For the first time in two weeks, I was able to get a full night’s sleep. I knew I would need it for the busy day ahead.
After some breakfast at Le Pain Quotidian (haven’t eaten there since I lived in Manhattan), I lined up for “David Bowie is” at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I’ve loved Bowie ever since I saw him perform live when I was in high school and I really admire him as a true multi-talented artist/Renaissance man. The exhibit itself was a bit sensory overload at first. But once I got used to it, I had a great time. The clothing/costumes in particular impressed me, especially the powder blue suit from the “Life on Mars” music video and the silver Pierrot from the “Ashes to Ashes” music video. It was really inspiring to see Bowie’s handwritten lyrics for “Space Oddity” and “Ashes to Ashes.” Also, I was delighted to see Bowie’s hand-drawn storyboard for the “Ashes to Ashes” music video, a note to Bowie from Christopher Isherwood and a painting by Bowie of Yukio Mishima. Of course, I spent some time in the gift shop buying Bowie souvenirs for friends and family.
I had a little bit of time to run around the rest of the V&A, but one really needs a lifetime to see every nook and cranny of that museum. I saw some beautiful William Morris pieces (wallpaper, etc.) and, by chance, the costume designs from the original production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado. Then, I ran quickly through the Regency period rooms as well as the Medieval/Renaissance rooms.
After that, I went over to the Tate Britain. It was somewhat overwhelming seeing William Blake’s paintings in person for the first time, especially The Ghost of a Flea. In person, one can really see the textures and colors that don’t get picked up on a digital reproduction. I spent a long time in the Blake rooms, and almost didn’t want to leave. I also saw paintings by some of my other favorite artists like John Singer Sargent, which was quite a treat.
After some rest, I headed over to 17th South Molton Street for the Blake Society talk. What an amazing experience! Tim Heath — the chairman of the society who I have been in contact with through e-mail — was so kind, patient, and knowledgable. We managed to get my slideshow working and projected the images on the walls of Blake’s flat. Originally, Tim said there would only be room for 14 guests, but about 24 guests showed up and we managed to squeeze them in. Everyone had such interesting questions to ask me and their own insights on The Ghost of a Flea. Jesús came, which was great. So did Sarah Goode, who was absolutely lovely. One lady even came hoping to buy 25 copies of The Poet and the Flea for her book club (sorry, it’s not finished yet)! Also, the society gave me as a gift 3 high-quality (on a printer with 16 colors) prints/reproductions of Blake’s work, so maybe I’ll get them framed when I get home. Many, many thanks to the Blake Society and everyone in attendance!
Copyright 2013 by G. E. Gallas