Athens to London Day 173

It was another early morning today… 5:00 am. I’m really not at my best at that time of the morning. Neither one of us slept all that well either. The beds at our hotel are akin to what I’d imagine prison beds to feel like; way too hard and not enough blankets. It’s hot in Athens, but when you put the air conditioning on it gets frigid, so it’s nice to have a little something to pull around you if you need it. And for whatever reason, controlling the A/C is exceptionally difficult in most of the places we’ve stayed. It’s either been way too cold or not nearly cold enough. So, suffice it to say I’m looking forward to heading to London today to cozy up in a sweater and comfy duvet!
My plane left almost an hour late because of the air traffic controller strike. I’d thought it had ended the previous night at midnight, but it seems that even though they’re working, it’s just slowed down due to the problems. Hopefully Deb got away without any issues. Her plane didn’t leave until noon so she had a bit of a wait at the airport.It was a pretty clear day so I got to see Venice, Paris and The Alps from my window. I was only able to get good photos of the mountains though, I guess because they’re so high!
I took the tube into the city, which took about 45 minutes and cost five pounds. Much better than what the cab fare would have been! My hostel is right across the street from St. Paul Cathedral so it’s really central. The Tate Modern Gallery is just across the river and everything else is a short tube ride or walk away. I was pretty pooped so I had a little lay down when I got there and walked over to the Tate when I ventured out thinking it might be open late. I was so happy to see that it was and unbelievably, FREE! You don’t see that very often, especially for such a beautiful and impressive museum. The museum has some great collections of surrealists, cubists and pop art. They have an impressive photography collection as well. Photography is a funny art form, especially these days with the advent of the digital camera. I LOVE photography, but in order to capture my attention, it just has to be different in some way. I know so many struggling photographers, especially on the more arty side of the spectrum, and I think the reason is that everyone thinks they’re a photographer these days. It IS a lot easier now to take great photos with little point and shoots and digital SLR’s. Like I said in an earlier post, I can’t believe just how many people have the large cameras with the even larger lenses. They can’t all be professional. I’m thinking the vast majority are amateur. So, where does that leave the professional photographer? Weddings, babies, pets. There is still a definite need for those types of photographers, but what about the budding Ansel Adam’s out there? Where do they fit in? Well, from what I saw today, the answer in innovation. I’m not sure if a photographer can simply take a photograph of a pretty thing anymore and expect to sell or exhibit it. The images either need to be altered in some way to make them more like pieces of art, or the subject matter needs to be captivating enough to have the photographs stand on their own.
St. Paul’s Cathedral.
War memorial across the street from the cathedral. Most of the wreaths and notes were for the 9/11 anniversary.
The Millennium Bridge.
This busker was hilarious. He was singing songs that sounded like they could have been made up by Phoebe Buffet from Friends.
I liked this sign inside the Tate. I decided to celebrate my ability to walk up the stairs. You can’t take that for granted!
This is an incredible piece by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. He is an outspoken artist who was arrested by the Chinese government in April and detained for 2 months. He was released in June and is not allowed to leave Beijing. The reasons for his arrest are not clear, but it is thought to be politically motivated because Ai Weiwei has been publicly critical of things that have been happening in China and with the government. I first heard of him and his arrest on the Q podcast and was really excited that I got to see his work in person.
It looks like its just a pile of sunflower seeds, but it is in facts thousands of sunflower seeds individually handcrafted out of porcelain. Amazing.
This is an artist that I was immediately drawn to named Marcel Dzama, and he happens to be Canadian as well!
This is a painting by Mark Rothko. He’s the artist who will do a large canvas that is painted black, with a thin red line going across it. Or a canvas that is painted blue. That’s it.  It’s the kind of art that I often hear people say, “I could have painted that, how is it art?” Whenever I hear that I think, “But DID you paint that?” NO! It takes huge balls to do something so simple and stand behind it as your form of expression. I know I don’t have the confidence to scribble some lines on a page and declare it worthy of a gallery show, but obviously Mark Rothko and and other artists like him do. Art doesn’t have to represent something tangible to be art. Art can be as something as seemingly simple as some splashes of paint on a canvas, or as complex and technical as a Leonardo da Vinci.
This exhibit by Taryn Simon was fascinating. The photographs on their own are good, but in conjunction with the stories behind them it made it extremely compelling work. These are photographic family trees with their stories accompanying them. The artist traveled and researched different families in different cultures and told their stories both visually and in a narrative way. The most interesting one was of an Indian family where the son thought he was his reincarnated grandfather, so he was allocated on the family tree as both his father’s son and his father’s father.
The other exhibit I thought was great was the Roberta Breitmore series. The artist Lynn Hershman Leeson created this fictional woman who was her subject and did a series of photographs based on her. Roberta had a bank account, a library card, attended weight watchers and rented an apartment, yet she didn’t physically exist, except in the artists mind.
This is by the artist Linder. She’s famous for creating photo montages using images from womens’ magazines and pornography. This piece was used for the record cover for the band the Buzzcocks.
Andy Warhol!
Looking towards Tower Bridge from Millennium Bridge.

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One Response to Athens to London Day 173

  1. Anonymous September 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    Hi Andrea,
    Coming to the end of your trip and the end of a great accomplishment must be very emotional. I’ve been following you and enjoying your posts but in the lasts posts I really feel for you. I lived away from home for 1 1/2 years. Out of Canada. Didn’t do what you have done. Don’t know if I would have the strength!
    I also understand being at that crossroads in life. My daughter is a professional photographer leaving for a month and a half to travel in the orient. I had to talk her into taking her camera. I hope she finds inspiration-I hope you are still inspired-I hope you find your path back here in Canada as well.
    Thanks again;
    Beth

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