Home » 2014 » April

Monthly Archives: April 2014

Exhibition: Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 at the V and A – 3 May 2014 to 15 March 2015

DSCN1713

The V&A’s spring 2014 exhibition traces the development of the fashionable white wedding dress and the work of leading couturiers and designers over the last two centuries.
Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 features over 80 of the most romantic, glamorous and extravagant wedding outfits from the V&A’s collection. It includes important new acquisitions as well as loans such as Kate Moss’s spectacular couture wedding dress designed by John Galliano and Jamie Hince’s outfit by Stefano Pilati for Yves Saint Laurent (2011), the embroidered silk coat designed by Anna Valentine and worn by The Duchess of Cornwall for the blessing after her marriage to HRH The Prince of Wales (2005), the purple Vivienne Westwood dress chosen by Dita Von Teese (2005), and the Dior outfits worn by Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale on their wedding day (2002).

Displayed  over two floors, the exhibition focuses on bridal wear. Most of the outfits were worn in Britain, by brides of many faiths. Alongside the dresses are accessories including jewellery, shoes, garters, veils, wreaths, hats and corsetry as well as fashion sketches and personal photographs. Garments worn by bridegrooms and attendants are also on display. The exhibition investigates the growth of the Wedding industry and the increased media interest in Society and Celebrity weddings.

Visiting London Guide Review

DSCN1688

The opening section concentrates on the 18th century and considers how closely the choice of dress reflected on the Bride’s and Groom’s position in Society.

DSCN1689

The fashion for white wedding dresses was encouraged by fashion magazines in Britain and France , a selection of the magazines fashion plates is shown  in the exhibition.

DSCN1692

During the Victorian age, the white wedding dress , veil and orange blossom flowers became so common it was seen as the traditional wedding apparel with the use of lace becoming more common.

After the first world war, there was increasing interest in Society Weddings by the media and the dresses became more flamboyant and out of the ordinary.

DSCN1696

The 1933 wedding dress by Norman Hartnell for Margaret Whigham typified this with its hanging sleeves and 3.6 metre train.

If the Hartnell dress drew on medieval influences ,the dress by Charles James went to the other extreme by creating a very modern dress that showed the curves of the bride, the dress still had a train but this was divided .

In the second world war , shortages of many goods had an effect and dresses tended to be simpler and low-key.

The 50s saw a return to the more flamboyant wedding dresses especially influenced by the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

The swinging sixties saw a rejection of many of the traditions that held sway in the previous decades and this was reflected in Wedding Dresses and suits worn by grooms.

For many there was a rejection of the traditional wedding dress altogether , with many brides wearing a designer dress that could be worn on other occasions.

DSCN1705

In the late 20th Century and early 21st century , the traditional white wedding dress seems to have made a comeback but often with a modern twist.

DSCN1704

The Wedding Dresses Exhibition is over two floors in a part of the museum which looks a little like a wedding cake, as well as the dresses, there are films and photographs of weddings to create a multi media environment.

What is quite clear from the exhibition is the role that media plays in presenting certain modes of Wedding Dresses as the fashion of that moment usually by focusing on the rich and wealthy members of the Society, these fashions then permeate down through the magazines and trendsetters amongst the designer fraternity to often be adapted lower down the ladder, especially by the Wedding Industry who offer the prospective couples themes to choose from.

The exhibition will appeal to people involved in the Wedding Industry and with interests in fashion and design, however the V and A  are past masters of presenting a theme for an exhibition that on the surface probably would not perhaps appeal to a massive cross section of people , however it is the context that probably has a wider appeal and Wedding Dresses from 1775 – 2014 tell us a great deal about the societies the individual brides lived in and their social position.

Visiting London Guide Rating  – Highly Recommended

 Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 – The exhibition takes place in the V&A Fashion Gallery (Gallery 40)

from 3 May 2014 – 15 March 2015.

The V&A is open daily 10:00 – 17:45 and until 22:00 every Friday.
Ticket Information –  Tickets: £12 (concessions available)

Advertisements

Exhibition: Building the Picture – Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting at the National Gallery,30 April – 21 September 2014

N-1033-00-000125-pr

NG1033 Sandro Botticelli The Adoration of the Kings, about 1470-5

Tempera on poplar ,130.8 x 130.8 cm,Bought, 1878

© The National Gallery, London

The National Gallery presents the first exhibition in Britain to explore the role of architecture within painting, with the focus on Italian Renaissance painting of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.
Building the Picture: Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting aims to increase visitors’ appreciation and understanding of some of the most beautiful and architectural paintings by Italian masters such as Duccio, Botticelli, Crivelli, Veneziano, Mazzolini and their contemporaries.
Using the National Gallery’s  famous collection of  Italian Renaissance paintings, this exhibition will also  include the Venetian master Sebastiano del Piombo’s The Judgement of Solomon (Kingston Lacy, The Bankes Collection, National Trust), on display in London for the first time in 30 years, and ‘The Ruskin Madonna’ by Andrea del Verrocchio (National Gallery of Scotland).

Building the Picture explores the roles played by architecture in painting and how it affects the viewing process. Architecture within paintings has often been treated as a passive background or as subordinate to the figures. This exhibition shows how, on the contrary, architecture underpinned many paintings, and was used to design the whole picture from the very start. This was the case in Sandro Botticelli’s Adoration of the Kings , where the ruins in the picture were planned first and still dominate the composition. Renaissance paintings are full of arches, doorways and thresholds.

Visiting London Guide Review

N-3919-00-000032-pr

NG3919 Sandro Botticelli Three Miracles of Saint Zenobius, about 1500

Tempera on wood, 64.8 x 139.7 cm, Mond bequest, 1924

© The National Gallery, London

One of the aims of the Building the Picture: Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting is to increase visitors’ appreciation and understanding of some of the most beautiful and architectural paintings by Italian masters such as Duccio, Botticelli, Crivelli and their contemporaries.

As you walk around the Exhibition with this is mind, it is quite enlightening to consider the background as well as foreground which usually takes your attention.

It is quite remarkable how many of the Renaissance painting use arches, doorways and thresholds to frame the action in the painting.

DSCN1658

It is interesting how the subjects in the paintings are not over powered by the architecture but often seem to be larger than life.

DSCN1659

Another interesting aspect is how the buildings give the picture a three dimensional quality and draws the viewer into the picture.

DSCN1657

One of the benefits of looking at paintings from roughly the same era but different painters is that common themes are followed and similar painting techniques but each painter will try to be slightly different in the way present the picture.

DSCN1665

The National Gallery should be applauded for putting on a exhibition which challenges the viewer to consider how a painting can be made up of different aspects which come together to make the whole more successful.

It also gives some insight into the mind of the Renaissance painter whose vision of beauty was not confined to human beings and nature but also to the bricks and mortar that could be used to create wonderful buildings sometimes in the imagination but also in reality.

The relatively small  size of this exhibition gives the visitor plenty of time to look at the painting individually and in relation to each other.  The exhibition is free so if you are visiting the National Gallery is one not to miss. It also forms part of the Renaissance Spring  as season of exhibitions that include the Veronese  and Strange Beauty Exhibitions.

If you are intrigued by the subject matter of the Exhibition, the National Gallery has commissioned five short films to coincide with this exhibition demonstrate how contemporary practitioners and thinkers are again blurring the boundaries between media and forms of practice. The films provide modern perspectives on real and imagined architecture from award-winning Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, film-maker Martha Fiennes, art historian T. J. Clark, film historian John David Rhodes and computer game cinematic director Peter Gornstein.

Also the Building the Picture: Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting is an online exhibition catalogue produced by the National Gallery to accompany the exhibition. This digital catalogue will be accessible online here.

Dates and opening hours

Open to public: 30 April – 21 September 2014

Sunley Room

Admission free

Daily 10am–6pm (last admission 5pm)

Fridays 10am–9pm (last admission 8.15pm)

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

Book Review : A London Pub For Every Occasion by Herb Lester Associates

london pub

One of the pleasures of living in London is the range of London Pubs that are available, even the most ardent pub crawler would hardy make a dent on covering the estimated 7000 pubs in the Greater London area.

Pub guides are nothing new but are generally concerned with the quality of the beer or  the architecture and history of the pub itself.

A London Pub for Every Occasion is concerned with such things but is more concerned by whether the pub suits your particular mood or needs.

So we get recommendations for pubs to go to on a sunny or a rainy day, somewhere to meet before a show or a trip to a museum, somewhere to chat with friends or if you want to be on your own.

The writer confess his preference for “pubs with real ale, real fires and little or no music; for friendly staff ,dim light and a couple of animals roaming around” but suggest that the selections are based on “dogged research filtered through these prejudices.”

If you get the impression that it was written by a grumpy old man in a quiet pub who likes to stare at his pint and glowers at anyone enjoying themselves, you will be relieved to learn that the reviews of the pubs are actually light and whimsical.

In the section, It’s not too early is it ?, the writer recommends the Simpson Tavern because ” if breakfast in a tavern appeals, but perhaps without the aroma of last night’s slops, at this remarkably unaltered 18th century establishment you can tuck into a full English.”

In the section, When you just want to be alone, our intrepid drinker is in the Fox and Hounds in Chelsea it is “a single room hostelry decorated with junk shop finds. From somewhere above comes the sound of barking dogs, on the top of a bookcase stands a stuffed fox, the barmaid politely but firmly informs a family peering though the door that their licence forbids children. All is serene.”

In the nearest thing to a favourites section, Because there’s nowhere you’d rather be,  we find ourselves at the Three Kings near Farringdon ” it is remarkably ramshackle ,with outlandish décor (the rhino head is unmissable), quiz nights and an air of bonhomie.”

It is within this tone, that the book sweeps though 161 London Pubs giving snapshots of history, quality of beer, ambience  and habits of the locals . The amusing and slightly offbeat illustrations match the text with their attention to many of the pubs interiors and exteriors.

At the back of the book there is a handy fold up map which charts the areas and locations of the pubs.

If any London visitor wants to understand the British or London character they perhaps should study this book and then visit some of the pubs and meet the locals.

This unusual and entertaining guide is the type of book in which to read in a quiet pub, smiling to yourself whilst occasionally staring at your pint and glowering at anyone enjoying themselves.

Visiting London Guide Rating  – Highly Recommended

If you would like to buy a copy of the book visit the Ebury press website here

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty comes to London in 2015

BRITAIN-FASHION-McQUEEN

Alexander McQueen Ready to Wear A/W 1998
Paul Vicente/ AFP/ Alexander McQueen RTW A/W 1998/ Getty Images

The V&A have announced that it will present Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty in London in spring 2015,the original version of Savage Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 2011  became one of the Museum’s top 10 most visited exhibitions.

Birds_Nest_Headdress_made_with_Swarovski_Gemstones_by_Philip_Treacy_and_Shaun_Leane_for_Alexander_McQueen_AW_2006

Bird’s Nest Headdress, made with Swarovski Gemstones
Philip Treacy and Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen A/W 2006

The V & A exhibition will be the first and largest retrospective of the late designer’s work to be presented in Europe.

Sarah Burton, Creative Director Alexander McQueen, said: “Savage Beauty is a celebration of the most imaginative and talented designer of our time. Lee was a genius and a true visionary who pushed boundaries, challenged and inspired. He believed in creativity and innovation and his talent was limitless.”

Alexander McQueen - Paris Fashion Week Autumn 2006

Alexander McQueen Ready to Wear A/W 2006
Michel Dufour/ Alexander McQueen A/W RTW 2006/ Getty Images

Martin Roth, V&A Director, said: “ Lee Alexander McQueen was brought up in London, studied here and based his globally successful McQueen fashion brand here – by staging the exhibition at the V&A it feels like we are bringing his work home.”

McQueen’s untimely death in 2010 at age 40 was an enormous blow to the British fashion scene, but his London-based fashion house is still very successfully run by designer Sarah Burton.

Alexander McQueen: Paris Fashion Week Ready-to-Wear A/W 09

Alexander McQueen Ready to Wear A/W

Pascal Le Segretain/ Alexander McQueen RTW A/W 2009/ Getty Images

In what is expected to be a very popular event, the V & A are making tickets available from the 25th April.

Tickets to the V&A’s exhibition go on sale at 10:00 on 25 April 2014. To book tickets visit the V & A website here

Vikings Books Competition – Closing Date 25th May 2014

viking1111

To celebrate the Viking Exhibition at the British Museum , Visiting London Guide has some Viking goodies kindly donated by British Museum Press for someone to win in our Viking Competition.

To be in with a chance to win the prizes answer the following questions:

1) What Scottish Island were the Chessmen discovered in 1831 ?

2) Harald became the King of which Scandinavian country ?

To Enter

To enter the competition, email visitinglondonguide@gmail.com with Competition in the subject line.

Please give your answers to the questions and your name and address.

Closing date will be 25th May 2014

Sorry but only UK residents can enter this competition.

Full terms and conditions can be found at the bottom of this article.

The winner will win the following books and gift:

The-Lewis-Chessmen-and-what-happened-to-them-British-Museum-illustrated-story-books-history-for-kids-cmc23240_listinglarge

The Lewis Chessmen by Irving Finkel  (For children aged 9-11)

(British Museum Press)

The Lewis Chessmen are some of the British Museums most popular exhibits but how did they end up at the British Museum ?

Their journey from a hole underneath a Scottish beach  to prized possessions of the British Museum is told in this book from the viewpoint of the Lewis Chessmen themselves.

Where the Ivory  Chessmen were made is shrouded in mystery but many archaeologists believe the Chessmen were created in Scandinavia possibly Norway.

The book begins not in Scandinavia but on a Scottish beach on the Isle of Lewis in 1831 , the Chessman had grown used to living underground but heavy storms and a  wayward cow finally expose their hiding place.

This is the beginning of an adventure that finds our Chessmen passed around collectors until they are divided and sold, sixty seven  to the British Museum and eleven to a collector Mr Sharpe before finally ending up in the Royal Museum of Scotland.

Our small Chessmen try to make sense of all that happens to them until they are finally reunited for a special exhibition in 1993.

This very enjoyable book with wonderful illustrations  give full reign to the characters that are so appealing about the Chessmen. Each Chessman seems to have its own character and expression , some of the Kings sword in hand are ready for battle, the Queen hand on face looks exasperated , the  holy Bishops look very jolly and the Warders, sword and shield in hand are ready to protect.

This book will appeal to children who like to understand history in a fun and amusing way , the Chessmen like children are frequently bemused by the behaviour of grown ups.

If you would like to buy a copy of this book , Visit the British Museum Shop here

The-Tale-of-King-Harald-The-Last-Viking-Adventure-children-adventure-history-story-book-British-Museum-Press-exhibition-cmc23448_listinglarge

The Tale of King Harald by Thomas J. T. Williams   (For children aged 9-11)

The Tale of King Harald looks at the harsh reality of Viking life by tracing the adventures of Harald from a young man in the dark forests of Norway to his final quest to secure the British Isles.

This book is part adventure , part history lesson about how the Vikings travelled far and wide in pursuit of wealth and power. Harald is forced to leave Scandinavia at an early age to offer his service to Yaroslav ,Grand Prince of Novograd and all the Rus. Over the next few years he becomes as a fearsome warrior travelling as far as Byzantium to join the Emperor’s Varangian Guard.

But working as a mercenary for other rulers did not satisfy Harald who finally decides to return home to fight for the Norwegian Crown which he finally achieves. But all this is not enough as he becomes ruthless, single- minded and obsessed with war.

The Tale of King Harald  is much more than just an adventure story but gives a sense of the type of world the Vikings lived in. Kinship and alliances were important but these all too easily degenerated into bitter feuds and wars.

For many Vikings rulers, violence was a way of life  to gain wealth and power but the growth of Christianity led many to question that particular approach.

The book is sub titled The Last Viking Adventure because with Harald’s defeat at Stamford Bridge the Viking age was almost over . In Britain at least, it was the time for the Normans themselves descended from the Vikings to conquer and rule.

If your child is interested in the Vikings and history , this well written and well illustrated book is a good starting point to   understand the Viking way of life.

If you would like to buy a copy of this book , Visit the British Museum Shop here

Make-Your-Own-Viking-Ship-Vikings-Key-Stage-2-children-activity-book-history-gifts-for-kids-British-Museum-Press-cmc23431_listinglarge

Make Your Own Viking Ship (The British Museum Press)

The Viking Ship was essential for the Vikings success in raids and conquests, now you can make your own !

Based on the famous Oseberg ship, you can press out the pieces and construct your own Viking Ship.

If you would like to buy a this gift , Visit the British Museum Shop here

 

Competition Terms and Conditions

  1. The competition is open to residents of the UK .
  2. The competition is not open to employees or agencies of Visiting London Guide or family members or anyone else connected to the prize draw.
  3. Entry is acceptance of these terms and conditions
  4. To enter the competition, email visitinglondonguide@gmail.com with Competition in the subject line. If you have any questions about how to enter or in connection with the competition, please email us with Competition in the subject line.
  5. Only one entry per person. Entries on behalf of another person will not be accepted and joint submissions are not allowed.
  6. No responsibility is taken for entries that are lost, delayed, misdirected or incomplete. Proof of delivery of the entry is not proof of receipt.
  7. The competition closes at 23.59 On 25 May 2014.
  8. The winners will be chosen from a random draw of entries.
  9. One Winner will receive one copy of The Lewis Chessmen, The Tale of King Harald , Make your own Viking Ship.
  10. The winner will be notified by email on 26th May 2014.
  11.  The prize is non-exchangeable, non-transferable, and is not redeemable for cash.
  12. No purchase necessary.
  13. The prize draw will be governed by English law.
  14.  Promoter: Visiting London Guide.com
  15. We do not collect or pass on Personal Data , all email address, name and addresses received on competition entries will be deleted from our systems.

Book Review : Vikings Life and Legend – edited by Gareth Williams,Peter Pentz,Mathais Wemhoff.

Vikings-life-and-legend-book-exhibition-catalogue-British-Museum-title-hardback-paperback-cmcf23363_productlarge

The Vikings Exhibition at British Museum is the first major UK Exhibition on the Vikings in over thirty years and presents a wide range of new information and artefacts from not just Britain and Scandinavia but also from Eastern Europe and beyond.

Anyone who has attended the exhibition cannot fail to be impressed, not least by the remains of the impressive ‘Roskilde 6’ the longest Viking Ship yet discovered.

However, one of the difficulties of the exhibition is providing enough information that complements the wonderful array of Viking material.

ValeofYork

Vale of York Hoard, 10th century, North Yorkshire, England (Silver-gilt, silver and gold)

British Museum, London/Yorkshire Museum, York – © The Trustees of the British Museum

This is where the books that often accompany exhibitions are often invaluable and the Vikings life and legend book from the British Museum offers a wide range of information that attempts to explain some of the complexities of the Viking Age.

Not many books have a foreword written by Royalty, but Her Majesty Queen Margrethe of Denmark makes some very important points when she remarks “ The many new finds have given us further information about the people of the Viking age, their thoughts and deeds. Yet we certainly do know everything, and such information may throw light on the darkness. It is here, at the transition between knowledge and darkness, in the twilight, that the imagination steps in and dreams begin”

Anyone writing about the Vikings age is faced with the dilemma of people’s perception born of centuries of legends and propaganda of Vikings as raiders and killers, more recent research may have celebrated Vikings as traders, settlers, explorers and shipbuilders but the old perceptions show little sign of going away.

This book takes the sensible approach of considering all facets of Viking life and seeks to explain some of the complexities that will perhaps challenge many of our perceptions.

The book is built around four themes – Contacts & Exchange, Warfare & Military Expansion, Power & Aristocracy, and Belief and Ritual. Each theme explores the period between the late eighth and late eleventh centuries which saw an unprecedented movement of people out of the Scandinavian homelands.

Unsurprisingly the Vikings is seen purely as a Scandinavian tradition, however new evidence has shown that their reach was much wider and included areas of Eastern Europe. This often explains how the trading routes spread to the Baltic and the Byzantine empire.

The range and scale of trade is often illustrated when a hoard is found and they often include items from the Mediterranean and Islamic world.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Lewis Chessmen, late 12th century, Uig, Lewis, Scotland,Walrus Ivory.

© The Trustees of the British Museum

In the section on Warfare some of the myths of Vikings are explored, although a naked Berserker may spread panic and fear to isolated communities such as monks, there is evidence that the Vikings as an unbeatable fighting force may have been exaggerated and a number of Vikings graves have been found where they were massacred by the local tribes.

Most of the success of the raiders seemed to be based on the speed of the attack and retreat rather than outright conquest. This itself reflected on the power structure of the early Viking age when a multitude of Warlords dominated with relatively small fighting forces. It was only when the Kingdoms were unified that larger expeditions were undertaken.

The section on Belief and Ritual explores how the ‘heathen’ Vikings eventually became part of the Christian world, the finds from Viking ritual sites and graves marked the gradually spread of Christianity.

The Vikings life and legend book is a well written, comprehensive and informative picture of how recent finds are slowly changing our perception of the Viking Age, the numerous lavish illustrations and references offer considerable insight into the Viking world.

If you are interested in this world and wish to understand some of the its complexities , this book would be a useful purchase. Although it is seen as a companion piece to the Exhibition, it is equally useful as a informative guide to one of the most intriguing periods of European history.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like to buy a copy of the book press here

Related Posts

 Exhibition : Vikings Life and Legend at the  British Museum – 6th March to 22nd June

Review – Greenwich Market

grenprem

Greenwich historic market was originally assigned to the Commissioners of Greenwich Hospital in 1700. Originally housed next to West Gate of the Old Royal Naval College, it began to spread into the neighbouring area in the 1800’s. As part of a drive to clean up the market it was moved to its current position.

In 19th century the market traders generally sold live and dead meat, fish, eggs, butter, poultry, fruit and vegetables.

grenm3
In 1905 the market bye-laws were changed to enable trading six days a week with the exemption of Sundays, Christmas day and bank holidays.
After World War II the wholesale fruit, veg, meat and fish stalls of Greenwich Market went through a gradual period of decline until the 1980s.

grenm2
The 1980s saw a revival in the fortunes of Greenwich Market when it was decided to concentrate on arts and crafts. This decision was proven to be a sensible one with the market developing and expanding over recent years.

gremm1

Antiques and Collectables are the main attraction on (Tues, Thurs, Fri), Local Artists sell a range of contemporary and collectable prints, posters, sculpture, photography, maps and fine art especially at the weekend.

gremar4

Independent designers are well represented in the market especially in Art and Crafts.

gremmarg

Around the outside of the market, Food outlets selling Street food from all around the world have increased recently and offer plenty of choice for refreshments.

To find out more, visit the Greenwich Market Website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and the latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here