I was determined not to waste any of my time in London, so I selected various things to do during the day.
First up, on Thursday morning I went to the V&A (my favourite museum) to see Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma, 1852 - 1860
. It's a free exhibition and one I found fascinating. Tripe (what a splendid Dickensian name) was an army captain and engineer employed by the East India Company. What particularly impressed me, apart from the way he adapted and improved the means of developing his photographs to combat the Indian climate, was the pride he must have taken in his pictures. He would deliberately alter the negatives with his thumb so leaves and clouds would have much greater depth than was possible given the length of time it took to take a photo. The pictures he was sent to take had a commercial/military purpose and yet he made them artistic as well.
Friday morning I took the National Theatre backstage tour. We saw three of the four theatres and learnt much about all of them. In the Olivier we were able to watch the start of the transformation of the stage from Everyman
to The Beaux Strategem
. The different staging possibilities are amazing, especially considering the plays are in rep and therefore change between two different productions every few days. From there we were taken to the Littleton and saw the scenery being installed prior to Three Days in the Country
. That looks stunning. We were also able to hear a pianist at work on one side of the stage. We were able to visit the rehearsal room for Three Days
and see the costumes hanging on a clothes rail. We walked through the Dorfman, but were unable to stop as there was a workshop in progress. There's a new walkway installed, which means people can walk along above the workshops and see what's being made. And I even saw the statue made for King Lear
of Simon Russell-Beale.
From there I went to the Museum of London Docklands, for an exhibition of photographs taken by Christina Broom, entitled Soldiers and Suffragettes
. Although interesting I wasn't as taken by this exhibition. Broom was a good photographer, but it was evident her photographs were all taken with an eye to earning a living. There's no fault with this, but she was clearly intent on keeping on the right side of establishment. Her suffragettes were parading and talking, but not really protesting. Her soldiers were brave and patriotic and did as they were told.
Lastly I went to the main Museum of London for a tour of the gateway of the Roman fort. This was very interesting - there isn't that much to see, but the guide, one of the museum curators, was full of knowledge, which she communicated well. She had an ability to encourage her listeners to imagine themselves back in the Roman era - and also in the Victorian era, when the wall of the fort was the back of a row of shops. I think Gloucester has more to show in the way of ruined fort, but it was well worth making the trip to see it.