London: she's a spicy broad who's just as likely to slap you with her handbag as offer you her lighter. I LOVE her, but in a dark chilli chocolate way, on event and rather not longterm. I adore the energy, the diversity, the colour, the grunt and the history. Especially at Christmas time- London is dressed up with lights, baubles and people smashing up on decadence and excess- yet in English styling God forbid ya let anything slip or ooze and actually look like you've lost it or you're enjoying all that fun. But there is a subversive hum to this city also, it has a sadness, anxious frenzy and ache-iness that permeates at a deeper level for me.
The contrast of the 'haves' and 'the have nots' is heart wrenching and the English class system is still well in effect. YES I went to a private school and to University at 16- what do I drive?! Umm- you've taken the wrong lady on my dear. I am not a fan of member's only clubs, elitist segregation or snobbery and London wracked my fur because of this, but she has provided me with some incredible insights and new experiences and for that I am most grateful.
Every turn has culture and history seeping from the bricks. People advised me against wandering about at night solo- which I never heed and make my own call about, but it is about picking times and places and comes down to what you feel comfortable being involved in. Actually many people in NZ said to me London wasn't safe- I'd beg to differ on that. Yet, not much makes me blink so we take that energy with us- fear vibrates and it's hard to cover your body language if you truly are feeling frightened and no-one deserves that walking home- soo gauge on your experience not mine- back up plan of attack: UBER, plan your day (tube stops at about 1am), or grab a mate.
Londonites are great fun and I met some incredible people but it is big city vibe-click-a-thon and it can be challenging cracking the ice traditional styles with people. I felt people are cautious about others motivations and measure what use you can be to them- networking in the slickest of senses and not of the variety I imbibe. In my experience people are also taken back that a woman is out and about doing things on her own and minus a cellphone stuck in her face, urg- felt like time had wound back a little. Ok- pattern worldwide is pretty similar- less on woman's equality and more on cellphone usage, but UK pub culture definitely runs as a pack situation and making buddies at a full bar or table takes some interesting techniques- and work. NZdrs and Poms share what I call commodity-tick-box conversation techniques- what do you do, where are you from, who are you here with etc- I'm not really interested in that stuff, I just like to talk to get to know someone for the sake of it without an ulterior motive and am far more interested in what they enjoy or feel connected to.
Here are few top hitters of my time in the English capital. There is so much to do and see it's a dangerous thing leaving the house because you can't help yourself but get sidetracked into wonderful places. Most of the galleries and museums are FREEEEEEEEE and it's amazing what events you can sidle up on into just by being around. I LOVE the process of getting somewhere and am never really too hung up on what the end result is. I really like how London travels and moves; paper newspapers are abound, the tube has it's own sass and the stations all have their particular vibe- love you South Kensington with your pot plants... but I feel for those with prams and incapacitated- there are no lifts or elevators in this heritage transit system. I wonder about the impact of the headlines and fear mentality of the tube papers too- all body image, gossip, bigoted Western view and salacious overreaction about world events- you might as well hold a loaded gun to your head if you want to feel positive and upbeat about your urban environment, community and body image.
To date I hadn't encountered such an outward display of pent up stress and frustration like I saw on mass on the tube with men (predominantly) bent double over their knees with heads in hands and rubbing their temples- literally distress peeling off them like feathers. People don't acknowledge each other and it's about business time.. actually London felt a lot like that to me- we are doing a job, not a time nor place for play luv- a very different beat than other big metropolises I've loved.
Places of note in addition to those below: Shoreditch wandering just for the street art and designs. Tate Britain: Amazeballs. Tate Modern- brilliant; love how Brits interact in museum formats, talking, bustling and getting in there :) Westbourne Park for retro at Rellik (serious sass with buzz entry and horrendously overpriced but fun for the experience). Millennium Bridge, St Andrews in the Fields, The awesome boutique Prince Charles Cinema and the Curzon (which is fighting being closed down) in Chinatown, Sir John Soane Museum (all sorts of collected bits and bobs and new techniques in art displays within confined spaces- this guy was a mega horder of the coolest kind), Islington Museum- fantastic display on the heritage of the area and Trade super club which was the precursor to the likes of Fabric and EGG. Hackney (love). Royal Court Theatre, Harrods Christmas windows. Wandering, wandering, talking, nattering, interacting, wandering- places of kook and interest all over- love Wapping and the squirrels in Hyde Park ^=^
Any culture that grinds to a halt at 3pm for tea and cake is bloody fantastic in my books.
My Grandfather John McIlwaine was a graduate of The Royal College among others and this was my number 1 hitter to do in London. He was an utterly incredible soul and has left a void in me and within my family when he passed two years ago. Some people are simply incredible, but these ones never fade because they revisit us forever in our memories. My grandfathers legacy not only lives on in the etherial and emotional, but in the peoples lives he touched and saved- this is truly magnificent. Hunterian is utterly fascinating filled with specimens in jars and formaldehyde alongside developments in medicine and surgery apparatus and techniques. Hours of queeze inducing oogly googling and for me a very powerful, emotional and moving day- nothing like having a bit of a blub between the disection of a newt and a malignant tumor taken from the brain.
John Hunter (1728-1793) came to London in 1748 at the age of 20 and worked as an assistant in the anatomy school of his elder brother William (1718-83), who was already an established physician and obstetrician. Under William's direction, John learnt human anatomy and showed great aptitude in the dissection and preparation of specimens. William also arranged for him to study under the eminent surgeons William Cheselden (1688-1752) and Percivall Pott (1714-88).
While most of his contemporaries taught only human anatomy, Hunter's lectures stressed the relationship between structure and function in all kinds of living creatures. Hunter believed that surgeons should understand how the body adapted to and compensated for damage due to injury, disease or environmental changes. He encouraged students such as Edward Jenner and Astley Cooper to carry out experimental research and to apply the knowledge gained to the treatment of patients.
Hunter is today remembered as a founder of `scientific surgery'. He was unique in seeking to provide an experimental basis to surgical practice, and his museum is a lasting record of his pioneering work.
Zaha Hadid has been one of my greatest inspirations as a female creative and a designer since I studied Industrial Design at university. She is ballsy, unique, driven and contemporary and I deeply admire her spirit and direction. So much so that I incorporated a small stylised portion of one of her drawings into the design I drew for my tattoo.
I love how her work transcends creative disciplines from automobile design to shoes, to jewellery, home decor and fashion. She loves to collaborate and transcend the boundaries of what is art, sculpture, form, and space. I adore her use of modern materials and processes; frequently employing cutting edge technology to create magnificent products, maquettes and architectural models.
Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, DBE (Arabic: زها حديد Zahā Ḥadīd; born 31 October 1950) is an Iraqi-British architect. In 2004 she became the first woman recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. In 2014 the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, designed by her, won the Design Museum Design of the Year Award, making her the first woman to win the top prize in that competition.
Her buildings are distinctively neofuturistic, characterised by the "powerful, curving forms of her elongated structures" with "multiple perspectivepoints and fragmented geometry to evoke the chaos of modern life". She is currently professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna in Austria.
If I die doing what I love you can snuffle an urn into one of the displays anyyyywhere in amongst here. Oh my gawwwwwwd check you out you mega champ of historic collections. Victoria & Albert= winnnnnner. Plus a bloody fine pistachio tea cake as part of the Indian textile display ;)
As the world's leading museum of art and design, the V&A enriches people's lives by promoting the practice of design and increasing knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of the designed world. The architecture and space in itself is devine and you can sit, sketch, or attach yourself to one of the guided tours that are taken hehe
The Petrie Museum houses an estimated 80,000 objects, making it one of the greatest collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology in the world. A jaw dropping, look like a fish oogling hours whittering experience of incredible relics. It illustrates life in the Nile Valley from prehistory through the time of the pharaohs, the Ptolemaic, Roman and Coptic periods to the Islamic period.
This kkkkooooooky- actually kind of beejeeber instilling and slightly creepy museum has a Victorian feel and is up there with places I would rather NOT be locked into at night. I creeped my way around the low ceilinged rooms and discovered toys from other ages and realised that yeeep- ceramic dolls and clowns do have a strange effect on my subconscious.
Pollocks Toy Museum was started in 1956 in a single attic room at 44 Monmouth Street, near Covent Garden, where Pollock's Toy Theatres were also sold. As the enterprise flourished, other rooms were taken over for the museum and the ground floor became a toyshop. By 1969 the collection had outgrown the Monmouth Street premises and Pollock's Toy Museum moved to 1 Scala Street, with a museum shop on the ground floor to contribute to its support. The museum continues today to be run by the grandson of the founder Marguerite Fawdry.