Westminster Abbey is this immaculate building that captures you when you stand in front of it. It stands as a symbol of Henry VII and his incredible influences on the country and the church. The history of Westminster Abbey is extensive. I could take an entire class dedicated to this subject alone. The church was built and added onto for years. The history of the architecture is important to the abbey’s creation.
The abbey was built in the middle of the English Gothic era. Some say it is a perfect example of this era. The English Gothic area lasted over 400 years. Westminster Abbey continuously grew and changed during this time. Westminster Abbey is one of England’s largest examples of English Gothic architecture. Henry III started building the Abbey in 1245. He was especially fond of Saint Edward the Confessor and built the Abbey as a shrine to him.
Westminster Abbey’s largest distinguishing feature as English gothic is the pointed arches. This is a key gothic feature. The elaborate details in the arches is another important detail. The abbey is extremely detailed and elaborate. Additionally, the Abbey has many lancet windows, which are thin, narrow windows that line the Abbey’s nave. The nave is the main area or middle of the church.
Overall, Westminster Abbey is this massive church that not only illustrates the English Gothic architecture era of its time, but the influence of the church in England.
Today we looked at Kate Edith Gough’s photo collages. These pieces really triggered something. I have books and books filled with magazine collages. My mom has the same books from her childhood.
What I found so fascinating about Gough is that she is working with watercolor and photography in the mid-1800s. I doubt she had the luxury of an endless supply of Elmer’s glue like I had. Gough liked to put human heads on animal bodies. She created these fantasy scenes and as you can see, they are extremely creative. I wanted to share these works with you. Let me know what your thoughts are.
The Tate Modern had so much space. We’ve been emphasizing space a lot in class with our readings of Jane Austen’s Persuasion and China Mieville’s The City and The City, so I probably was still thinking a lot about space when I entered the Tate. However, the Tate Modern did have a lot of open space. When our group needed to crowd around our teacher, Megan, to hear her explain a piece of art, we were not in other visitors’ way. Unlike at the National Gallery where I always felt like our mob was taking over a space of the museum. The Tate Modern was extremely different than the other museums we’ve visited while in London. Both the interior and the exterior of the Tate Modern were different than the Tate Britain, Victoria and Albert, National Gallery, and British Museum. These buildings were old and detailed in their exterior architectural make-up. The Tate Modern was a factory of some-sort in the late 1900s. Now with some glass enclosing added, the Tate houses modern artwork ranging from large two-story structures, which made no sense to me, to famous Picasso pieces.
The first floor of the building was a large open space, which typically houses a sculptural exhibit, but it was not there this time of year. The higher floors looked much more like a traditional museum that I’ve been to, yet it had a very modern flare. The walls were decorated with a Modern Art timeline that displayed art eras and famous artist. The names looked like they were handwritten. I really liked how the art was displayed in the space. It was clean and simple. The walls were white and the art was easy to look at.
Again, we viewed some works that we went over in class. I feel extremely lucky to have first-hand observations with the pieces we go over in class. I bet many art history majors would love to take this class.
I enjoyed a work by Robert Rauschenberg. So much so that I bought a postcard: my first Museum purchase. This piece was a large canvas where Rauschenberg used silkscreen images with oil and acrylic paint. The picture below is one I snapped at the Tate Modern; this picture does not capture the texture or real uniqueness of the piece. I liked the mixing of materials and textures. This made me want to take a silkscreen class and start some arts and crafts right then and there.
I visited Salisbury Cathedral today. Other than it being filled with flowers and old people, it was a beautiful cathedral. Point of information: It was the bi-annual flower festival in Salisbury this week. I never thought of it before, but old people love flowers and they love cathedrals, so no question that there’s be hundreds of white-haired old people crowding the cathedral today.
We have been learning about architecture in class this week, so seeing the cathedral in person today was awesome. Megan and I stood in the middle of cathedral, which by the way is called the nave and pointed out the architectural elements. It was really nerdy fun.
The Salisbury Cathedral is a great example of English gothic. Its first indicator of gothic characteristics is its pointed archways. The Romans had curved archways, but the gothic period brought about these pointed archways that elongate the height of the cathedral. The pointed arch points your eye further up towards to ceiling; whereas, the Roman arched arches bring the eye up and back down. Although the pointed archways pull attention to the height of the ceiling, it is the lines in the architecture that put an emphasis on horizontal space. The arcade is the area where all the pillars and archways are. The arcade in Salisbury has a lot of layering and details on the pillars. There is a lot of depth and layers unlike the Roman cathedrals which were more plan and blocky. I doubt blocky is a good vocab word, but I’m going with it. Originally the Salisbury Cathedral did not have flying buttresses, which help hold up the nave. The cathedral didn’t need it because the nave was not as tall. Above the Arcade is what they call the gallery. In this cathedral, one can go into the gallery. It is the space directly above the top of the archways. The materials used in this church also tell you it is of the English gothic period. They used different types of material and limestone to add color. I wouldn’t necessarily call it color, but I do see the differences in color. The limestone was treated in something to make it look like marble, but don’t be fooled, it is limestone.
Like I mentioned before, one of my favorite things about this study abroad program is that we learn about something and then experience it first-hand. This was true today. I was able to critically think about the Cathedral and its elements rather than think, “Oh that’s pretty and neat.” It was hard to analysis the affects of the architect with all the distractions of flowers. Also, there were so many old people you had to watch your every step. Image one hundred Carls from Up walking around looking up at flowers and stained glass and that is what Salisbury Cathedral was like today – except less adventurous and no balloons.
Like I said, I loved the Imperial War Museum. Last fall I took a history course entitled War and Propaganda. Although I did not enjoy the class at the time, it neat to apply some of the things I learned from there to the exhibits here. For this reason, I particularly enjoyed both the Winston Churchill War Rooms and Imperial War Museums.
At the Imperial War Museum they say, “war shapes lives.” This has been especially true here in London. As we walk around the city, buildings are hundreds and hundreds years old. Yet, there are some new buildings that peek around corners and slip beside historic sites. This is not because London decided to tear down the old to bring in the new. No, it is because of London bombings. If a building is bombed, London is forced to build a new building. Thus, a new building is a sign of bombings. There are everyday reminders of war. War was extremely prevalent here.
Last week, we explored the underground tunnels and rooms of Winston Churchill. He and his men met in these war rooms during times of chaos and bombings. Proximity plays a key part in London’s involvement in war. During WWII Germans were only miles away, unlike America who had the oceans to set us apart.
During this time, citizens and military alike had to do something to help. In this time of need, there were many posters used to encourage participation. One of the most famous signs, shown below, states, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” At the time when bombings were most common, many did not know what to do or think. The PM wanted everyone to do exactly that – Keep calm and carry on with their business.
Here are two of my favorite signs I saw for the first time in the War Rooms. They show how important it is to keep quiet about information. One sign seems to be talking to elderly ladies or a more common crowd while the other one depicts a beautiful woman being persuaded by the enemy to talk. Although the signs are talking to two different audiences, it is sending the same message: Keep Quiet.
It is interesting to think that just simple talk on the streets or in a hotel lobby could mean disaster for an entire nation. These signs do a good job encouraging a sense of community and unification of a nation. They tell the average Joe that their efforts matter.
For my art class, I had to analysis a piece of artwork. I chose a painting in the Victoria and Albert Museum. This is my first time writing something like this, so enjoy.
Richard Redgrave’s Cinderella About to Try on the Glass Slipper
Redgrave painted Cinderella About to Try on the Glass Slipper in 1842. The painting was first exhibited with a quotation from Cinderella that said, “That minx, said the step-sister, to think of trying on the slipper,” according to the sign at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The sign also indicated that the costume and furnishings are in a mixture of styles, ranging from the 16th century to the 1840’s.
In Cinderella About to Try on the Glass Slipper, Richard Redgrave captures the moment before Cinderella tries on the glass slipper. The main characters in the story are depicted in the foreground and middleground of the picture. Cinderella holds the Prince’s hand while all others look on. The stepsisters are looking longingly with Cinderella’s stepmother leaning behind them. Redgrave adds to the suspense by adding the other subject into the painting.
The window or the view outside is the background. The view outside includes a line of houses and greenery. It is bright and colorful outside, which allows a lot of light into the room. The light blue sky and cream houses brightens the painting without taking away from the action in the painting. The greenery outside the window adds color and dimension to the view of outside.
The window, doorway and hallway create a three-dimensional space. The placement of the people emphasizes the space in the room. The people are stacked in a way of importance. The Prince, Cinderella and her stepsister are in foreground while others are in the middleground with the young boy is in front. The slipper is placed at the foot of a red and gold chair upon a dark pillow. The color used is significant. Also, the slipper is the object in front of everything. The space around the slipper calls attention to its importance and draws the eye back to the slipper. The young boy is pointing straight at the slipper while looking at Cinderella, which also adds to the importance of the slipper and this moment. Placement is significant in this painting as well as the attention to detail.
The rule of thirds is used in this painting. Cinderella’s face is placed in one of the thirds of the painting. The slipper is nearly in the middle of the painting. The placement of these objects helps bring attention to these objects, yet it is the details that capture the viewer.
Regrave’s use of detail in the faces adds to the emotion of this moment. It is their facial expressions that bring attention to the slipper. Everyone is looking at Cinderella or the slipper. As you look closer, the subjects’ facial expressions say more about the moment. The stepsisters look extremely uncomfortable with jealousy in their faces. The stepsisters are staring right at Cinderella. The stepmother is behind them glaring with disgust. One stepsister is even reaching for her own shoe. Even the women standing behind Cinderella to the right is looking longingly at her own foot. Another girl to the right is smiling and eagerly watching Cinderella and the Prince. The suspense of this moment is obvious through the subjects’ facial expressions and postures. Along with detailed faces, Redgrave uses color and light to bring the eye to the key aspects of the painting.
Redgrave uses light and color to emphasize certain aspects of the painting. Shadows dim the corner areas of the room and less important aspects of the painting. Light is hitting Cinderella and the stepsisters more intensely than the other subjects. Redgrave painted the clothing very bright, which adds color to the painting. He used a lot of reds, greens and yellow, which are primary colors. The painting feels warm and welcoming and is pleasing to the eye.
Redgrave painted most all the clothing with bright primary colors, it is Cinderella’s yellow dress that brings the viewers eye immediately to her and up to her face. She is looking longingly at the slipper while others look at her. The dark wooden walls help bring the viewer’s attention to the people in the room. The man holding the pillow, where the slipper was held, is more in the shadows than the others. He must be one of the Prince’s men. Redgrave used shadows and light purposefully, but also paid attention to detail in his technique.
When you look at the painting up close in the Victoria and Albert Museum, you can see the cracks in the paint as the painting has aged. Redgrave used oil on canvas for this painting. The brushstrokes are not visible; they are very even. The subjects in the painting are very defined. Redgrave added a lot of texture to the clothing. Cinderella’s dress is very detailed and quilted at the bottom. The stepmother and stepsisters are wearing jewelry and much more extravagant dresses than Cinderella, yet it is Cinderella’s simple beauty that captures the viewers attention.
Lastly, Redgrave successfully depicts this moment with his use of color, light and by paying attention to detail. His use of light and color allow the viewer to engage in the painting easily. It is the subjects’ facial expressions that add meaning to the painting depiction of this suspenseful moment. Without Redgrave’s attention to detail, color and light, this picture would lack its obvious suspense and intrigue.
Went to the V&A today. I didn’t like it. However, I first should explain that it was type English weather today. Meaning I showed up to the museum sopping wet and miserable. The best two things I packed for this trip were my rainboots and rainjacket – two things I bought specifically for this trip. Thank goodness.
Now I will try and characterize the nature of this museum’s collection without a biased, crabby opinion. First when you walk into this massive building, there is a line to buy tickets. “This is odd,” I thought, considering there is a large sign with the words, “Free admission,” just outside the door. In fine print, I’m sure, it must be written that while the museum is free, the cool stuff that’s advertised in the tube stations and billboards are not. The Cult of Beauty Exhibit and the fashion exhibit cost extra. I was really disappointed. I wanted to see these exhibits, but I wasn’t about to spend ten pounds in doing so. I think these should have been free. This is a perfect example of how I felt the V&A was set up. They charged admission for the exhibits that were most important, and they separated the exhibits into categories. For example, there was a modern jewelry exhibit and a sculptures exhibit.
Everything was so spread out and separated. I’d walk into a room thinking it would lead to another room or exhibit just to find myself having to leave the same way I came in. There was no real flow in this museum’s setup. I did not like my time spent there. If this museum has a role as a teaching institution, they did not achieve their goals. There was little information about each object. The jewelry exhibit was neat and had funky lighting, but it was hard to read the information. I felt like the museum could improve their setup and informational signs.
The Watercolor Exhibit was really beautiful. The paintings were displayed evenly along the walls in a very orderly fashion. It was very easy to move from one piece to the next. The art was arranged at eye-level, which made it pleasant to view. The rooms connected to one another, which helped create a sense of flow as you viewed the art, unlike the Victoria and Albert. There was often a display in the middle of the room at the Watercolor exhibit. This allowed for less wasted space in the museum. The idea of watercolor seemed elementary before viewing this exhibit. Now, I might dare to say that it has been some of the most beautiful art I’ve seen since coming to London.
Megan showed us this concept of engraving. It was where an artist would carefully etch a picture into a cooper plate and then place ink inside the groves. Then they would press a sheet of paper over the plate using a pressing machine. This process seemed so tedious, and the product was a beautiful arrangement.
This art displayed needed a lot less explaining than other pieces we’ve seen in other museums. Often time, the watercolor paintings were of landscape. The art was simple and beautiful. I really enjoyed looking at the Watercolor exhibit.
The British Library has been my favorite museum I’ve visiting in London thus far. The medieval manuscripts were amazing to see up close. Looking at a slide show of some old books is not the same as viewing them first-hand. I could see the ink marks and texture of the paper. My favorite thing I saw was the Gutenberg Bible. As a journalism major, I have been tested over who invented the printing press. Johann Gutenberg was the first to use a printing press. The Gutenberg Bible is a complete version of the Bible. There were 180 copies made and there are only four complete copies left. I heard it is the most expensive book in the world. It was incredibly beautiful and breathtaking. The printing press has changed the world immensely. I don’t know if journalism would be around without it. Before we went to the library, we learned about how manuscripts were made back then and how they hand-wrote everything. Not only did they have to hand-make the paper, but had to hand-write every page. Then they added artwork to every page, too. In class we talked about the Lindisfarne Gospels, which looked amazing in the slides that Megan showed us. Unfortunately, the page that was displayed wasn’t as impressive as I thought it would be. The Magna Carta was also on display. That was incredible. I also saw some of the Beatles notes for some of their famous songs. He wrote one on the back of his son’s birthday card. It was really cool to see. Most everything was really cool to see. I liked the old manuscripts a lot. It is amazing that humans have been recording stories for thousands of years and that we still read those same stories today.
Here’s an amazing picture of the Gutenberg bible. It was so dark in there that I wasn’t able to get a picture, but here’s someone else’s picture via google.
We visited Oxford today. Angie was our tour guide again. She is so incredibly knowledgeable. I loved Oxford.
It was an incredible college town because it was nothing like any of the college towns I’ve seen before. The town in so incredibly old. Older than anything I can remember seeing. There is a lot of arguments over when the University of Oxford was established and what college is the oldest or longest running. I cannot explain the English school system in a short paragraph. But in short, the University of Oxford is made up of multiple colleges, which are separate buildings and so on. For example, we met Jay, a KU and BSI alum from Salina, I may add. I could write a whole entry just about Jay and how cool his life sounds, but I won’t. Jay works at Corpus Christi College at the University of Oxford. The colleges were all so grand and so old. One of the colleges was established in 1264. My mind cannot even grasp that time period. It was the buildings that give Oxford this almost magical feel. The architectural styles of the university really affected my experience in Oxford. The buildings set you back in time a little bit. I can’t imagine what it is like to live there.
When I was studying in Italy, I would often find myself looking at picturesque towns like Siena and think to myself, “Whoa. People live here. Like people wake up everyday here because this is where they live.” Just the fact that people lived in such a beautiful place amazed me.
I had a “People go to school here. They wake up everyday here because they study here, at the University of Oxford,” moment. It really felt like a Harry Potter movie. Speaking of, I stood in the dining room where they do the sorting in the movie. It was in Christchurch, which was one of the coolest schools I’ve ever seen. Students can eat in this massive hall with paintings of people like Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth. I also stood on a staircase that is used in the Harry Potter movies. All the Harry Potter nerds were tweaking out. I wish I had read the books, but I haven’t. Oh well.
One thing I’d like to add about visiting Oxford is that I wondered if it’s annoying to students that their school is a tourist attraction. Christchurch Coellge, where the picture above it taken, had tours and signs especially for tourist. There are people that tour KU, but it isn’t usually anyone except for prospective students.
I loved that the students wore their robes when taking their exams. At Oxford, you go there for three years with no grades or feedback. The whole time is spent preparing for these exams at the end of your time. It is like finals on crack, in a way. The pressure would kill me. Anyway, the students who are taking these exams wear their graduation-type robes and mortar hats. We saw some students celebrating with wine and Champaign post-exams. I snapped a picture with them.