Saturday, 2 July 2011

London in July

It's July!  Eep!  But the sun is high and there's quite a few things I'm looking forward to this month, so I thought I'd do a little "Things to do in London this month" post.  And I'll try to make it at least a bit interesting for anyone not based in London or nearby.

1. Cult of Beauty Exhibition at the V&A Museum, until 17th July

V&A foyer (courtesy of Nick Garrod)

So, I've actually already been to this but thought I'd alert those who haven't gone along yet.  The exhibition covers the Aesthetic Movement, an artistic style and lifestyle from the last decades of the Victorian era which embraced beauty for beauty's sake, at a time when society was swamped with industrialisation and capitalism.  

The exhibition gives an excellent overview of how this movement covered art, design, architecture, fashion, literature... so one could really live and breathe this philosophy if one so desired!

Naturally, I rather enjoyed looking at the architectural drawings, because I'm like that:

Design for The White House by Godwin

 ... and I really enjoyed some of the furniture:

Japanese table by Godwin

... and the clothes, and anything Oscar Wilde-related, and observing the other people in attendance...

My boss went to see it shortly after me as well, and we had an interesting debate over Frederic Leighton.  He's one of the Pre-Raphaelite artists I've had less exposure to, and I really enjoyed discovering some of his paintings there.  My boss, on the other hand, can't stand him!  He said that he thought they lacked depth but I pointed out that perhaps that was their intention - they are supposed to be purely aesthetic.  Personally, as someone very sensitive to colours, that's what really struck me about them - they were so rich and lush.  My boss understood it when I put it that way, but was personally unmoved.  

Does anyone else know and have an opinion of Leighton?

The Countess Brownlow by Leighton

We were both in agreement that most of the Pre-Raphaelite muses don't really do it for us though!  They're rather too masculine for my liking - or, are painted to look so anyway.  I prefer women to be a bit more delicate - these ones are so lusty and heavy with their lips and jaws and thighs!  However, I do like some of them when they're portrayed a bit more delicately, with their fiery element coming out in their hair, contrasted with pale skin:

Veronica Veronese by Rossetti

2. The Chap Olympiad, 16th July

Hosted by The Chap, the magazine for the modern gentlemen, this one day event takes place within the gated gardens of the oh-so-posh, oh-so-Georgian Bedford Square in Bloomsbury. 

Bedford Square, c.1913

The event has been running for several years but this will be my first time attending.  I'm very much looking forward to watching the "steeple-chasing" (racing by chaps in horse masks, jockeyed by female partners over an obstacle course) and umbrella jousting on bicycles, perhaps trying my hand at the cucumber sandwich discus and, of course, dressing up appropriately in chapette style.  

Let's just hope for fine weather!

3. Vintage Festival at Southbank, 29th-31st July

A celebration of British music, fashion, film, art, design, etc of all decades from the 1920s up to the 1980s.  Appropriately taking place at Southbank, with this year marking the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain.

Royal Festival Hall in 1951 (courtesy of Hyphen Press)

There will be bands, dance lessons, vintage make-overs (for those who, heaven forbid, show up without their hair already perfectly coiffed), fashion shows, vintage stalls selling clothes and antiques...  There's even themed boat rides happening.  Much excitement!  Although I've not yet purchased my ticket as I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the activities and music so can't decide which will be the best day to attend.  Better get my act together soon because, if the quick passage of the year so far is anything to go by, the end of July will be upon us before I know it!


  1. Love that Rossetti painting, would really like to see the exhibit at the V&A x

  2. A lot of Rossetti paintings I don't like too much, for the reason above with the too masculine women - but this one is perfect, I think! She's got a beautiful, strong face, and still so feminine.

  3. Oh, i wish i was in london,
    enjoy your summer
    keep us posted

  4. Yep! Always so much to delight the senses in London and beyond! I do like Leighton - but Waterhouse is the one who I seem to gravitate towards the most. I think that masculinity of the Pre-Raphaelite women has haunted the back of my mind - thank you for naming it. That green dress is incredibly rich! Luscious!