Mr Davies’ Overcoat

October 24, 2011 § 5 Comments

Last week, I was feeling better, so went to see the Degas exhibition at the Royal Academy, followed by the Museum of Everything in the basement at Selfridges, sort of extremes in the exhibition world. I liked them both. For those not familiar with the Museum of Everything, the exhibition is “an initiative to highlight the role of progressive art workshops for artists with developmental disabilities.”   There were loads and loads of good things to see, all for a suggested donation of £2.00. I particularly liked the portraits of US presidents (didn’t take down the artist’s name – apologies) and the grappling wrestlers of Tomoyuki Shinki. Unfortunately, this exhibition has now finished but well worth watching out for next year.

Degas and the Ballet was a bit of a surprise to me. I’m not a big fan of dance but went along because a good friend asked me and she has access to the members’ tea room. Came away with a couple of thoughts.

1. The exhibition is pretty interesting. Lots about how Degas’ ballet paintings coincided with the birth of photography and film, both of which he used to examine movement and thus prefect his own work. I didn’t know anything about Étienne-Jules Marey, a Parisian doctor who studied movement both in animals and humans. The exhibition includes some of his great models of birds in flight, like this one.

Marey also made films using first his rather spendid photographic gun.

Then, in 1882, he developed a chronophotographic fixed plate camera, equipped with a timed shutter, and finally a camera which used a film strip to record the progress of movement. His films included the falling cat and repeated shots of movement such as this one of a man flexing his arm. All quite lovely and good to see bodies working well.

2. As anticipated, the tea room was nice, although somewhat drew attention to my age – full of ladies of a certain age, generally post retirement, either with husbands or meeting other ladies of a similar certain age. There was general feeling of people having a day out – an exhibition and a bit of lunch, followed by a little light shopping in Fortnum and Mason and a book from Hatchards. And why the heck not? Getting old, going out and about, doing things you enjoy, this is something I want. Being sick doesn’t make me fear old age and its inevitable limitations, but rather fear that I won’t get to be old and experience all that. Perhaps, having had a taste of it, I should worry about being infirm and not as I once was, but in lots of ways I’m already there, certainly the “not as I once was” bit.  Surviving enough years to be old, well, that will be living the dream. If I can get through all this rubbish now, I look forward to pointing at pictures with my walking stick and helping an elderly Mr Davies back into his overcoat after a post-exhibition cream tea.

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§ 5 Responses to Mr Davies’ Overcoat

  • Keep wanting to leave comments on your posts but can never seem to quite find the right words. I just find them very touching, I guess; this one in particular. Makes me want to rush out and buy Mr Robertson an overcoat in the hope of hurrying along that time of life.

  • Hilary Nightingale says:

    Another brilliant post – thank you!

    By the way, if you fancy somewhere more louche for afternoon tea, I know just the place courtesy of Mr N’s London Library membership. It allows members to use Black’s club in Dean Street which helped us banish miserable thoughts of unemployment and poverty last Monday. Though it was more a case of afternoon gin than tea.

  • Nougat says:

    Completely agree: old age is something to aim for. This is a lovely post and I’m pleased to hear that today was a goodie. Thank you. xox

  • Mary Collins says:

    Tim and Celia visited this show yesterday as people about town. As a family we are v clued up on Marey as he demonstrated the horse pace leg movements, not v strong on ballet it turns out.

  • Ann says:

    Anne, I remember you from school and nothing has changed. You are still a very witty, bright star.

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