Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Venice of the north

Done lots of work, ate lots of chocolate, saw some family from ‘cross the pond. The Dr dragged me out into the sunshine yesterday and we explored the posher, greener bits around where we abode.

Went to the Dulwich Picture Gallery and its busy Canaletto in England exhibition (on until 22 April). The DPG (as it’s known to the hood) only has a moderate exhibition space, which was crammed with a great wealth of pics large and small, plus a great wealth of fellow browsers.

Canaletto was in England between 1746-55, and his main interest was evidently the architecture. Just as in his famous Venetian efforts, grand buildings look majestic beneath a great deal of pretty sky. The people who give scale and a clue to the period are constructed from crude spheres and cylinders – more marionettes than they are people. On close inspection I have to admit I was rather reminded of Trumpton.

The epic views of the skyline above the Thames show a vibrant and complex metropolis, its most modern (then) constructions showing Venetian influence. Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s loom hugely over the rest of the city, but it’s fun to spot the odd other landmark – the roofs of Westminster and the Banqueting Hall, the square tower of the cathedral at Southwark.

Also on record is the building of Westminster Bridge (the one Daleks famously queued upon, and where Eccles and Rose first held hands).

I found the pen-and-ink sketches of far more appeal than the oils. Perhaps it’s the quick movement of the marks on the paper that give them more life and vibrancy. Perhaps the lack of glossy colour makes them more dirty and lived in. Or perhaps they look more comic strip and trendy. I also like seeing the working, and the sketches include notes for later colouring-by-numbers and hastily scrawled other detail.

As is the law in these matters, the few postcards missed all of our favourites, so I splashed out on the £25 book. We wended our way up the sunshiny hill and found a pub with a garden and lunches.

Back home to the grindstone until getting on for 10, and got most of what I’d planned finished off. Then snuggled up with the Dr to watch nothing on telly, flipping channels and bothering the cat.

At one point we moved from UKHitler, showing Eva Braun’s holiday movies, to 8 Women starring Catherine Deneuve. This – in those moments we saw of it – seemed a muddle of pretentious old cliché and was not, I said, a little French.

“The Nazis were better,” said the Dr. And then added (she said as a joke), “They made for better television”.

Spent the rest of my bank holiday being warned of terrible dooms that would follow repeating her words here.


Le Mc said...

Indeed. Post cards never coincide to what one likes best.

Rob Stradling said...

I've just been to The Paris of the North", and Paris is a capital so I win so nyer.