Monday was the first day of my holiday from work and a week opportunities in London.
This year I decided to invest in an Art Fund Pass to give me different options of places to visit... I have meant to do so for quite a while and didn't realise just what a brilliant thing it was.
I have had National Trust Membership for several years but this gives free access to some National Trust Houses, some English Heritage and a Historic Royal Palace! The pass also gives discounted entry to a great number of exhibitions that you would normally have to pay for. My pass cost £39.95 and covers events, exhibitions and museums nationally.
I visited Kensington Palace free to Art Pass holders and £15.00 in the normal way....it was several years since my last visit and a lot of work had been done to make it a more interactive experience. There is an exhibition running at the moment called Fashion Rules which is included in the cost of entry which shows various clothing items worn by The Queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana.
TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY
Nothing using my pass but I had a lovely lunch at Windows on 28th Floor of the Park Lane Hilton on Wednesday...
At NPG admission is free for the most part although they do run a few exhibitions a year which are chargeable as with Laura Knight Portraits. I had seen some of her work before, mainly the ones from WW2 in factory settings The Art Fund Pass meant this was a very affordable £3.50 with the 50% off. The gallery is still showing this years BP Portrait Award which runs until September 15th and that is free.
Just next door is the big brother to the Portrait Gallery, The National Gallery which I still do a little at a time a hangover from when I used to take two small boys to see the big pictures looking at a few a visit. I went to see Bathers at Asnières, by Georges Seurat a favourite of mine as well as a few by Turner and Gainsborough. On recommendation I also took a look at the Vermeer and Music exhibition that is again finishing in early September and only £4.00 with my pass (50% off)....again a great exhibition although Vermeer is not one of my favourites.
In the evening I managed to get to a talk at the British Postal Museum Archive in Mount Pleasant. The 8th August was the 50th anniversary of the Great Train Robbery and the archive has various documents relating to it and the investigation afterwards. After a visit to the archive we went next door to the Phoenix Centre for a talk by Andrew Cook relating to his book The Great Train Robbery: The Untold Story from the Closed Investigation Files. It was fascinating hearing how evidence was used 50 years ago and how it would have been a different story today.
Today involved a drive but not a particularly long one out to Saffron Walden in Essex. The weather was a bit on the rainy side as I started out but gradually improved as I reached my destination. Another great house and garden covered by my pass....Audley End. This place was not new to me as I lived fairly close by when I was very young and remember picnics on the lawn there in my 20's but had never been inside the house.
It is a delight and there is amazing taxidermy for corridor after corridor. No photography was allowed in the main house but I got some pictures in the grounds and outbuildings. I rounded of the day with a guided walk around the gardens. Well worth another visit.