Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Entries Tagged as '2010 David'

The National Portrait Gallery, In My Opinion…

September 5th, 2010 · 3 Comments

I have been juggling with what to say in this post. I have been sifting through my likes and dislikes concerning the National Portrait Gallery and have come to a couple conclusions: Their collection is awesome, but it is incomplete and the lay out of the rooms was misleading and without enough direction.

Just as everyone has recognized, the collection consisted primarily of portraits of white people. Looking back, I really don’t remember seeing any portraits that focused on any other person of a different race. Because of this, the collection failed to do what I had expected it to do. If I had no knowledge of British history, than I would not have been able to draw an accurate account form this collection. I expected to walk through the rooms and see, as the portraits became more and more recent, examples of the diversification of England, of its people, and of its actions. Colonialism and imperialism representation was so underwhelming. But then I start to question what the point of the gallery is… What is the point? Without recognizing the importance of an array of different people, from all races, on England and its history as an empire, or even contemporary, there really is no point. Like I said before, I expected to get a glance at British history from walking through this collection, but it was so incomplete that it lost much of its meaning.

My second point, which is not about the collection itself, but how it was laid out, is also related to how I feel the gallery did a poor job representing the history of the nation. I would have like arrows. Seriously. I would have like to have been told where to start and which rooms to go into next. I understand that by the end the rooms became thematic, but I still believe they should have been placed one after another. Only dabbling in chronological order is confusing.

(Lavery, John. The Royal Family at Buckingham Palace. 1913. The National Portrait Gallery, London.)

I chose the portrait above in particular to look at because it was unusual and stood out from all the others. It was the portrait of the royal family in 1913 by Sir John Lavery. Its immensity was the first thing that caught my eye. It was of Prince Edward, King George V, Queen Mary and Princess Mary. The two women were sitting and the men were standing behind them. However, they did not take up the whole canvas. Most of the portrait was actually of the room. There were mirrors, chandeliers, couches, and tables. I began to focus more on the surroundings than the people in the painting. There was a window with light shinning through, casting shadows of the royal family. The corners of the room were dark. There was an open door behind the family, leading into another room. The dimensions of this portrait were fascinating and I spent a lot of time creeping through all its levels with my eyes. Another thing I noticed was the the whole family was looking forward except for Prince Edward, who was looking at his father. Again, Lavery is playing with dimensions, but this example is dealing with time. This glance that Edward is giving King George V takes the portrait out of static. Its not just right here, right now, but it is also about what is to come. I thought that was awesome.

Tags: 2010 David · Uncategorized

A Day on the Acton Diet

August 28th, 2010 · 7 Comments

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Today we visited the neighborhood of Acton about 30 minutes by tube from the Arran House. After two trains, we arrived and asked the station attendant for directions. She helped us out and added, “don’t expect much.” With that, we followed her directions and arrived at the quaint and simple Acton market. The market consisted of no more than two dozen booths selling a range of items: prepared food, produce, crafts, clothing, toys, etc. It was relatively quiet without much traffic and the people were pretty diverse, something we’ve come to expect from London in the past couple of days. The neighborhood seemed as though it served a suburban, mainly residential purpose for people of many ethnic backgrounds and ages. We didn’t really see any conspicuous tourists (other than ourselves) and we almost felt uncomfortable taking pictures of this strikingly normal place. Acton certainly isn’t a destination but it was still a pleasant place to spend an afternoon.

There wasn’t a particularly distinct ethnic feel to the market, an Indian curry seller on one side and a white lady selling apple juice on the other. The shops were likewise varied. Our walk through the market was quick and we continued on to walk explore the neighborhood. The shops and restaurants lining the streets had a similar feel to them. For example, one small restaurant offered both fish and chips and curry. We saw all of the kinds of stores you’d expect in any normal neighborhood but we did notice a number of antique stores and 99p shops. The architecture was mixed with older-style churches and row-houses next to more contemporary and basic buildings. We happened upon the neighborhood library. Upon entering the old stone building, we discovered more shelves of trashy romance novels than we’d ever experienced in a public place. They sported titles such as The Greek Prince’s Virgin Prisoner, The Sheik’s Impatient Virgin, and It Takes Three. Fine literature indeed. We continued on to walk through a really nice, green park and learned about the plight of the English Elm which has tragically fallen victim to the pervasive Dutch Elm Disease.
For lunch, we ate and drank at The Rocket, a restaurant and pub. Our very attractive but insufficiently flirtatious waitress brought us our antipasto meat and cheese plate and we gathered our ales from the bar. We sat outside for over an hour talking about the town but eventually, our conversation shifted to who we are and what we’re interested in. We noticed the European pace of our pub experience and enjoyed very much sitting and relaxing for what seemed like the first time since we arrived. The entire neighborhood had a slower pace to it than we’ve really experienced anywhere else in London. On the outskirts of the big city, things slowed way down and we were happy to experience a much less frenetic atmosphere. We took the opportunity on our return trip to have our first double-decker bus ride. We rode (on the second level, of course) one district over to Hammersmith and then hopped back on the Picadilly line to return to Goodge. Overall, we had a really pleasant day.

Tags: 2010 Daniel · 2010 David · 2010 Jessica

Discovering Tower Hill Station- David Hatzopoulos & Kaitlin Lilienthal

August 26th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Our destination was the Tower Hll tube Station. Tower Hill is in the borough of the Tower Hamlets, toward the East End of the city. From the hotel, we walked to the Goodge Street Station, located on Tottenham Court Road, and took the black Northern Line to Embankment. From there we took the green District Line to Tower Hill. The tube was not like the subway system that New York City uses. It is cleaner and less noisy. The only people talking on the train were people obviously travelling together or children. Almost none of the riders seemed to be in a rush, but they moved at a consistent, comfortable pace. This first journey took us about 25 minutes.
When we walked above ground at the Tower Hill Station, there were many things that quickly grabbed our attention. Firstly, there was a gigantic sundial. It was a monument. Across the street from the sundial platform, we could see the Tower of London built by the Normans to protect the port of London. Today it houses many exhibits of British history, including the crown jewels. Also located at the Tower Hill station is a piece of the old Roman wall, which marked the original city boundary. On the other side of the sundial platform, there was a monument dedicated to the sailors who sacrificed their lives during World War II.
The sundial has a surprising, almost hidden, meaning. Around the base, where the dial’s shadow casts down, images of London’s history are portrayed. Events such as the founding of the Tower of London in 1066, Shakespeare’s arrival in the city, the Great Fire of 1666, and the Blitz are artistically represented. The sundial is in this location because of all the history that surrounds it. The old Roman wall, the Tower Bridge, and the Tower of London attracts tourists and the sundial is a guide through the different ages of the city. Though initially we did not recognize the images around the sundial’s base, and others seemed to not notice them, people took pictures with the big dial.
Most of the people in this location seemed to be tourists. They interacted with the monuments by taking pictures of them or with them. There was an ice cream vendor on the street that drew groups of parents and children. A sign explaining why scaffolding covered parts of the tower supports the notion that this location is a large tourist attraction. The rest of the people seemed to be people traveling home from work who paid no attention to the monuments.
We took an alternate route home. This time, we traveled from the Tower Hill Station to Monument, where we switched to the red Central Line to take us back to Tottenham Court Road. This journey took us significantly longer, almost 40 minutes. This may have been caused by the start of the evening rush home from work. We noticed a lot more passengers in business dress with briefcases on the journey home. These passengers did not talk much either, but it was clear that they took the same route home routinely every day: they seemed almost robotic. Also, it was a really long walk from when we got off on the platform at Monument to the platform where we could get on the Central Line. We went down two long steep escalators, and back up two long steep escalators. Finally, the Tottenham Court Road Station is farther from Gower Street and the Arran house than Goodge Street Station.

Tags: 2010 David · 2010 Kaitlin · Uncategorized