Curiosity Cloud Room

Curiosity Cloud Room

Once a month, the V&A have their Friday Late event, each with a different theme and free entry in the evening until the museum is full. I went to the London Design Festival one last Friday and totally loved it.

My favourite was the Curiosity Cloud installation room. We had to queue for about 10 minutes, our excitement matching the soft whirring buzz we could hear in the room. When we entered, we were struck by the soft illumination of 250 glass bulbs suspended from the ceiling. Some of the globes had fabric moths inside them which whizzed around as you walked through the installation. I didn’t know whether it was motion- activated. Nevertheless, it made me think of the phrase “moths to a flame”. And I felt smugly cultured for the week.

~ Spotted Cow

The Ship That Sunk Before It Left The Harbour

The Vasa Museum, view from across the waterfront

If you go to only one museum in Stockholm, go to the Vasa. It intrigued us because on one of our walks, across the waterfront, we saw an impressive ship-like building – the Vasa Museum – sitting next to a classically built edific

The Vasa is a large warship that took 300 men two years to build in 1626. In 1628, it set sail on its inaugural voyage to much fanfare, only to keel over and sink before it made it out of Stockholm harbour. What an anti-climax.

333 years later (such a magic number!), the Swedes salvaged the ship, excavated and restored it, eventually turning it into a 7-floor museum. Conservation is an on-going process. The ship’s size is the most dramatic thing about it. You can go up & down – your choice, elevator or stairs – to look at all the levels of the ship. And they’ve extracted details like the decorative elements, the working objects, and a model ship for a close-up inspection.

Normally, war ships aren’t my thing. However, having been, I can see why it is the most popular museum in Sweden.

~ Spotted Cow

The salvaged Vasa

A view of the model ship from a high floor

Decorative detail on the Vasa

Inside the Vasa Museum


Summer Exhibition at the RA


My London summer to-do list usually includes the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of the Arts. It’s usually a little bit mad because there are so many pieces of art spanning the spectrum of traditional, alternative and 3-dimensional media. And they’ve been running this big open entry exhibition for 250 years. That’s just amazing.

To start with, when you walk into the Wohl Central Hall, you are greeted by a life-sized sculpture of a man balancing a dozen cakes on his back. It made me smile and it wasn’t the quirkiest piece I saw that evening. Several of the rooms were hung with wall to wall, floor to ceiling pieces of art in a jigsaw of frames – so many that you don’t know where to look first. You need to go to the exhibition more than once to take it all in properly … although I’ve never done that.

The best thing about the Summer Exhibition is that it is accessible. There is £20 art and there is £20,000 art, but it doesn’t matter. As long as a piece speaks to you in some way, it has made its mark.

~ Spotted Cow

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition Red Dot art Bathing beauty artCut-outsMan with dozen cakes sculpture

Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art

Red glass marionette

You find surprising little gems in Australian country towns.

We came across the National Art Glass Gallery in Wagga Wagga on one of our country New South Wales car trips. I’m using this picture of a red glass marionette for the Work of Art theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge.

~ Spotted Cow


Matisse Cut-Outs

Matisse Cut-Outs souvenirs

The Matisse Cut-Outs exhibition is at the Tate Modern and I was very excited when the good folk at Bank of America Merrill Lynch invited me to a private viewing … along with about 600 of their other best friends. As a young adult I was enamoured with Matisse’s collage work, and I fancied that I too could cut out shapes from coloured construction paper and make art.

This was my first time seeing his work live. What amazed me was the size and scale of some of the pieces. Having broadly seen the collages in art books and postcards, I was surprised to find that some were wall-sized – The Snail – and others easily fit into an A3 folio.

Matisse made these collages in the last decade and a half of his life, after a cancer diagnosis. He called it “painting with scissors”. Largely housebound, he created his garden around him, with trees, leaves, fruit, and birds. From his wheelchair, he instructed his assistants – clad with pin-cushions tied around their waists – as to where the coloured pieces should go on the wall. They carried out his bidding, pushing their step-ladders back and forth, until the composition was exactly as he wanted it.

It’s a wonderful story, to have found creativity out of what could have been a very disheartening period in his life.

I don’t have many pictures, as I discovered inadvertently that we weren’t allowed to take photographs in the exhibition. But do go along. I found a piece I hadn’t known previously called The Bees, which look like bees – or nuns – flying across a courtyard in an arc. It’s very clever. You’ll see what I mean.

~ Spotted Cow

Matisse The CircusTate Modern Matisse exhibition