This last month without classes has been wonderful. London has been warming up, so I’ve had some great opportunities to walk around a bit more and find some nice gardens to study in. Because spring is my favorite season I thought I’d focus this post on nature.
Parks in London
Since I spend a lot of my time walking around London, I’ve seen many of its parks by this point. Here are some of my favorite pictures from this spring.
Holland Park, situated just west of Kensington Palace, with tulip patches, the Kyoto Garden, and this nice peacock (I took a video of him calling to a female and raising his tail, but I’m not sure how to upload that).
Regents Park, near my residence off Regent’s Canal, situated near Primrose hill and the London Zoo.
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, established by Henry VIII in 1536 as hunting grounds and opened to the public in the early 1600’s.
The Peace Pagoda at Battersea Park, completed in 1985 by Rev. Gyoro Nagase and 50 volunteers to promote peace and global harmony and to oppose nuclear weapons.
Kew Gardens (or the Royal Botanic Gardens), a 326 acre site that contains numerous gardens and greenhouses open to the public and is also a botanical research and conservation site home to an internationally recognized seed bank. Founded in 1759 by Princess Augusta, it is home to the world’s largest and most diverse collection of living plants. The Dutch House, what remains of the larger complex of Kew Palace, is situated in the back of the gardens and is more aptly described as a pink country home. It was used on and off through the 18th century to house close relatives of the crown (for example as a schoolhouse for the future George IV). (www.kew.org)
I also can’t help mentioning the Tate Britain, the 4th or 5th London museum that I’ve visited, and my favorite by far. Not only does it have two works by Henry Fuseli, a 19th century Swiss painter I fell in love with after I saw The Nightmare at the Detroit Institute of Art, but there are numerous other works that I could just sit and stare at for hours.
First though, I’ll mention a conundrum I’ve faced: to take photos in museums or not to take photos? On the one hand I would rather enjoy my experience than spend the whole trip obnoxiously cataloging every moment of it on my phone (or, shudder, taking selfies with the paintings), but on the other hand the immensity of the number of fantastic exhibits I’ve forgotten keeps me up at night. Given that most museums these days allow non-flash photography, my compromise is to take photos sparingly, but so I might remember my favorite artists and styles for the future.
Henry Fuseli’s Shakespearean depictions of (1) ‘Lady Macbeth and Seizing the Daggers’, and (2) Tatiana and Bottom (from a Midsummer Night’s Dream). (3)The Nightmare, on exhibit at the DIA, sensualizing the vulnerability of unconsciousness, and perhaps alluding to sleep paralysis (final photo taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nightmare).
Here are a few of my other favorites from the Tate:
(1) The Archers (1769) by Joshua Reynolds depicts two 18th century aristocrats dressed in ‘quasi-historical’ Renaissance costumes posed heroically and on the hunt. I thought this painting was hilarious and wonderful because it shows that even 250 years ago people were dressing up in cosplay to live out heroic fantasies.
(2) Proserpine (1874) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, depicting Proserpine in the underworld, holding the pomegranate which sealed her fate as the wife of Hades. In the painting Proserpine’s face is bathed in light from Earth and she looks longingly towards the living world.
(3) The Annunciation (1892) by Arthur Hacker and influenced by Spanish and Moroccan styles of the day, shows Mary receiving The Annunciation from an invisible angel. It’s harder to see in a photograph, but the lighting on this painting was just phenomenal.
(information for the above three descriptions taken from signs at the Tate Britain)