Sunday, October 18, 2009

Leaving England

Admittedly, it has been two months and approximately 4 days since our departure from England, but somehow it seems much more recent, as if I could just walk out my front door, hop on the bus, and catch the train to London. It was the circumstances of leaving, I believe, that have me a bit confused. The final weeks of my time in Norwich were spent buried in my Master's thesis, so my finish line, rather than being at Heathrow airport, was in the Taught Programs Office at the university. A scant three days before leaving Norwich for one final night in London, I handed in my thesis, and my relief overshadowed my awareness that we would soon be back in the U.S. And then, all of a sudden, we were gone.

Before we left, though, we managed to visit some museums that I had been wanting to visit the whole time that we were in the UK. For instance, the Tate Modern.

Tate Modern

Now, I actually like modern art. I estimate that approximately 90 percent of it is gimmick, and the other 10 percent is brilliant, and the Tate Modern didn't let me down. 90 percent of their collection was head-scratching, brow-furrowing, money-making curiosities, while the rest was absolutely compelling and fabulous. It was interesting to see the differences between a modern art museum in London and one in, say, Berlin, or San Francisco. Some cities seem to lean towards more ebullient, dramatic works, while others seem to prefer a drier, more sterile style, while still others seem to be struggling to push boundaries that I believe were pushed to breaking several years ago. My thoughts on which cities bear which traits, though, may be controversial and/or disagreeable to some, so I'll keep the specifics to myself...

We also visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, which was incredible and so far-reaching that I had a hard time knowing which way to go, which hallway to walk down. Sculpture, fashion, stamps, props and opera garb, textiles, 80s appliances, antiquarian books, 15th-century Chinese furniture, contemporary photography, Middle Eastern tapestries - it was all there. It was a shocking variety, really. B couldn't help but try on some costumery.

Victoria and Albert Museum

He is standing in front of what I believe is an exact replica of Kylie Minogue's dressing room from a tour a few years back, which was, I thought, an odd exhibit. It's quite the dreamcoat, though, and flattering, don't you think?

And dear readers, I have a request. I took a picture of this amazing bust, and I cannot for the life of me remember the artist or the name of the piece, so if anyone has any ideas, please share them. I love it:

Rodin? At V&A Museum

I am, apparently, a bad museum-goer. I should have written it down.

In addition to the museums, we spent a final day walking through the city, eating delicious dim sum, visiting various sites, and generally acting like tourists. I'll be honest: in our final weeks there, I was ready to leave, and I was convinced that I wouldn't need to return to England for quite a while, and a short two months after leaving, I already miss it a little bit. I'm surprised - I didn't think that I would get sentimental about the UK, and pleasantly, I've proved myself wrong. It's such a quirky, paradoxical place, power and Primark side by side, imperial history running right up to Big Brother and council housing. It's fascinating.

English Power

Really, it was quite a year. England was never a place that I saw myself living, and now that it's over, I can't imagine not having done it. Though I didn't look back while I was leaving, I'm looking back now, and it's pretty from here.

Final night in England
Final night in England


Luvbeers said...

Perhaps the bust is unknown... I only saw one other photo of it on the Internet and it was also unlabeled. Def not Rodin. Email the V&A.

Great photo though! I also like the one of you guys reflecting in the vanity. If all else fails you should become a museum photographer!

silvergirl said...

Wish i could help you out with the bust: but i agree, you should email it to them! i'm sure they'd be more than happy to help you out.

And what a great photo of Big Ben... you got skillz, woman!