What a difference a fortnight makes; after my not overly successful visit to the Museum of Mistakes exhibition at WIELS I wanted to check out something a little more traditional and made my way the National Gallery on my first day in London.
Before we get to the art though, let’s marvel at the fact that for the 34 years I have been on this Earth, I thought that The National Gallery and The National Portrait Gallery were actually the same thing.
Which is pretty fucking embarrassing, especially as I’ve actually been to the National Portrait Gallery a few times and you know, was born in London.
Anyway, it turns out The National Gallery has been on Trafalgar Square since 1838, it has over 2,000 paintings that are split into four main sections, which covers works dating from the 13th to 20th Century.
It is quite frankly a wonderful place, a great mix of people, talking in hushed tones, but perfectly relaxed, taking time to look at the huge variety of pictures and decide if they liked it or not.
The layout is not good though, unless you have hours and hours to spend just wandering around, you’ll want to make sure you pick up a map as you go in.
You’re free to take photographs of most of the paintings and I love to walk into each room and see which work of art catches my eye and making sure I snap it. I’ve been looking through my shots trying to see if there is any pattern to the art that I like, but it’s a real mixture; everything from brightly coloured portraits to shady landscapes. The only thing I can be sure of though is that I’m really not a fan of religious art.
The building of the National Gallery is just as impressive as the art, the incredible domed ceilings, the stunning stairwells and all that gold! I spent most time amongst the paintings from the 20th century, which I wasn’t expecting. It seems Monet and Constable have no problem holding my attention.
I really enjoyed two of the temporary exhibitions that are being held at the National Gallery at the moment; Maggi Hambling’s Walls of Water is in one room and was fantastic. I really could have stared at those pictures for hours. I love her use of colour and that is seems the waves are splashing onto the canvas. It’s only on show until the 15th of February and you should really check it out if you can.
There was also a large exhibition of Peder Balke’s work, which we weren’t allowed to take photographs of (I hadn’t realised and took one before being told off (politely) by museum staff), I found his landscapes of Norway absolutely mesmerising. His limited use of colour making them even more powerful.
All in all a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Like most museums in London, entry into The National Gallery is free and it is somewhere I will definitely be returning to.
You can find out more on the National Gallery website.