London is VERY expensive. Lucky for me, my lovely brother sent me this text:
Just transferred £15 to your account for you to have a treat!! Whisky, takeaway, book, very cheap stripper, you choose.
I dread to think what kind of fella would be willing to take his clothes off for me for £15; what I do know is, these days, he’s unlikely to do it for free
The thing I’ve found most expensive is food; until, that is, I found a shop down the road selling 3 packets of Jammie Dodgers for £1 – which is pretty good considering they only expired 3 days ago. Now, I realise a girl can’t live on Jammie Dodgers alone; so, never fear, I also have some Fish Oil caps infused with Vitamin D, so my hair will be shiny and I won’t get Rickets.
The other thing about London is it’s filled with possibilities. For example, my evening ended with an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony on a rooftop in Marble Arch. But I’m getting ahead of myself; first I had a day at Summer School.
This morning we made collages in honour of Matisse. I love Matisse – as much for his art as for the man himself. He was gentle and refined and devoted to his wife and children. This is in complete contrast to his artistic contemporary and rival, Picasso; who, while an incredible artist, was a dirty rotten scoundrel when it came to women and a deadbeat Dad to his children.
Matisse took art seriously and was relentless in his pursuit of artistic excellence all his life. Even towards the end of it – when his eyesight was failing and he could no longer paint – he spent his days cutting up bits of coloured paper and made pictures that way. The results were further evidence that he was, indeed, an artistic genius; a fact even Picasso admitted to, when he said of him:
“There is only Matisse.”
So, that’s what we spent our morning doing – cutting up bits of coloured paper and making pictures out of them. Here is my effort:
We then spent the afternoon at the British Museum. We went there to look at some collages by a Lady called Mary Delaney, who made these amazing flower pictures with cut-out bits of paper. They were very impressive, especially since she only began making them in her 60’s. Her goal was to make 1000 before she died. Unfortunately, she pegged out at 980.
After that, we could wander around the Museum and look at whatever we wanted. I didn’t want to look at anything, as there were about 5 million people in there. As I made my way to the front exit, I noticed a little room on the left hand-side that had a huge lyre hanging in it. I decided to have a wee look and, by some miracle I was the only one in there. As I stood before the Lyre, I heard the most beautiful tinkling sound, which turned out to be the jingling of all the little trinkets hanging on it, which had been put there by the owner to appease the spirits.
It turned out, it was a very special sort of Lyre, used in Zar ceremonies in the Sudan. Although played by men, a Zar ceremony is for women – a kind of healing/exorcism type rite. A possessed woman is helped by a priestess known as a Shaykha and is placed in a trance by the Lyre playing. Once in the trance, the woman then engages in activities that are usually forbidden: i.e. dancing wildly, dressing in men’s clothing and acting aggressively towards men – giving them a piece of her mind. Understandably, it is a very popular ceremony, despite both Christianity and Islam trying to stamp in out.
On my way back to the Hall of Residence, I had the good fortunate to find the house where the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was formed. The Pre-Raphaelites (pictured below) were a trio of renegade painter/poets in the mid 1800’s. They favoured lush, colour saturated paintings, with lots of detail and complex compositions, which predated Raphael and the rigorous, academic art that followed him.
According to Wikipedia, the Brotherhood was founded on 4 core principles:
1. Have genuine ideas to express;
2. Study Nature attentively, to know how to express them;
3. Sympathise with what is direct, serious and heartfelt in previous art.
4. Produce thoroughly good pictures and statues.
Once back at the Hall, I had a quick tidy up of my shambled self and headed off to West London Synagogue. I am taking a course there that I usually do by Skype, but seeing I am in London I was able to attend in person. As always, the lesson was brilliant – thanks to the very knowledgeable, Rabbi Sybil. Afterwards, I attended a party on the roof of the Synagogue, where there was great music, delicious food and lovely people. The highlight of the evening was an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony performed by Rabbi Sybil.
All and all it was a wonderful day. Indeed, the best so far!