Free day around London - Tate Britain and MORE elephants!

London Travel Blog

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The National Portrait Gallery

This morning felt like a very London morning after years of visiting it. It was gloomy, and cloudy, and looked like it could start raining. Right from the time I arrived in London for phase 1 of the trip, I had discovered that the Indian Portrait was showing @ the National Portrait Gallery and I wanted to see it. So that was the first call of the day.

The gallery, my first time visiting it is really nice - but really the same old. I started off with the free exhibits on the 3 floors, my favourite being the ground floor with modern art, and photos of people still living. I saw the cover the Blur album from a decade ago and was quite surprised to see it so high, and that it was considered a "masterpiece".

The exhibition I went to
I then walked to the Indian Portrait exhibit. This was Mughal based, basically focussed on the 16th century time when Akbar was ruling, and how he brought in European artists to paint portraits, and the "style" they introduced, and how that affected Indian art going forward. I was very impressed with all the paintings, and normally whilst I'm impatient with galleries, I read the description of each and every painting. I could only be surprised. Kudos to the museum for bringing in and assembling the portraits.

From there, I went to the basement to view the Singh Twins' paintings. They are a pair of Punjabi female twins from Liverpool who've documented (in a modern way), pictures of Indian life, Indian life in Britain and some political statements as well (Blair and Bush).

The Singh twins' display in the basement
It had started raining now. Not in a heavy way, but more of a slight constant drizzle in a British kind of way! I started walking towards Westminster, and I spotted more elephants on the way! (The is raising Asian elephant extinction awareness by planting 245 colourful exhibits all over London). The 4 I saw here were named after the 4 finalists of the IPL this year.

Stopped for lunch en route to Westminster, Westminster was Westminster - lovely and crowded as usual. The idea this time wasn't so much to meander around this area, but to actually walk from here to Vauxhall Bridge as, again, this was smething I'd never done before. The walk was lovely, I passed by Lambeth Palace and the Garden Museum and did think of going to both, but they were both terribly expensive and decidd to give it a pass.

The finalists of the IPL
The Garden Museum in particular, housed in a fab church looked terribly boring as well. LOL!

The walk was lovely including the pleasant drizzle (just Murphy's law though, the only day it rains in London and that's the day I leave my raincoat and waterproof camera case in the hostel!). I reached Tate Britain around 3pm and this is a nice place. I did find it a lot like Tate Modern. For some reason, I always thought that this would be an "ancient" Tudory or Victorian portrait collection. But for the most part, it had the most interesting modern art. Few that come to mind was this series of pictures taken of a clock with different exposure times, and how the clock looks different. But the best exhibit here, or for that matter ,the best I've seen anywhere was the Coral Reef by Mike Nelson.

This isn't a painting, it's a series of desolate rooms - untidy, things thrown about like old calendars, torn sofas, etc in a really unkempt way, each door leads to another... I kept going through various rooms thinking "WTF is this" until I realised the idea - I was lost! That's what this exhibit aims at doing, it aims at making you feel as lost and helpless and lonely as the exhibits! Genius. What else can I say! I was very very impressed.

I browsed through the rest of the free art and left the museum around 4pm hoping to visit Highgate Cemetary. I went to the Archgate Tube stop but I was supposed to take a bus from there, it was 415pm and pouring now, and the cemetary closes at 5pm. I really didn't think it was worth it. So essentially I went back into town.

I wanted to continue my adventure of elephants hunting, and proceeded to the Tower Bridge.

Cliched shot, but again, a classic one
Actually in part, thanks to a blog in Travbuddy where I saw the elephants. I had a field day taking pictures despite the rain, the elephants' colours looked so nice with the sombre grey in the background.

I got off at Bond St, bought chocolates @ thornton's, and caught the tube again to Picadilly Circus to visit Waterstones. I'd heard so much about it being the largest bookstore in EU (and one of my friends from Seattle visits it regularly). It's actually a nice bookshop, I went to the language section on the 3rd floor to look for some French books and found some good ones, just that I found them pricey and I wasn't sure whether I could get it for a cheaper fee in the US (well I couldn't, but that's a different story). I spent about 1 hour here, I needed the time to unwind.

National Gallery
I was also very impressed with their ground floor travel section with all those London books. Some were really nice, in hindsight I wish I'd picked them up.

Went back to Oxford Street to Topman for a last round of shopping, didn't find anything. And caught the tube back home. Oh, I mean hostel. Packed, and went to the nearby Falafel shop for some nice spicy falafal rolls. And did my usual "night" thing by surfing email till the store closed at 1130pm. I got back that night, chatted with a few folks and slept by midnight, with the alarm set for 6am the next day.

Vikram says:
I loved counting them in the areas i found them, was fun!
Posted on: Jun 14, 2010
Dr_Seuss says:
Daughter was down in London, while we were in Norway,and found 46 of the elephants
Posted on: Jun 14, 2010
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The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The exhibition I went to
The exhibition I went to
The Singh twins display in the ba…
The Singh twins' display in the b…
The finalists of the IPL
The finalists of the IPL
Cliched shot, but again, a classic…
Cliched shot, but again, a classi…
National Gallery
National Gallery
The new wave of buses coming to En…
The new wave of buses coming to E…
All roads lead to...
All roads lead to...
Queens walk, Southwark
Queen's walk, Southwark
Just a random cool poster I saw wh…
Just a random cool poster I saw w…
Cliched shot, but doesnt ever get…
Cliched shot, but doesn't ever ge…
Vauxhall bridge with a bunch of ug…
Vauxhall bridge with a bunch of u…
Tate Britain
Tate Britain
By far the coolest exhibit Ive …
By far the coolest "exhibit" I've…
Save the elephants @ Tower Bridge
"Save the elephants" @ Tower Bridge
One of my favourite shots - the gl…
One of my favourite shots - the g…
a Hindu elephant
a Hindu elephant
photo by: ulysses