It always tickles me when you speak to an immigrant and they reel off all the places they have visited; Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Tower Of London, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Imperial War Museum, Transport Museum…
You name it, they’ve done it. You name it, I haven’t.
It isn’t because I don’t want to go. My to-do list is chocka with cultural activities, parks, museums, restaurants (and pubs) that I want to go to. Unsurprisingly, I make it to the pubs – probably because it is easier to find someone to come with me, “do you want to go to the pub with me?” has more appeal than “do you want to come to an exhibition on photography of the Syrian civil war with me?”.
I don’t believe in regretting what I do, but I do believe in regretting not doing things, and there were 4 exhibitions that I really want to see, closing between 3rd September and 17th September. My hand was forced.
On Bank Holiday Monday, I headed out to the Imperial War Museum. The war in Syria has touched me more than any war in my lifetime, through the sheer wanted destruction of human lives, and the willingness of the international community to stand by and let it happen. Special mention goes to Russia for actively encouraging the death machine of the murderous Assad.
The exhibition itself was of photography from 2013/14, showing the lives of ordinary people in the conflict. It tried to focus on the human element and to be objective – some of the photography was stunning, yet emotionally devastating. This was the most striking part of the whole exhibition for me.
Then there was a slide show of images from the refugee crisis – again highlighting the human catastrophe this was, and the desperation of those trying to flee to safety, and to a better life.
In a separate exhibition area, there was a small selection of artefacts, including this bullet-ridden road sign, and some disturbing memorabilia showing the relationship between Assad and Putin. And a replica recreation of a barrel bomb – which I decided against photographing.
Then there was an 8 minute video, showing the history of the conflict, and also highlighting something that I was not aware of, that being of the great inequality prior to the uprising between those in Assad’s circle, and those not.
It really is shocking to see how a stable and relatively prosperous country can be destroyed through civil war, all started from a few teenagers writing anti-Assad graffiti.
Once I had pondered what I had seen, it was time to go see something more cheerful.
Every year I told myself that I would go see the butterfly exhibition at the Natural History Museum, finally I did it. A relatively small price of £5.85 gained me entry on a hot day, to a hotter and very humid tent, full of tropical butterflies.
It was quite a bit smaller than I expected, and only took around 15 minutes from start to finish.
Not an awful lot I can say about it, plants and some butterflies. Some exceptionally colourful ones – like this magnificent bright blue butterfly, or another almost luminous green butterfly. One really large species too which looked more like a bird.
Actually quite a good photograph for my standards.
Not entirely sure it was value for money, but it wasn’t far off.
Then on a Friday evening, I went to the robot exhibition at the Science Museum. It cost £12.35 a ticket to go around a very over-heated section of the Science Museum.
It started with a baby, and went through clockwork machinations – none of which I was particularly interested in.
Then it went into a area showing more modern advances in robots (did you know the word ‘robot’ originates in Czech?), with a history of robots and the ideas around them in the 20th Century.
I was rather impressed to see the famous T2.
The exhibition discussed the ideas of robots looking like humans and how we interact with them.
Later on (not that much later as it wasn’t the most time-consuming exhibition ever), we went through a more futuristic zone, with various robots that are used nowadays or very recently – many of which seemed to come from factory production lines.
I also found my girlfriend.
It was quite cool to wander through, but I wouldn’t say it was worth paying for. It was hot, it was very busy (despite ticketed timeslots) – some of the robots are going on permanent display anyway. It wasn’t as interactive as I thought it might be either.
Glad I went in terms of #FOMO but if you didn’t go – you didn’t miss out.
Finally, I wanted to go see Walala’s colourful maze at the NOW Gallery in Greenwich.
I was going to go last Friday after work, bit of a mission to get there and then get home, but it was the last weekend that it was on.
I quickly checked their website at the end of the day, and realised that it was ticketed and sold out. Oops. Lesson learnt – if you want to do something, don’t leave it until the last minute.
I did however console myself with a walk around the temporary installation of Villa Walala in Broadgate Square, at the back of Liverpool Street Station.
Next up? Who knows. I did want to go see the Basquiat exhibition at the Barbican, but it’s £16 and I’m not that interested.