Nobel Textiles (part 1)
When I lived in London, I saw little of it. Studying for a PhD in chemistry is an intense business. I used to scurry back and forth from my flat in Dulwich to my lab in King's College on the Strand, rarely going anywhere else, except for shopping for essentials in Covent Garden - the weekends filled with housekeeping and seeing chaps (well, mainly Hodmandod Senior). I didn't tend to go west of Charing Cross, and so was only dimly aware that Trafalgar Square was at the end of it. But last week this is where I stayed - just off Trafalgar Square in Northumberland House on Northumberland Avenue (the entrance marked with the subtle LSE sign above) - and if Charing Cross is the official centre of London, then this must be the most central hall of residence. I was given a room in the back, and it was quiet, clean, comfortable and, since it was university accommodation, very cheap. It even had its own tiny ensuite facilities - which were a revelation in how much plumbing can be packed into such a small space - but it worked, and I would love to stay there again.
So, at the end of the Strand is Trafalagar Square, and at the west end of Trafalgar Square is the Admiralty Arch (which must be the most magnificent entrance to a park in the world), then from the Arch runs the Mall,
and at the end of the Mall, Buckingham Palace, and all this set in the greenery of St James's Park.
And in St James's Park was the Nobel Textiles Exhibition, which I had come to see. This was set in a series of five small greenhouses, one per artist, immediately opposite the Institute of Contemporary Art
which is easy to miss but (from the Mall) is to the right of this
The Duke of York's column.
There were some great pieces here, and the project itself I found very interesting. I shall deal with each one in turn in separate posts.
As I walked around the artists and two of the Nobel scientists were there too, which was exciting. Then, as the dusk was coming, I went inside and listened to a debate. Later, came the reception, and I met Laura Nelson, a writer from the MRC, who had invited me... and also an architect and a film maker, and a couple of textile designers, so it was a good and invigorating mix. It gave me much to think about...and I am still thinking about it now.