On our second day in London, we got up slightly hung over and headed into central London, first stop Oxford Street. With the credit crunch and recession looming it was sale central. We stopped off at Debenhams to browse their sale with up to 25% off, we got loads of bargains and did a fair bit of Christmas shopping. After that it was off to Russell Square to check out the Babylon exhibition at the British Museum in the pouring rain, unfortunately it was sold out for the day, so we dried off by browsing the permanent collections and realised that interspersed with the very old was the very new in the form of Statuephila – Contemporary British Sculpture including Damien Hirst’s painted skulls, Antony Gormley’s Case for an Angel 1 and my favourite Ron Mueck’s mask II – which along with the easter island statue fell foul to the “crushing your head” thing
After grabbing a bite to eat in the nearby Museum Street, we headed off towards the Barbican as we had tickets for the snappy titled This Is War! Robert Capa at Work, Gerda Taro On the Subject of War. it was a very interesting photographic exhibition, concentrating a lot on Capa & Toro’s coverage of the Spanish Civil War, but also down stairs included photos and video pieces based on more recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I thought maybe the upstairs section (Capa & Toro) could’ve been better laid out, it wasn’t clear where the exhibition started and finished, and there were several shots that were displayed twice for reasons unknown. But if you’re in London, definitely worth a visit. We also managed to visit the Curve Gallery on the ground floor of the Barbican which was hosting Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Frequency & Volume which is a large scale installation piece contains radios (that seem to double as projectors)that you walk past, depending on the size and strength of your shadow on the wall, the projectors tune to various radio frequencies, displayed on the walls. It’s quite surreal listening to a mish mash of local, pirate and national radio stations mixed in with emergency services radio frequencies etc… a lot of fun to be had though – great for kids.
It was getting on for after 6pm at this point, so we took the tube a couple of stops to Brick Lane, in my old neighbourhood of Whitechapel to meet with Julia and Carly who I hadn’t seen for well over 2 years! We had a couple of drinks in the Archers pub and then went for a curry. Sorry can’t remember the name of the curry house, but as usual the standard was high whilst being less that £10 a head including drinks.
Monday was our day home but we still had the morning to kill, so we checked out the Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990–2005 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, just off Trafalgar Square. I was really looking forward to this and it didn’t disappoint as one of my favourite Leibovitch photos of the White Stripes was on display
it also contained a variety of “famous” images and faces along side personal photos of the late Susan Sontag. Again, this is definitely worth checking out if you have £12 to spare.
After this there was not much time to do anything except grab a quick bite to eat anc head back to St Pancras for what turned out to be a rather uneventful train journey home.