London is not a place we visit often these days, although the coach ride is only just over two hours. A couple of weekends ago we mustered the energy to go, in order to see the Matisse Cut Outs exhibition at Tate modern.
The scale and colour of the exhibition was large, exciting and joyful. The video clips of the artist at work showed his enthusiasm and delight in exploring a form which brought together the texture and 3D quality of sculpture, with the colour and movement of painting. Both the process and product was akin to dancing or music making. To me it felt all the more wonderful because this was art produced when Matisse himself was struggling with the constraints of ageing and declining bodily health, and yet was able to break through the physical barriers to express a transcendent vibrancy.
There were a lot of people in the exhibition, in spite of the timed tickets, and at times I found it quite difficult to see and focus on the exhibits properly. It took effort and concentration, and we were glad of a coffee and chocolate ice cream at the end!
We ate lunch overlooking the Thames, by Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, and later crossed the Millenium bridge, with views encompassing ancient and modern buildings. On to and beyond St Paul’s cathedral encountering more people, current art and culture en route, to the Museum of London where we were confronted with the span of human life on this site from prehistoric to modern times.
Just as in the Matisse exhibition itself, I found it exciting, stimulating and confusing to spend time in such a vast, historic and cosmopolitan city. Experiencing the vibrant life all around, a colourful, diverse, and multilayered collage of humanity, is demanding and even hard work!
But it was a good day out – we were reminded of the enduring qualities of human art, architecture, literature and spirituality, amidst wars, fires and plagues, and we managed to survive the frustrating confused muddle, crowds and noise of Victoria Station!