Speedy’s Café

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As ardent fans of BBC’s Sherlock, Rae and I ate breakfast at Speedy’s Café. Considering the fact that I live 3 minutes away, it is a disaster that I have not done so earlier…!

The café has reached world-wide fame and become an off-beat tourist attraction for Sherlock pilgrims. As you can see, Rae and I are no different…

Here’s me enjoying a hearty English Breakfast and bracing myself for a day of shopping:

Rae went for the “Speedy’s Breakfast”, consisting of eggs, toast, bacon, a burger and chips:

The café is slightly worn and shabby, but it definitely has its charm! And the breakfast portions were large and reasonably priced!

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Houses of Parliament

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A few days ago, Valerie, Brittany, Rae and I went to the Houses of Parliament. It is open to all members of the UK public and overseas visitors, and here you can enter the House of Lords and the House of Commons to observe debates behind glass screens, and also climb the famous clock tower to see Big Ben from the inside (which is something I must do this spring!). If you are a UK resident, you can also access question time with the Prime Minister every day at noon.

Here we are, queuing up to visit the House of Commons. Notice Big Ben in the background:

Inside the grand entrance hall:

We went into the green House of Commons. You probably recognize it from several pictures and films, most recently “The Iron Lady” with Meryl Streep. When we got there the PM has sadly already left, however we did get to observe (what I thought was) an interesting debate on the EU financial treaty and Britain’s position within the EU. Fascinating that such a powerful country is run from such a small room:

For comparison’s sake, here you have the much grander House of Lords:

Rae taking in the general splendour of Parliament:

After sitting in the House of Commons for an hour and feeling rather politically and socially engaged, it was time for some dim sum at Ping Pong:

BBC Television Studios

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This week I have had my good friend Rae over for a visit, and seeing that she works for the news in Norway, we figured it would be interesting to take a tour of the BBC for comparison’s sake…and not to mention because we are both great fans of the BBC and British television in general! The BBC studios are located just outside the White City tube station four miles west of central London.

We felt very cool and important with our BBC visitor’s badges:

Dr. Who anyone?

Some of the oldest parts of the building date back to the 1960’s and are grade II listed, such as this “star entrance”:

We were taken around the news rooms and some of the studio sets. We were sadly not allowed to take pictures in there, but we did get to take pictures inside some of the empty studios and the changing rooms:

At the end of the tour, we got to experience what it is like being on television, and we participated in a fake “game show”. Rae won and got a book about the BBC. I got a pen…

We had a lovely afternoon, and I have kept my BBC badge…in case it can get me into places…

Late Night Opening @ V&A

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I love London museum lates – they make for such a lovely alternative to clubbing, especially when you are in your 3rd year and cannot really be bothered with drinking and dancing into the AM’s anymore. Friday is probably the biggest museum night, and every last Friday of the month, the V&A hosts themed evenings with live events, foods, cocktails and special displays.

Yesterday night was all about flappers, jazz and sparkling things, in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the associated exhibition “Bright Young Things” featuring royal photographs by Cecil Beaton. Joining Valerie and her friend Brittany, I spent yesterday evening getting lost in the mesmerizing labyrinth of sheer beauty that is the V&A…

Val’s emotional first encounter with a real Oscar. Given to Annie Lennox for “Into the West”:
You know what to do next Friday…

My dissertation synopsis

As you are well aware, we are all third years trying to produce an intelligent 10,000 word BA dissertation, and as expected, we are all lagging behind like the generations of final year students before us. As I am a HAMS student (History of Art w/ Material Studies), my dissertation must revolve around something related to art and materiality and/or conservation and/or museum practices. Being an art historian by day and digital painter at night, I decided that my dissertation would combine the two.

This is my synopsis as of December 13th 2011 – I am starting to deviate from it slightly, but our tutors said that is expected as our research progresses…

DIGITAL PAINTING: VISUALITY VERSUS MATERIALITY

This dissertation will consider digital artworks and what happens to the concept of “the original” once an artwork exists on a file as a series of coded numbers rather than as a tangible, physical object. (In this context, the term “digital art” will only include paintings created digitally using computer software). There have been several recent debates on whether or not one can legitimately address aesthetic issues without to some extent addressing the medium. Some argue that art needs to be studied under a broader term of “visual culture” in which it is seen as a process of ideology, whereas others state that it is impossible to assess a work solely as a visual artefact without also discussing material questions which are closely linked to artistic practice and processes. I will place digital painting practice within this context, discussing it in relation to Jean Baudrillard’s writings on simulacra, and consider these artworks as visual artefacts without material originals. I will further argue that despite their lack of physicality, artistic practices form an intrinsic part of these non-material paintings, the inside space of the computer software being a place in which virtual and physical spaces intersect.

Seeing that it is currently reading week, I am hoping to do a proper push on my dissertation, as it has been severely ignored in between…all the other stuff I’ve felt like doing instead. But with my cup of tea, I am feeling slightly motivated again. I am actually going to do a really bold thing now, and start writing a 1st draft. I am not nearly done with my research, and I know it is a ludicrous way of going about, but I will do it anyway. Our teachers want us to write a structured “skeleton” before proceeding with anything else, and I will be following their advice –  but my mind works in the sense that I need to start writing large bits here and there in order to understand where I really want to go with my essays. I can’t keep all the information neatly placed in my head, nor do I know exactly what I want to argue for or against unless I write it down. And as this is supposed to be the culmination of my academic career so far, I don’t want it to be a disastrous failure…

Love, lust and courtship in the style of Rousseau

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It is Valentine’s Day, and at UCL Art Museum we are feeling romantic! However, did you know that Jean Jacques Rousseau found time to be romantic as well? Yes indeed he did – somewhere in between promoting the natural state and inspiring the leaders of the French Revolution.

This week, as part of our current exhibition “Rousseau 300”, we are focusing on his epistolary novels, most notably “La Nouvelle Heloise” which became a predecessor to the Romantic Novel. Pop by the museum to read some extracts, and be inspired to share your own love declarations on our pinboard!

Read more in our blog: http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/museums/2012/02/14/love-lust-and-courtship-in-the-style-of-rousseau/#more-8024

Valerie’s 21st: Part 2 (Mahiki)

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On the evening of the 10th it was time to continue Valerie’s 21st birthday celebrations, and for the highlight we had all been waiting for we went to the very elegant Mahiki in Mayfair for lots of dancing and tiki cocktails! As we are third years now, most of us hadn’t been out partying or drinking for months – so I think I can safely say that we all needed and anticipated this!

Val looking very elegant in Betsey Johnson:

We started off with some light refreshments…

…and Val got some absolutely gorgeous surprise champagne from her aunt and  uncle:


Afterwards Val was presented with a list of 21 very embarrassing and cheeky things to do throughout the course of the evening! These included walking into the men’s bathroom, kissing everyone in the party, obtaining various phone numbers and passing off for a famous person. Will not reveal which ones she did…:

After the light refreshments, it was time for the the proper stuff…!!

It did not take long until it was Fresher’s all over again!




We all had an amazing time, one of the most epic nights out in London ever!

Valerie’s 21st: Part 1 (Shaker & Co)

Yesterday our dear Valerie finally turned 21, and even though she has been drinking legally in London for 3 years, she can now do so in the States as well! While in Norway (and many European countries in general) turning 21 is not a particularly big deal, we have come to learn that it is a MASSIVE deal in the States, and thus it was very important for us to make sure that Val entered 21 with a bang and had a birthday she will not soon forget! To kick off 24 hours of partying and champagne drinking, we went to Shaker & Co just before midnight so that Val could pretend to be a minor and be forced to show her ID:

Just before midnight, Lida and Mato presented Val with a gorgeous home made surprise birthday cake to celebrate the end of childhood”. It tasted absolutely amazing!

And Val managed to blow out all the candles in one go!



I was also very excited to finally be able to present Val with her gift, which Henrik and I had been planning for over a month. I was originally intending to give it to her in the form of a Powerpoint presentation on my laptop, but the bar staff were so kind as to allow me to plug it into their TV monitor so the whole bar could take part in it!

It started with me introducing Val to a lovely place…and I think she soon took the hint…

…that we are taking her on a holiday!!

I was very pleased that I managed to bring out a couple of tears in the birthday kid – that means success, right?! As for me, I do not like how sentimental I look in this photo…

It was the perfect start to Val’s 21st birthday, and at 1 am we went home in order to sleep and prepare ourselves for part 2!

The Magicians

Has anyone been following “The Magicians” on BBC1? One of the magicians, Jason Latimer, invited people from all over London and the world to come to Candid Arts Trust to paint a huge mural. Before this, he asked an artist to paint a picture, and locked it up to the ceiling wrapped in brown paper. Latimer then contended that the painting would be the exact same as the mural.

The great unveiling of the painting in front of BBC’ crew was open to the public, and so Val and I headed down for some magic!

In this picture you can see the mural in the background, with the painting hanging in front of it. A random assistant was picked from the audience and asked to cut out a section of the mural. According to Latimer, the painting would be identical to this section.

Tada!

The trick was pretty amazing – however we have some theories as to how he did it, and I seriously question how random that girl was. Anyway, the best part was that we could take a piece of the mural home with us!

I liked this section. It looks like a Spitfire logo:

David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture

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As part of my dissertation research on digital art, and because I think David Hockney’s paintings are amazing in general, I went to see his exhibition “A Bigger Picture” at the Royal Academy yesterday. Tickets were really hard to get hold of – but I managed to find an available slot in the end!

The reason why Hockey is useful to my dissertation on digital art is that some of his latest landscapes have been painted using his iPad, and I wish to further explore this concept of the loss of physical materiality and the loss of the original. Therefore, this exhibition which consists of both traditional works and iPad works is a great example in which I can base some of my arguments on.

I think the exhibition was absolutely amazing, and for those who are disappointed that “A Bigger Splash” is not included – you won’t even notice it is not there. It was refreshing to see an exhibition so personal and unpretentious, so lush and vibrant, as opposed to most other exhibitions which usually try to be intelligent and cynical and instead just end up being annoying. I could see how the other audiences around me were smiling, feeling revived and happy by all the beautiful colours around them. How amazing it must be to see the world in such splendour. Makes me want to bring out my watercolour kit and go crazy! Actually, I think I might do that over reading week…