Summer School – Day 3

Today we had to make a collage in a box. The course materials list said we would need a box; however, I thought it meant, a box to put all our stuff in, so that’s what I bought, one of those filing boxes with the hinge clamp. As it turned out, we needed was a box to make a collage in. Never mind, I tipped out my stuff, whipped out the clamp and made do; trouble is, now have nothing to put my stuff in.

The stuff

The stuff

You may not know this, but making a collage in a box is exhausting. Actually, making any kind of art is exhausting, if you’re doing it for 8hrs straight. Although I always aim to paint that much each day, it’s broken up into 3 sessions spread out over the day. Plus, I paint very very slowly. Indeed, the energy I expend painting is probably equivalent to rolling over in bed. Plus, in a class setting, there are people constantly looking at what you are doing, so the pressure is on not to make crap.

After my exhausting day, I decided to take a stroll around Bloomsbury, to clear my head. The Hall of Residence I am staying in is on Tavistock Square – which has a lovely park in the middle of it; there is also a park one street over called Gordon Square. These two squares were once home to the Bloomsbury Group; who were a group of writers, artist and poets. I think there was even an economist among them; which makes sense considering they are often idealists.

bloomsbury-group

The Bloomsbury Group

The most famous of the group was Virginia Wolf – playwright and poet – who tragically drowned herself in the Ouse River, Sussex, when she was 59. I trawled both parks looking for her memorial, but couldn’t find it. I did however find the following:

Tavistock Square

Mahatma Ghandi

Memorial to Mahatma Ghandi

Gandy studied law and trained as a Barrister at University College London in 1888, which is located in Bloomsbury and, of which, the Slade is part of.

Memorial to the victims of Hiroshima

Memorial to the victims of Hiroshima

I am not quite sure of the connection with the area; but, personally, I think there should be one in every park, as it is, without doubt, one of the most horrendous things human beings have ever done or had to endure.

Monument to Conscientious Objectors

Memorial to Conscientious Objectors

I found this monument very moving. I realise it is a contentious issue; but, personally, I think it is noble to refuse to kill another human being. What would happen if everyone refused to go to war? Well, we’d be at peace…provided the other side felt the same; therein lies the trickiness of the situation. Still, objecting conscientiously is no picnic and, I think, a memorial to those folk do is very fitting.

Tavistock Square has also received notoriety in modern times – as the site of the 7/7 bombings – in which 13 people lost their lives. This year was the 10th anniversary and, I have to say, it felt sad and eerie to see the remaining tributes. Such senseless and calculated destruction is beyond words.

Site of the 7/7 bus bombing.

Site of the 7/7 bus bombing.

Gordon Square

The Gordon Square park was full of people, just lolling about after work. Despite what I’d learned in Tavistock Square, it struck me how mostly peaceful people are. While strolling around, I came across the following:

Memorial to Noor Inayat Khan

Memorial to Noor Inayat Khan

A Special Operations Executive during the war, Khan infiltrated into occupied France, but was captured and executed at Dachau Concentration Camp. According to the memorial, her last word was “Liberte.” She is memorialised in the park because, at one time, she lived close by and used to spend time in the park in quiet contemplation.

Memorial to Rabindranath Tagore

Memorial to Rabindranath Tagore

An Indian Poet and Philosopher, Tagore was the first Nobel Laureate from Asia.

So it is that Bloomsbury is a place of contrasts: on the one hand it is creatively vibrant and thrives with the intellectual life of the university. On the other hand, it’s memorials to human travesties, and the tragedy it has itself seen, make it a place of sober reflection.

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