Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nobel Textiles (part 1)

York, Shrewsbury, and now London - and what has come to be my monthly fix in the capital. Last week was quite a busy one, so I am relishing this week, which is much more quiet, and catching up.

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.

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Blogger JL said...

My last stop was a now-defunct, dirty and dirt-cheap (8 pounds a night) hostel in Soho, sharing a room with four drunken Aussies.

And some guy who claimed he was Norwegian... but I have my doubts.

I'm hoping to return this Febraury, when the rates are cheap.

Thu Sept 25, 02:28:00 am  
Blogger Jan said...

You're lucky having that monthly fix!
As you know I LOVED staying with G+L in LOndon...
And yrs and yrs ( and yrs!) ago, I loved living/working there...I must make more effort for visits..

Sat Sept 27, 05:56:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

You're coming the UK, JL? Maybe we can meet for a coffee.

That Soho room sounds like one to miss to me - I had a similar experience in Bremerhaven. The 'hotel' had doorbells to the rooms outside and at 1 am a drunk rampaged up and down the stairs then banged on the door.

Yes, Jan, London is wonderful IMO. I just wish I lived closer - but do find I know more of it now I live far away. Strange,

Sun Sept 28, 07:50:00 pm  
Blogger aliholli said...

Loved reading this post...what is it about London that makes us feel so exhilhirated?....maybe I`m still "buzzing" from our journey down there on Sunday, moving Chris into his flat in Clapham.I`m so excited for him..(I wish I could bottle this feeling of excitement and anticipation)(with a touch of jealousy???!!!)
Yes, London...lovely. Hopefully we`ll be going more often now too.

Tue Sept 30, 12:53:00 pm  

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