Today marks the end of our 10 day long journey in London. For the past 10 days, we have been blessed with incredibly good weather, not having had to use our ponchos and umbrellas at all. This would also be the last day we would be ‘enjoying’ the cold weather of London.
The first visit we made today was to the National Gallery. As we exited the Charing Cross tube station, a breathtaking sight awaited us. Beneath the clear blue sky dotted with white, fluffy clouds was Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.
Trafalgar Square is surrounded by museums, galleries, cultural spaces and historic buildings. We had the opportunity to view Nelson’s column, a monument built to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar, and the four bronze lions at its base. We saw people scurrying towards the four lion sculptures, which had their paws elegantly placed above one another, to take pictures with it. We learnt that the paws on the lions are in fact more like cats’ paws because the sculptor who was commissioned to create the statues took so long using the dead lion as a model that its paws had decomposed badly. He therefore had to use cats’ paws as a source to copy them as inspiration. In front of the National Gallery were numerous street buskers ranging from those who had painted themselves totally in gold and silver like statues, and artists who were drawing the flags of countries around the world on the stone floor in chalk. The vibrant atmosphere added on to our excitement.
Soon we would soon be viewing artworks by esteemed artists including Leonardo Da Vinci, Claude Monet and Raphael.
Today was also the last time we would be meeting David, our Blue-Badge tour guide. Because our group was large we were divided into two. While David took one group around the rest were given free time to wander through the galleries, then we would switch. David through the various galleries and gave us a quick but detailed explanation of the paintings, on the background of the artists and the evolution of the style of the paintings they adopted. He had chosen to do this to give as a chronological overview of the painting from the religiously themed work of the Renaissance to the more elitist work of British painter Joshua Reynolds who specialized in historical works denoting the gentry as Classical subjects as the elites liked to be painted as mythical characters, which elevated their personality and the values or virtues they stood for in real life.
One painting that captured my attention and lingered in my head was an artwork painted by Pierre-August Renoir, Boating on the Seine. What was unique about this piece of painting was the way it was drawn – in the Impressionist style. I was especially drawn to how he had captured light’s changing qualities on the water – the river in the painting seemed as though it was flowing right before my eyes.
With its massive collection of over 2,300 paintings, the National Gallery is very complicated. With its numerous galleries and many floors it would have been difficult to see everything so David’s tour was useful for us to get an overview.
All too soon however it was time for us to move on to our next destination.
Our last stop before we bid our goodbyes to London was the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the National History Museum. As we did not have the time to visit both museums, we were given a choice, and were split into two groups. The museum that I chose to visit was the Victoria and Albert Museum, which displayed among many, many other things sculptures, jewelry and the evolution of fashion over the years.
To me the most eye-catching attraction there was undoubtedly the copy of the famous sculpture ‘David’, by Michelangelo. Despite it being a copy I could not help but be awed by its massive size, and as it was my first experience of the work of the genius sculptor Michelangelo, I could not help but to stare in awe at its majesty even though it was a replica.
Another popular attraction at the Victoria and Albert Museum was the exhibition of jewelry designed over the years. It was a pity that photography was not allowed in this exhibition but the glistening jewels have been successfully ingrained in my memory.
It was now time to bid farewell to the beautiful city of London. The past 10 days have been physically draining but we all had acquired valuable lessons, be it life skills or knowledge.
All of us on the trip seem to have the same ambition- we all want to return to London one day, to visit these places again but with more time to see even more.
It is my sincere hope that all of our wishes will eventually come true.
Till then, goodbye London!