I also headed to the Dulwich Picture Gallery, for my second Art Pass freebie. John Soane's building is the star, now over 200 years old, but the permanent collection inside is pretty fabulous too. I'll not detain you by discussing the paintings, but I will tell you what it was like to be the only art-going visitor.
Only Visitor: Hello. Bloke on Front Desk: Ah, you have an Art Pass. I would ask you to stump up £8 extra for our special galleries, but I'm afraid we're 'between exhibitions' at the moment. Only Visitor: No problem. Bloke on Front Desk: Hang on while I print you a ticket saying £0.00. Only Visitor: (wanders around gallery looking at art) Curator: You two, this way please, through the shop. First Bloke In Overalls: (walks past, wheeling part of the previous exhibition on a trolley in boxes labelled Fragile) Second Bloke In Overalls: (ditto) Only Visitor: (spots roomful of boxed-up artworks behind curtain) First Gallery Assistant: (chats inaudibly to Second Gallery Assistant) Second Gallery Assistant: (chats inaudibly to First Gallery Assistant) Third Gallery Assistant: Oh hello, I'm here now, am I due on? Only Visitor: (dodges more trolleys of departing canvases) Events Manager: Let me show you round to see if this is the right venue for you. Would-be Event Organiser: Thanks. Events Manager: We can seat 120 people down the main gallery using a very long table. You can't serve alcohol near the paintings, so we have a red line where guests have to put their glasses down on a table. We have an approved list of suppliers. The building makes a lovely backdrop to photos, but flash photography isn't allowed. Would-be Event Organiser: Do you have availability at Christmas? Blokes In Overalls: (more trolleys are ejected) Trio of Gallery Assistants: (further inaudible chatter) Shop Manager: (tidies up shelf absolutely nobody is buying anything from) Only Visitor: (finishes wandering around gallery looking at art) Only Visitor: Thanks. Bloke on Desk: Hmpf. Only Visitor: (tries to work out where the toilets are) Two Workmen: (busy using midwinter recess to remodel cafe interior and all worksurfaces) Only Visitor: (approaches temporary cafe) Lady In Temporary Cafe: (stands, hoping Only Visitor will buy some carrot cake, a boxed sandwich or machine coffee from the tiny display) Only Visitor: (enters toilets instead) Lady In Temporary Cafe: (sits down again) Only Visitor: Well the art was wonderful, I wonder when the next bus is. Curator: Roll on 13th February when the Norwegian exhibition kicks off and the visitors come back.