Thursday, 16 June 2011

Wallace Collection and some more trainspotting

Last week I went to a short talk at the National Gallery with visits to six landscapes.  I couldn’t make out anything on the Sisley painting, but could make out quite a lot on a painting by Peter Paul Ruben’s called Het Steen.  The partner of this painting (The Rainbow) is in the Wallace Collection.  Sadly I had never been to the Wallace Collection when I was sighted, but there was something in the Ruben’s painting that made me want to see The Rainbow.  So I went! 

I got off a bus at Portman Square, where some kind people took me to Manchester Sq and I entered the Wallace Collection and realised that many years ago I had walked past it, and in fact had driven round it.  I mentioned Rubens 'The Rainbow Landscape' and the man at the desk told me where it was.  Someone else offered to take me in the lift, but I wanted to try the stairs to make out the 2 paintings on the landing by Boucher.  I couldn’t make out much walking up the stairs. 

I had clear directions and found myself in the Great Hall (I think).  I approached one of the guards, who took me to the Ruben’s and we chatted about it and then I was more or less taken round the room and saw a Poussin, a Gainsborough, The Laughing Cavalier, a Titian and a lot of paintings that I'd heard about but obviously had never seen in the flesh.  (The Wallace Collection does not travel.) 

The guard (Bill) turned out to be a real gem, with amazing detailed knowledge on the paintings.  I commented that some paintings of the sailing ships reminded me of Turner and we had a pleasant chat about landscapes, portraits and what colours I could make out.  I then worked my way back and asked a guard in another room about some paintings - I think it was by someone called Bonington. 

More sailing ships and he in turn took me to see what I could make out from a couple of Della Croix.  I then went back to the landing, where I spoke to another guard about the Boucher paintings viewed from the landing itself, but I still couldn't make out anything!  I was then taken down in the lift to the Canalettos.  I saw the Venice:the Bacino di san Marco, then had a quick bite in the garden restaurant before browsing in the shop, where I got some postcards. Finally, I was taken outside and given directions to the Wigmore Hall, which I managed to find! 

I found the visit to the Wallace Collection very encouraging and though the Collection may appear to be 'cluttered' with furniture, I didn't find it at all intimidating and the Collection is one that I would happily drop in and spend an hour or two on my own as I did today.  All the staff and guards were extremely helpful.

Visiting art galleries might explain why I enjoy sitting on a train going through the countryside, with my peripheral vision picking up the railway tracks, the sky and the landscape as it changes.  Many artists can produce a trompe l’oeil or ‘deceiving the eye’; in my case, the peripheral vision picks up the perspective, though of course I don’t see anything if I look at the object itself.  Some people with central vision sight loss can use their peripheral vision in a form of reading known as eccentric reading.  To give you an idea of how much peripheral vision I have, I know that road markings have either look left or look right, but I can only sense these road markings when  ‘looking’ straight ahead.  A trip on the train, facing the engine, sitting on the right side frames a landscape with the other tracks and the odd chimney or pylon helps to frame the landscape in much the same way as a sailing ship would figure in a seascape. 

Short trips by train (Freedom Pass plus Railcard):

London Boundary zone 6 to Tonbridge - £4.30
Watford Junction to Bedford - £12.20
Amersham to Aylesbury - £5.70
Aylesbury to Princes Risborough - £3.05

All the above trips were done connecting through parts of the London Underground and London Overground network, with London Midland, Southern Railways and Chiltern Railways.  No problems at all! 

As always, many thanks to the railway staff at Harrow-on-the-Hill, Amersham and Aylesbury stations. 

Tip:  If travelling north, get any Metropolitan Line train at Finchley Road if you’ve connected on the Jubilee Line and change again at Harrow-on-the-Hill – but ask, as old Metropolitan trains make few announcements.  The new trains are excellent.