Monday, 9 September 2013

Arty Chalk and Cheese

This weekend was another culture-fest for this Cheery Chicken ~ a delightful day trip to London. We toured Buckingham Palace, saw two art exhibitions, and even stumbled across sixty of the world's rarest cars as they roared and purred away from the Concours of Elegance at St James's Palace. Vrooom!
But as usual with art exhibitions, it was the artists I didn't expect to see that made the lasting impressions. We had tickets to see the Vermeer exhibition at the National Gallery but as we walked into Trafalgar Square we saw banners outside Canada House advertising Inuit Ullumi ~ an exhibition of contemporary Inuit art. It was free (hoorah!) so we popped in, and I'm very glad we did. There were only a handful of paintings, drawings and sculptures, but there was some amazing work there. Tim Pitsiulak's Ancient Aqviqs and Whale Hunt, and Itee Pootoogook's Cape Dorset at Night were among my favourites.
Ancient Aqviqs - Tim Pitsiulak
Whale Hunt - Tim Pitsiulak
Cape Dorset at night - Itee PootooGook

The works were a pleasantly modern take on folk art, in particular Pitseolak Qimirpik's sculpture Young Man Playing MP3, which could be mistaken for an ancient carving were it not for the MP3 player and smouldering cigarette propped between the smiling figure's fingers (Just Say No, kids!)

Young Man Playing MP3 - Pitseolak Qimirpik

After the refreshing Inuit surprise, we headed on to the National Gallery to see the Vermeer exhibition ~ talk about Chalk and Cheese! Although there were only four of Vermeer's paintings (no Girl with a Pearl Earring, sad face) there were heaps of other Dutch artists, and a collection of 17th century instruments ~ guitars, virginals and lutes. We even got to hear them played, as musicians from the Academy of Ancient Music gave regular performances of 17th century music.

My favourite painting of the exhibition was this one: 

The Concert - Hendrik ter Brugghen
Although the Vermeers were exquisite, it was the composition of ter Brugghen's The Concert that captured my attention. Such an intimate family gathering, cosily lit by a single candle, you can just picture this little family passing the winter evenings in song together.
The exhibition also included a fascinating display of photomicrographs (extreme close-ups to you and I) showing some of the materials and techniques Vermeer used to create his masterpieces, and how time has changed them.
Unfortunately this exhibition is finished now, but you can read about it on the National Gallery website. 

Inuit Ullumi, however, is on until 30th September. It's small but sweet, and I highly recommend you pop in if you're in the neighbourhood.

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