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Saturday, 7 April 2012

Lucian Freud at the National Portrait Gallery

Hello everyone. Yesterday was very sunny in Canterbury. We took our dogs, Topaz and Pearl, to a beach at Whitstable. The sky was blue and sea looked almost blue for Whitsatble. It usually looks grey due to the grey sand there. We met about 40 dogs. All were contented and happy. Some whippet lovers loved to meet ours.
Whitstable beach. Oyster bar at the background.

On Thursday I had a good time at London. I initially wanted to see Lucian Freud exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. But when I checked on it online, the nearest day I could book was the 28th of April! It says that 500 tickets a day are allotted for first come and first serve basis, but a queue is expected. I don't queue. It is a matter of principle. So I checked other exhibitions and decided to visit David Hockney at Royal Academy of Arts instead. I also planned to have a nice lunch at their restaurant, as a treat.

I have got a bargain for a train ticket to St Pancras. They offer 25% off right now if you book your tickets online. Everything seemed fine. But I missed the first off-peak train, and then second one as well! When I finally arrived at St Pancras, it was about 12:30. I realised that it would be too late for a lunch at Royal Academy of Arts. I usually have a lunch at noon to avoid a long wait. So I trotted to Le Pain Quotidien, my favourite boulangerie at St Pancras, and had espresso and my favourite, an organic almond croissant.

It was a very cold day. It seemed getting colder too. It was about 7 degree or even less. When I almost got RA, I heard cute music. Yes, of course. It was Fortnum and Mason's doll clock. It was already one o'clock.
Lovely clockwork
It was nice to see the young and the old stood there and watch these dolls coming out, together.

The Royal Academy of Arts is just opposite. I went throught the open gate and saw this.


Although you can't really see how long this queue was in this photo, but there was three turns and the end of queue was one third of the fourth line. I sighed, and walked up to a young female staff. 'Excuse me, is this for David Hockney?' She and her colleagues were at the end of the queue, probably arranging it, and they looked terribly cold, rubbing their arms. She grinned 'Yes, it is.' I asked,'Is the queue like this everyday?' she pulled her face and said sadly 'Yes, it is like this everyday!' Ah-oh. My both 'Plan A' and Plan B' went to a wall, well actually, a queue.

So I left. Only place I could think of going to now was Fortnum and Mason. I wanted to buy some Keemun tea, which I can't get hold of in Canterbury recently. Inside the building it was warm, and much more crowded than I ever expected. There were lots of business people shopping Easter chocolates at their lunch time, and tourists looking for souveniers to buy.  

Keemun is not pre-packed, so I went to the counter to order some. Then I was abruptly disturbed by a Japanese woman. She talked to me, saying only adjectives without subjects, verbs or polite expressions, which Japanese are so well-known for.I ended up ordering some tea for her who didn't know English well.

After that, I looked at a small exhibition of British crafts. I soon recognised willow sculptures, which I saw on TV some days ago. Then I bought some coffee too. We usually buy single country beans. So I thought it would be fun to buy something different. Fortum and Mason's old blend, Akbar is described as mild and rich. It sounds just what I like!
Akbar beans. Lovely taste,

I have done all things I wanted to do at the shop, I have to decide what to do next. I thought I would go to the National Gallery to see some of my favourite works of arts. While I was walking, I thought I should check on the queue on Freud exhibition, just in case. The National Portrait Gallery is adjacent to the National Gallery, any way. 

Looking at the windows of small shops is always a fun. So I took back streets to see more of shops I have not seen before. I met a bedlington terrier who just played in a pond in the park (the lady owner said she stinks of pond water!).  Then I saw this. I thought it looks rather neat.
It is not art installation. It's construction.
The Trafalgar Square was as crowded as usual. There are always lots of school trips from the Continent. I walked past the crowd, and reached the Portrait Gallery. I went to the main hall, and found there was no queue! There was nobody in front of the ticket counter! They were selling tickets for three o'clock entry. I immediately bought a ticket and checked the time. It was ten past two. So I decided to see other displays in the gallery before my time. I haven't come here for several years, and they were refurbished since I came last time. It was nicely done, and I enjoyed portraits as well as displays. I like old portraits before the Victorian time.

Leigh Bowery
Soon time had passed, and I entered Freud exhibition. It was very crowded. I overheard that two old ladies talking to each other;one said in a definitive voice 'Just as I thought! It is too small a space to show this exhibition here!'. A little booklet came with a ticket, and people read it and looked at each painting. So Movement was very slow. I ignored the booklet, and just went to any room which had fewer people. The exhibition was arranged in chronological order. Earliest works were painted in 1950's. They looked flat and pale. In the 60's his realism started to develop and flourished. Those skins he painted look so powerful. All blotches and patches look so ugly, still realistic.

I especially liked the paintings on Leigh Bowery. So powerful, so deep, such presence. Freud painted several self-portraits. When I was looking at one of them, a middle aged lady said quietly to her female companion, 'He was kind to himself.'
'He was kind to himself'
The painting of 'Big Sue' are all on large canvas. They are overwhelming. They brought little awe to me.

Unforgetabble piece was Elli, the whippet, and David. You could feel the trust and affection in the painting. It is a tender and calm piece.To a whippet lover like myself, it is an even more attractive piece. 

After that, I looked the rest of the gallery, and when I came out of the building, outside looked much brighter. The first sunshine I saw on that day. My feet were sore, besides I was very satisfied with what I had seen, I decide to go home. I took a tube from Leicester square, and trotted down to Le Pain Quotidien again for three almond croissants (two for me and one for my lovely Mike). I also bought espresso to have in the train. I caught ten past five train, so it was not chock full. I took the seat in front of a whippet sitting on a man's lap. A lovely dog was nine month old. I had a chance to pat her several times.

Mike came to pick me up at the station. After dinner we enjoyed organic almond croissant each as desert. I thought my day went rather well despite a wrong start.
The second Almond criossant on the day.

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