrible. They encapsulate every problem I’ve ever had with modern art. If you are going to make something that signifies nothing outside itself, and in fact actually resists attempts to interpret it, why ever show it to anyone? You’re just asking everyone to be impressed with how much better you are than them. We’re in a fight now.
Walking back to the place I’m staying tonight, I saw a fox run across the street. I’d never seen one in the wild before. It made the city feel like a forest, for a second.