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Thursday, 12 April 2018

First Trip of the Year to London

Our first trip of the year on Monday was to London by coach. We were picked up opposite the Co-op in High St, Old Town and dropped off at Tate Britain two hours later after a trouble free trip. Some of the party had booked tickets to see exhibitions, but I went to have a look at the nearby  Garden Museum before going into Tate Britain. The Garden Museum of the art, history and design of gardens  housed in St Marys Church, Lambeth has been spectacularly adapted for its use as a museum, so I thought I'd look up how much funding it has received from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Initially a grant of £3.5 million enabled an increase in the number of galleries and many other improvements, have a look here in 2014, and then in 2017 a further £7.5 million of HLF money was spent on an extension to create a cafe and a garden by Dan Pearson.
I thought the building, a former church, deconsecrated in the 1972 and earmarked for demolition, was fantastic. The atmosphere is wonderful, and there's so much to see. I'll give a brief idea of my favourite parts, I do recommend a visit.
Looking down from the first floor where the permanent displays are held.
The windows are fantastic, including the one below, a John Tradescant window, although I can't find out anything about this particular window. Many of the stained glass windows were damaged and have been replaced by clear glass:
 There's also some great art - gardeners, this one below 'Portrait of a black gardener' c 1905, by Harold Gilman (1876-1919) The information beside the painting says it's one of the most heroic depictions of gardening in art. Gilman was a gardener, and a poineer settler of Letchworth, the world's first garden city. Although there were black gardeners at this time, the figure may have been an artist's model
 and greenhouses and garden produce  painted by Paul Nash c 1930. Nash painted artichokes, apples and figs packed for a billboard commissioned by the Empire Marketing board, set up in 1926 to encourage people to buy products from Britain first and colonies second. The billboard declared that 450,000 tons of fruit grow in British orchards each year.
 From the Garden Museum, I went for lunch at Tate Britain and then had a wander round the galleries. Duncan Grant's 'Bathing' painted in 1911, it's fabulous, and was painted as part of a decorative scheme for the dining room at the Borough Polytechnic, London. The design was inspired by Michelangelo's male nudes and summers spent at the Serpentine in Hyde Park.
The painting attracted a lot of attention, in particular a visitor to Britain loved it and was eagerly anticipating her visit to Charleston.
 Another arresting painting was this one 'The Cholmondeley Ladies' c 1600-10
 It's painted on wood, on what appears to be 3 pieces of wide floorboards. The women were born on the same day, married on the same day and had babies on the same day. They look identical, but there are subtle differences between the women and their babies.

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