Saturday, March 19, 2011

London Photographs

We spent Friday morning at the National Portrait Gallery, one of my favourite institutions in London. We saw two photograph exhibitions, one the work of E.O. Hoppé, and the other focusing on Ida Kar. Both constituted brilliant surveys of their respective cultural and historical milieux. Hoppé recorded some wonderfully human, candid portraits -- he was apparently interested in the diversity of London's population at the time and also curious about why some people achieved the level deserving of his studio portraiture while others struggled to make a living.  His studies of women, of people on the street, of girls at reform school, of new military recruits are all fascinating, as is his pantheon of portraits of the century's artists, writers, dancers, actors, and politicians. Wonderful portraits of Nijinksy and Thomas Hardy and Ezra Pound among many others.

Ida Kar similarly lived among a surfeit of talent, and she recorded it well. I was particularly struck by this in the portrait she took of Bertrand Russell sitting for sculptor Jacob Epstein. My little notebook is full of illustrious names whose portraits I devoured. I'm seriously considering breaking our carry-on limits to bring back the catalogue books for both exhibits, and Pater's right there with me. We haven't bought them yet, not wanting to haul them over to Paris, but will probably pick them up when we're back here at the end of April.
I try to jot enough down to remember what I've seen, but I've found visual memory is not my strength and I love having the books to refer back to.

Pater's getting much more keen on helping out with the photography, and snapped this shot of me scribbling in my Moleskine.

But then he decided that he'd keep up his role as cameraman, and had me stand outside in the rain while he shot another . . . Too cute, that boy.

Pater as Portrait Photographer . . . Will Hostess note that I'm wearing the scarf I won in her contest last year? It seems to be enjoying the galleries as well . . .

Friday night Pater and I watched a very intense, dark play starring Matthew Fox (Jack from Lost) and Olivia Williams (I last saw her in An Education, and before that in Dollhouse).
This morning, we Eurostarred it to Paris and are supposed to meet a friend for an evening of jazz tonight. Our apartment is well appointed, very nicely situated, and we're going to settle in now for a rest before heading out again. A bientôt.


  1. Could you order the books and have them shipped home, I wonder? I love painting and sculpture, but there's something about photography that can capture those fleeting expressions and gestures and creates the most amazing portraiture.

    You look travel-tastic! Pater's doing a fine job.

  2. You look so European and chic! I'm fighting with jealousy :-)

  3. I agree - a very chic look! I'm hoping that this comment will 'take' - the last one didn't. Looking forward to Paris! P.

  4. Pater's photos get better and better. I find it so loveable, how this has become a more visibly joint endeavour. And I can't wait to see the apartment in Paris.

  5. You look wonderful, especially in the one scribbling. Pater's get the hang of it. I can't wait to see your apartment.

  6. Convey our thanks to Pater for the photography and the EVIDENCE that you are really there!

  7. Lovely rainy shot with red, blue and you by pater...
    I like the image of you sitting inside on the bench.

    My goodness, the scarf has travelled to London...
    I see it!
    You look like you have had your hair too!

    Looking forward to more travel news.
    Have fun!

  8. I'm so glad you're having a wonderful time and that your Paris apartment is comfortable. Check Amazon for those exhibit catalogs. I often find them for less there and can have them shipped directly home.

  9. Unstoppable! Lots of energy! Like Pseu thought of shipping, the books sound like treasures.

  10. Ahh, I see Pret in the background, where my stroller and I made many a stop. Fortunately it is as ubiquitous in London as Starbucks is in the States--or Tim Horton's in Canada?!

  11. Pseu: this is a good suggestion, and one we may pursue.
    K: Thanks! I'm blushing -- and sorry about the jealousy-enducement. . .
    Patricia: some photos of Paris up for you now . . .
    Lisa: It's pretty cute, I agree -- I'm getting the benefit of his post-retirement energy.
    Susan, Terri, I'll pass along the compliments to Pater -- he's sure to appreciate them.
    Hostess: I'll have to take pics of it in Paris as well.
    My hair's been getting lighter and lighter over the past year or so, about 1/2 a shade each touch-up visit . . . I find now it's so much easier to stretch out the time between, as the grey roots coming in are so much less visible.
    CoutureAllure: Great idea -- it would be so much easier to do that than to haul the larger catalogues.
    Duchesse: I'm surprised how much we got done -- funny how one can dredge up energy on vacation. That said, we've been catching up on sleep now we're in a quieter spot.
    Miss C: I can just picture your image-echo in front of a Pret -- don't you wish we had them on our side of the Atlantic?

  12. Mater--Did you know that there are some Prets in New York? But they're just not the same; it feels wrong to go into one when I could be in a deli ordering a warm bagel wrapped in foil.

  13. Miss C: I stand corrected -- you're absolutely right, and I often deplore the franchises trying to duplicate an experience that really belongs elsewhere. You're def. better off with your warm bagel!


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