Thursday, 28 October 2010

Back in the big city

I spent four days down in London last week, and took the opportunity to visit the Canaletto Exhibition that has just opened in the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery. He has always been one of my favourite artists and this Show, placing his pictures alongside his contemporaries who were also painting street and canal scenes in Venice shows that he was not the only exponent of this detailed art-form. All the pictures on show were superb, but for me Canaletto remains the best - his intricate recording of daily life in that city allows you to look at his pictures and each time see something different, whether it be a person in the foreground, or an open window way in the distance through which you can just glimpse someone standing.

This trip also gave me the chance to walk the streets again, from Kensington to Trafalgar Square, detouring via Picadilly Circus, and there I found that since I last stood under the Statue of Christian Charity (commonly known as "Eros") the road layout has been changed. No longer is the central attraction on an island which you have to risk life and limb to reach, but now sits in a pedestrianised precinct that takes up half of the circus. The space between the statue's steps and the theatre opposite is so narrow at one point that I cannot see how the traffic used to flow around, and it made me wonder if the whole edifice had been shifted slightly to one side, but a search on Google didn't bring up any record of such an alteration. Maybe my memories are at fault.

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