Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Entries Tagged as 'Amanda'

Spiritual Museums?

September 6th, 2009 · No Comments

So arriving in London two weeks ago I have dove into a world of museums, churches, and recognizable landmarks (some of these locations encompassing all three of these aspects; ie. Westminster Abbey/St Paul’s ). As I read my other classmates blogs about these locations I was less than inspired though to throw my two-sense into the conversation.  However after visiting the Sikh gurdwara I realized that discussing the architecture or the history of these churches was not what I was interested in.  Rather, my focus was on the spirituality and religious nature of these locations (or lack there of as the case may be).

I’d be crazy not to acknowledge Westmnister Abbey’s incredible architecture– the dedication to style as additions were made to the building, the multitude of famous persons from his or her particular field buried in the ground of the building.  I had the same reeling of awe walking around St. Paul’s Cathedral.  The detailed stained glass windows, the enormous dome, the ceremonial burial sites all over the building—they are images I will remember forever.  However, as I left both of those places I felt more like I was leaving a museum than a church.

Because of this feeling I decided to stay at St. Paul’s for evening song.  It was a beautiful service, but I continuously found myself distracted by the other tourists walking up and down the church looking at all of the graves.  I hoped that I would find myself in a state of spiritual prayer, but only found myself frustrated.  I had a similar reaction when I sat in on Holy Communion at Bath Abbey.  Sitting in another beautiful church, trying to take in and appreciate the holiest of sacraments and all I could focus on was the people going in and out of the attached gift shop.

While also in Bath I decided to wander down random alleys exploring the city.  It was here where I ran into St. John the Evangelist, a Roman Catholic Church.  Being the first Catholic church I had seen since arriving I decided to go in.  Assuming to find myself surrounded by graves and gift shops yet again, I was in disbelief to find myself in one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. No gimmicks. No crowds. Beautiful architecture. Amazing stained glass. And peace. I couldn’t even tell you how long I just sat there, engulfed in the church’s beauty and feeling of spirituality.

When I attended St. Patrick’s in SOHO for a service I hoped I would feel the same sense of peace I did in Bath, but was slightly disappointed not to.  I’m not sure why, but I’m hoping as I continue to investigate churches in both London and Norwich I will find a common thread in why I find some churches and temples more spiritual than others.

**I wrote this last night, and I thought it had posted. And now after visiting the Hindu temple I have even more thoughts on this subject, but will expand later. **

Tags: Amanda · Churches and Cathedrals

What is Art?

September 3rd, 2009 · No Comments

Over the past year I found myself challenged with the question, “what is art?” I spent my entire time during my class, “The Politics of the Body: History & Improvisation” , last semester, arguing that very few of the performances we were observing were “art”*. However I have broadened my opinion on this subject matter and have recently opened my eyes to new definitions of “art”.

Last spring I categorized “art” into a few major categories: dance, music, theater, paintings, and sculptures.  However as I began viewing more variations of art and have further discussed this huge question with my professors and my peers my definition of art has varied greatly.  I would still consider the standard categories of art set, however looking into more performance art I find that definition to be much more shaky.

Thinking back at some of the things I have seen around London recently I began to think especially about performances and what is “art” in these terms.  The first thing that I saw that I considered a performance was a changing of the guards that I saw near Parliament.  The planned out speeches, the floor patterns, the intricate planning that comes with these ceremonies– it’s hard not to consider them a type of performance.  There are also all sorts of styles, plans, and different organizations that plan out these ceremonies.  A performance, yes. But is it art?

The following day I was in the same general area, over near Trafalagar Square, and someone pointed out the fourth ‘incomplete’ pillar.  I had not noticed that there was always one person replacing one of the statues.  The ‘performers’ do all sorts of varying things: dancing, singing, standing still dressed as Darth Vader, hitting small objects into the crowd, etc. Depending on what these people do can you consider them performers? And if we consider them performers are they artists? Is what they’re doing art?

So I still have no real definition of “art”.  I still don’t know what I would consider “art”.  But I’m working on it, and probably will continue to struggle with it for quite some time.

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*I am choosing to refer to art in quotes, beause this entire post is an arguement (with no real conclusion) about what one could consider “art”.

Tags: Amanda

You Know You Love Us…

September 1st, 2009 · No Comments

Hey there, Patsy and Amanda Girl here, your one and only source into the the scandalous lives of Londons elite,

(aka Dickinson college Norwich Humanities students)

In the last few days we have made quite the dent in our list of required activities. Instead of blogging after each trip, we decided to collaborate our ideas and opinions within in one “museum” post.

At this particular time we have gone to both the British Museum and the Cabinet War Rooms/ Churchill Museum. What we would like to do, is continue to add information about required museums to this post during the remainder of our time in London.

Although Amanda cheated and already wrote about the British Museum, we will further our analysis of this great house of stolen goods in this post. After a morning of strolling over eroding bodies, we found a glorious pizza joint and indulged ourselves with BBQ chicken pizza and a meaty calzone. Realizing we ate our body weight in food, we decided to return the Bloomsburry area to change for the gym. Needless to say our intentions were not strictly academic so, to get back on track, we agreed to visit the British Museum before our workout.

Our first impressions of the museum held true to Professor Qualls’s notion that to see everything would take a full day. After searching for a map, we began our search through the main level. In order to refrain from repeating what everyone has already written about this museum we have decided to note only our specific interests. We found that our two favorite exhibits were the table displaying rows and rows of pills, and the Greek Parthenon. Our initial thought was that the British were very lucky to have such precious and historical artifacts for any average person to view. However, after walking through each room, we realized that a such an extensive collection, from all over the world did in fact represent how powerful the British empire was.  Are we ones to judge how these artifacts came into the possession of Britian ? We don’t think so, but it is fascinating to attempt to understand England’s direct relationship with countless foreign countries.

This is a perfect transition to our visit to the Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum. Before we entered the museum, we happened to stumble upon the traditional changing of the guards ceremony. Lets just say we became mildly afraid of fancy uniforms, big horses, and yelling. After our wild encounter with the guards, and a few stops to admire our surroundings, we walked over to the museum. We paid our admission fee and began our journey through this underground world. We were very impressed by the museums state, and became intrigued by the history of the Blitz, (luckily the next day we were informed by our class in Regent Park). We came to an exit, feeling mildly unimpressed with how short it was, and then realized we hadn’t seen the Churchill Museum. We then ventured upstream back to the museum.

The Churchill Museum is exactly that, a memorial museum to Winston Churchill that, depending on you attention span, can captivate you for quite a while. We both agreed that the overall construction of the museum was one of its most appealing characteristics. Its shape, lighting,  and interactive activities provide entertainment for a wide age range. We were most amused by the time line in the center of the room that, when touched, displayed data from days of Churchill’s life.

Although these two museums, for the most part, have absolutely nothing in common, they both demonstrate critical and influential aspects of British history. Each museum we visit solidifies the idea that Britain is always evolving. Not only its people, but its ideas as beliefs as well.

By the way, the Gym down the street, Oasis, is not a gym! We were dressed and ready but it was nothing. Disappointed?

Some things never change, London better love us.


Patsy and Amanda Girl

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Tags: Amanda · Patsy

A Conversation with your Feet

August 30th, 2009 · No Comments

After sitting in Regent Park for a couple of hours of classroom discussion I was ready to get out and move.  All weekend at the National Theater “Watch this Space” was hosting a dance event, and so I threw on my leggings and I was off. Upon arriving there was a jive performance going on.  There were people young and old, of all races intermingling and uniting all in one song, in one movement.  Because I went by myself I didn’t get to dance, but I was immediately pulled into the vibe and the motion.  There were people who were prepared for the dance, with their dancing shoes on. As the music ended they began to set up for a modern dance performance.  I grabbed a mat right up front and waited for the show to start.

Over the past two years I have had the opportunity to view many types of dance ranging from modern, to contemporary, to hip-hop, to classical ballet, so I felt I was pretty well prepared to view the piece.  Although StopGap describe themselves as, “modern, vintage “Britishness”, humor, and eccentric humor.” There are very slight distinctions between contemporary/modern/post-modern, and I personally think that the differences are more of an individual opinion.  ChocksAway incorporated audience interaction, improvisation, talking, and some synchronized movements.  It was similar to other modern pieces I have seen in the past, but it’s always a wonderful opportunity to see free, new choreography. After the StopGap performance I wandered around the National Theater and enjoyed some photography.  There was an exhibit focusing on the 2008 Summer Olympics as a preparation for the 2012 games.

StopGap performing ChocksAway

Later that evening I returned to the National Theater, but this time with dancing partners.  I had too much trouble standing still while everyone around me was moving and so we were ready for our tango lesson.  I had taken a tango class a few years back, but I didn’t remember anything so we were all starting fresh.  (And for the first time I didn’t have to lead!) I was thrilled that everyone seemed to enjoy him or herself, because for most of our group this was their first experience in a real dance environment.

For me dance isn’t just about the steps, but it’s about the conversation with ones dance partner.  It’s about a connection with your body, and for many in a dance like the tango, or salsa, or jive it’s is a connection with your partner’s body too.  I love the joy and the satisfaction that comes with the beat and the rhythm, and just the movement of the body.  I am filled with excitement every time I interact with dance, or see dance.  I am looking forward to seeing what other dance opportunities this city has to offer.

Tags: Amanda

Ladies, please do not touch ANYTHING

August 26th, 2009 · No Comments

After spending all morning viewing the beautiful architecture of The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster (or Westminster Abbey) I decided to take advantage of two hot spots close to the hotel; the British Museum and Oasis Health Club.  Unfortunately the latter was closed to the general public, but I was still lucky enough to journey over to the British Museum.

Upon walking into the museum I was immediately taken aback by the vast size of the lobby. I couldn’t possibly imagine what was beyond the walls of the entrance, but we grabbed a map and decided to plot out our route.  After simply staring at the map for a few minutes Patsy and I noticed a section at the bottom that said, “Make the most of your visit” followed by a series of objects spread out throughout the museum.  We decided that this would probably be our best bet and we were off.
We journeyed through the rooms and experienced some of the oldest objects from Egypt, Rome, Greece, and China, just to name a few, but despite the numerous countries represented in the British Museum objects from the United Kingdom did not appear to be present in any of the rooms of the museum.  For so many years England was a major powerhouse in the world and was able to collect these valued and ancient items from all over the world.  I was anticipating that when I took trips to these neighboring nations that I would be able to see these detailed objects and to take a step further into the ancient world, but with the British Museum hosting so many of these notable items I could hardly contain myself as I stepped closer to marble statues of Roman gods.  I reached out and slowly rubbed my fingers against the cold stone, but apparently that’s not allowed (there really should have been better signage in the area..) and so as we ventured through the rest of the museum I made sure to keep my hands behind my back so as not to be tempted to touch the objects again (really I felt like a little kid, with so much history surrounding me and just wanting to touch it! And I typically do not get excited about museums.)

Because of the vast size of the museum, and the number of objects on the, “Make the most of your visit” list we were only able to get through about half of the objects.  But I am excited to return to the museum and to finish moving through the rest of the museum.

Tags: Amanda

The Art of the Docklands

August 23rd, 2009 · 1 Comment

From the minute we moved into the “London, Sugar, and Slavery” section of the Docklands Museum I think we all knew it was going to be something different; something unlike other things we typically see when at a museum.  Being a very visual person I was immediately drawn to a video that began as we entered the area.  The film was the reading of a diary of an enslaved African (as the Dockland Museum’s terminology sign stated it would refer to slaves as).  Images of different people mouthing the words of his diary flashed across the screen along with other scenic and touristy images of London, as a man’s voice spoke it and the words of the entry scrolled along the bottom.  The letter ended with the final words, “someday I hope this will all end, and we will all be free.”  I simple wish of a man who could do nothing besides hope for the best in the future.

Keeping that video in mind I strolled through the remainder of the exhibit reading the signs and refreshing my memory of what I have learned about slavery in the past.  But when I got to the end of the exhibit I immediately stopped in my tracks.  The final wall in this area as entitled “Loss & Liberty” and featured modern ceramic artwork paired with poetry.

Loss & Liberty

Loss & Liberty

I moved through the artwork and poems slowly, taking in each one as it came.  The Caribbean rose, the faces of strained men and women, and the repetition of these images returned my thoughts to the video from the beginning of the exhibit.  The repeated modern images and the eloquent words of the enslaved African from the past, paralleled with the ceramics and the words of current men who have experienced, have heard, or are experiencing similar thoughts and feelings as the man did writing in his diary in the 1700s. At that moment the exhibit all came together for me in a world of history, art, and culture all uniting, blurring, and mixing– into one.

To read more about my time in London/UEA and to see more pictures visit: http://amandaepower.blogspot.com/

Tags: Amanda · Museums

A Dickinsonian Instant Favorite: Camden Town

August 22nd, 2009 · No Comments

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We arrived at the Camden Town markets around 9:30, after learning that the markets open around 10. In a matter of a half hour, we had found at least 4 different kinds of markets. The first one we explored was the Camden Market, a simple and small market with many snarky T-shirts and punk-rock items. All of us had expected this market to be like the markets you read about in books. Instead of the farmer’s market image with the stands of fresh fruits and vegetables, we were surprised to see many basic retail and punk-rock items. Only a few minutes there were needed. Across the street, was the Inverness Street Market which was smaller and consisted of the produce and tourist stands. However a quick turn put us at the base of the beautiful Camden Lock.

An enchanting bridge provided a pathway into the next part of the Camden market scene. These next three markets: Camden Lock, Interchange and Stable were connected with some indoor, some outdoor, and some both. Camden Lock and Interchange were outdoors and consisted of mostly food stands. Stable, our favorite, was a gigantic, mostly indoor market focusing on vintage clothing and antiques but with different vibes and from different cultures. We were surprised to observe that in the markets there was very little diversity amongst the shoppers. There were mostly white, British, young and middle-age shoppers, hardly any families or other ethnicities. The shops themselves though, were diverse in tastes and products from a Middle Eastern furniture store with beautiful chess sets to Cyberdog, a futuristic-themed clothing and accessory store. At one point there were also 6 restaurants in a row, ranging from Japanese, Indonesian, Mexican, BBQ, Indian, and Italian.

Since the tube stop was packed with people coming off, a quick turn onto a side street revealed a quieter neighborhood with few people about. This could mean that the patrons of these markets are not from Camden town and perhaps that many Londoners are drawn to it as a mecca of the trendy, funky, and diverse.

Having heard so much about Camden Town we were looking forward to spending the day browsing the markets.  However, we found that 3 hours was sufficient to get the feel of the area and its visitors.

Tags: Aidan · Alli · Amanda · Markets

London Day One Adventures

August 21st, 2009 · No Comments

We started off our first adventure in London by taking a boat ride down the Thames River.  It was the first time I really felt like I was IN LONDON. Seeing the London Eye and Big Ben from a distance, really set me into reality.  As we rode down the river it was fascinating to see the old architecture and homes along the river.  Upon arriving in Greenwich we walked through the park and arrived at the Prime Meridian. After straddling the line so I was in two hemispheres at once, and wandering around the museums we decided to take advantage of the planetarium.  After more walking around Greenwich and having lunch (which despite my picky eating habits was surprisingly delicious), I went with a small group to the Queens House.

To me the most impressive thing about the Queens House was the size and the architecture. Wandering from room to room I couldn’t even focus on the paintings that covered the walls, I was shocked by the beauty of the crown molding and wainscoting.  And it continued from room to room to room. As we left Greenwich we walked through the tunnel that went under the Thames and took the railroad to the Tube and took the Tube home.

I felt that the boat ride down the Thames was a good introduction to London seeing some of the major sight-seeing sites, I’m looking forward to seeing more though. I enjoyed hearing about the area of Greenwich, but what I’m especially looking forward to is seeing some modern art, dance, and plays. I know it’s coming, and I know I need to seek it out and I can’t wait!CIMG1639CIMG1614

Tags: Amanda