diamond geezer

 Thursday, April 21, 2005

Excursion 7: Whitechapel Art Gallery
After a tough day's campaigning up Brick Lane, why not drop in at the Whitechapel Art Gallery for a little culture? It's free, and you never quite know what you'll find inside. Back in 1939, for example, you might have seen Picasso's Guernica, whereas yesterday's offering was a collection of amateur films made by Polish factory workers in the Communist era. The audience for one home movie about the glorious harvest was very small indeed, whereas rather more people appeared to be lurking in the dark behind a different set of curtains watching a giant socialist nipple. Upstairs, thankfully, the comic art of Robert Crumb was rather more to my tastes. His politically incorrect sketches were grounded in the mundane, rather like the comic doodles you might have scribbled in an exercise book as a child only infinitely better realised. And observing those present pondering each frame with the reverence normally afforded to classic art, that was highly entertaining as well (closes 22nd May).
by tube: Aldgate East   by bus: 25, 205

Excursion 8: Geffrye Museum
Why go to IKEA when you can visit a row of converted almshouses in Hackney? IKEA force you to walk through a series of carefully arranged rooms showcasing all their latest furniture before finally depositing you in their shop and cafe. The Geffrye Museum may still have the shop and cafe at the end, but the initial stroll through its 12 period rooms is considerably more inspiring. You move from the early 17th century to the present day, each interior showcasing the typical middle class furniture and design of the era. The mid 1800s reminded me how crass the Victorians could be, while the 1930s living room evoked deep-seated memories of my grandparents' crockery and glassware. A recent extension to the museum currently houses two very different chair-related exhibitions. I enjoyed the display of highly original contemporary seating but a whole room of "English Regional Chairs" was stretching things too far. The museum is complemented by a series of historical gardens at the rear - not especially well looked after but the intention is good. And the whole place easily beats IKEA, particularly on creativity and value for money. Geffrye - historical solutions for better living.
by tube: Hoxton (opens 2010)   by bus: 67, 149, 242, 243

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