A beautiful black Ferrari zooms passed with an elder ‘banker’ shall we say driving; vroom vrooming passed St Paul’s Cathedral, toot tooting to pedestrians as they meander across the road in the sunshine. It brings a smile to my face, for reasons I’m not sure. I think it’s because I’m happy?
I’m walking carelessly through London, soaking up the April sun, taking a break from what is ‘a crazy horse’ of a month; filled to the brim with reviewing and interviewing of (many brilliant design) ideas and projects. It really is a joy to have a couple of hours to lose myself in London.
Getting up from my desk to walk and explore isn’t (but probably should be) a habit I adopt while working in Dundee. But for some reason, it’s different down here or I am. More open to letting go of habits and letting the air and visual world nourish my thoughts. Anyway…
As I’ve pitched up in Malmaison hotel for this trip, allowing me to explore Clerkenwell district, I walk to The Barbican to pop in to see the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition. It’s as you expect and hope; a busy haute couture fashion feast filled with his eclectic, exotic and erotic signature, spanning his 30+ years as a self-trained fashion designer. Technological twists bring a wry smile, as you realize the curator and Gaultier have captured his zany humour in the exhibition experience. A Gaultier mannequin with a ‘talking head’ greets and welcomes you, and while it sounds crass, it really isn’t. It’s not the only talking head mannequin, as human faces projected onto a number of the ‘models’ are scattered throughout the exhibition. There is, of course, too much to comfortably digest from this visual feast in one visit, so I soak up what is comfortable, and move on.
From here I take the advice of the taxi cab driver who drove me from Paddington earlier in the day. “Have you ever been to The Museum of London’ he asks. “No” I reply. “It’s a must! Me-n-the-wife were there for fours hours at the weekend, to see ‘The Cheapside Hoard: London’s Lost Jewels’. Brilliant! If you’ve got a spare hour, you should go.” I like the idea; it’s close by and he was genuinely impressed with the story of lost jewels and the splendor of Elizabethan and Early Stuart jewellery that awaits you. I go. Walking through The John Wesley Walkway from the Barbican to the Museum is restful and unexpectedly quiet. It feels good. As I arrive, the museum is naturally busy with tourists and visitors. But before committing to buying a ticket I walk aimlessly through the museum. I’m unsure. Do I have the energy to see a second exhibition in one afternoon? As I try to find the exit I decide I don’t. Yet, just as I call it a day I pass the heavily guarded entrance to the exhibition. Within five minutes I have bought a ticket and entered a dark, mysterious, temperature controlled room filled with curious folk. It is majestic in every sense of the word; filled with spectacular jewellery and jewels that are beautifully lit so as we can enjoy their beauty to the full.
And so my advice to you dear reader: if you’re in London before the 27th April 2014 – Make no plans, walk aimlessly and ‘Go see The Cheapside Hoard. The 16th Century jewellery, metalwork, gemstones, paintings and history are enchanting and inspiring! I particularly loved the tiny and heavily jewelled perfume bottle.’