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Yesterday I lighted upon a poem I hadn’t read in a long time. I must have scanned ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ a hundred times for my A-Level English Literature course, but I hadn’t revisited it since. Strangely, though, I feel as if the words have grown on me like a rash during the absence and now feel as if I understand it more. I used to pride myself on never noticing the weather; it always seemed to me a boring, unimaginative and ultimately clichéd thing to talk about, something I would only consider bringing up with an awkward acquaintance if all else failed. But now, whether I have softened or been enlightened in some way, I have a greater appreciation for the turning of the seasons, so I went out with my camera to attempt to capture what Wordsworth saw some two hundred years ago. I reproduce his poem below, an ode to spring in a far greater and more beautiful simplicity of language than I could ever hope to achieve.

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I wandered lonely as a cloud

 

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

 

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

 

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed – and gazed – but little hought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

 

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

 

William Wordsworth, 1804.

 

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I am a city girl through and through, much to my father’s disappointment. Take me out of London too long and I go a bit stir-crazy. Replace the buzz and bustle with calm tranquility and I won’t thank you for long. Nevertheless it is refreshing to get out of the smog on occasion, and partly because of this, and partly due to my own increasing irreverence with the meals I cooked myself (I can never convince myself to cook something decent when it’s just me) I went down to Lyme Regis with the rest of my family last week. Just for the week, though, that was sufficient.

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For those of you that don’t know, Lyme Regis is a seaside town in Dorset, near the border to Devon. It’s one of those charming little places that gets absolutely swarmed upon the moment the sun peaks itself out of the clouds. I’ve heard a lot about those seaside towns in Europe where the population in the summer months balloons to sometimes 500% of the population in winter time, but in Lyme Regis it’s slightly different. Yes, the summertime population is markedly larger than in the winter, but the main difference I noticed was the discrepancy between the daytime population and the night-time one, as thousands of people packed up and left as the sun descended. We walked along the front, dotted with gorgeous pastel beach shacks, on a sunny afternoon surrounded on all sides, but when we went out to dinner later the restaurant was sparsely inhabited and we saw barely a soul on our walk back via the same route.

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But all the people flocking day by day can’t be wrong, and Lyme Regis does have a lot to offer. There are two beaches, one of which is a pebbly au naturel for dogs, and another that has been artificially enhanced by imported sand. Some may think this is slightly unnecessary, after all people come to Lyme Regis for the experience of the British seaside, so why should the tourist board feel the pressure to confirm to idyllic Mediterranean standards, but I can understand the modification. The walkway along the beach is dotted with pubs, food shacks and more ice cream than even the most enthusiastic of toddlers could consume in a year. Moving inland to the town itself, despite heavy levels of tourism it has remained largely stalwart in its small-town charm, and I hope it continues to do so, despite the recent secession to acquiring a Costa. Please, though, no McDonald’s. I can deal with the invasion of Costa’s burgundy-red and white, but the garish yellow and red would be too much for this town to cope with. I like my cities to be cities, and my seaside towns to retain integrity. So while I don’t think I will ever connect with Lyme Regis the way I do with my own hometown, the glorious, effervescent and ever-changing London, sometimes it is good to have a getaway, a bolt-hole, an escape. As long as my return journey’s booked.

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I’m young. I’ve got very little to do. There was no alternative really. No one could go with me, that’s true. I could have chickened out with the usual excuse of lack of companionship, but really? Backing out of the largest street party in Europe because of a lack of a buddy? Nah, man, they would have just slowed me down.

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Honestly, though, I’m writing a blog post on it but I’m going to start with one emphasis: photos and me writing is all very well and good, but really you have to have been there. You have to go. Experience it yourself. Seriously, put it in your diary, your calendar, indelible ink it on your hand right now because this is something you have to experience and you have to experience it for yourself. It’s loud in every conceivable way; loud music, loud colours, and when you’re walking through the food areas, loud smells. The music, a case in point, was so loud at some points, you could feel it in your throat. Now I’ve been to places where the music is so loud you feel the bass through your feet first, or you’re pretty sure the beat’s messing with your own heart’s attempt to keep a rhythm, but I’ve never had quite the same experience with feeling the shudders all through my throat, down to my chest. Luckily the colours didn’t have a similar effect on my vision, otherwise I wouldn’t see for days.

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Yes, the costumes were fantastic. Some of them even made you catch your breath when you first saw them, gasp and try to imagine even putting something like that together, like the swans I’ve featured above. But actually my favourite thing was the odd group of lesser costumed revellers, whose minimised attire made them less initially impressive, until they started dancing. One particular group, all wearing fluorescent green shirts, that I saw early on, all shimmied along nicely, until suddenly one of their group shouted out, counted them in, and then they all burst into some choreographed skanking right then and there. Hands down my favourite moment. The energy bouncing off those people you could live on for a year, it was one of those clichéd, corny moments where everyone’s just in tune with the party, with each other and you realise life isn’t all fast cars and how much office space you have. And sorry, I was too busy enjoying that moment live to bother getting a good picture. No regrets on my side.

And, on a final note, debates about body image and weight have been in and out of the news like a badly designed whack-a-mole these past few years, but as I was watching the carnival I felt there could be no advert that more potently showed the power of inner confidence despite your shape than the ladies and gentlemen that took part in as much, or little, clothing as they desired. Whatever you wanted to wear, went; however you wanted to dance, went; every form of expression was embraced and revelled in, and if it was colourful and covered in glitter, all the better. And if anyone had tried to tell anyone any different? Well, would you have taken on a whole troupe of angels?

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I was going to try and think up an alternative name for this post, but in the end I didn’t. Because, to me, the name ‘Saatchi’ has such a ring and a feeling to it that I genuinely don’t think I can do any better. Saatchi. I’m saying it out loud as I type that, I love it. It’s such a strange, peculiar and unusual name, and my does it suit the paintings inside the gallery.

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One of the most exciting moments for me in the Saatchi was when I spotted Odires Mlászho’s adaptations of Augustus and Julius Caesar’s sculptures. Now for people who know me, they know there is no way I wouldn’t get excited about these . At university I studied Classics. For those of you who don’t know, which, in my time, I have discovered is quite a few, that’s Latin and Ancient Greek. Yeah, I know, you’re not the first person to have responded to that fact with the question, ‘Why?’, but anyway. Reading the descriptions of the paintings in the room I had just entered (it featured in addition a huge bust made out of paper) I immediately clocked the words ‘Julius Caesar’ and ‘Augustus’. Mlászho has placed a circle of an incredibly apt photography on top of the prints of the original sculptures (you can see it on the Saatchi’s website, here http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/artpages/odires_mlaszho_augustus.htm). The effect is quite incredible. At first glance the two images appear to work wonderfully together; your brain just makes them fit. But the more you make yourself aware of the differences between the two mediums, really look, for example, at the angle of Augustus’ eyes in comparison with his nose, the more the two media seem at variance with one another. They are of course completely estranged in terms of time, if nothing else. In addition, when you see the sculptures themselves, the eyes are blank, and can only convey emptiness. There is substantial evidence that the Romans themselves didn’t leave their statues the cold, clean marble we associate with them, but instead painted them, even filling in the eyes. Therefore the picture we are given here, with Augustus and Julius Caesar’s piercing gaze, is much more realistic and in tune with what the Romans themselves would have seen. Thus the effect, I feel is to bring a vivified and novel realness to the sculptures, while remaining quite true to their original, Classical intention.

And this is another thing that’s wonderful about the Saatchi, you can wander from modernised representations of Roman figures, to… well, just about anything. Probably my favourite painting, which was too complex to ever do justice to in a photo, was Zak Smith’s 100 girls, 100 octopuses. Yes, the title is quite self-explanatory. It’s a huge piece, acrylic and metal ink on paper, but with each figure only a few centimetres high. It’s in the style reminiscent of a block of flats, where the viewer can see into each one, and in each one is at least one girl or one octopus, usually a combination, and often in some very bizarre poses. It’s brilliant. Plus, look at how much space they give the paintings:

Saatchi example

That’s not a real Saatchi painting by the way, I’m too scared of copyright infringement. I put it in iPhoto and pretended the whole painting was a blemish to see what it would do; it looks kinda cool.

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Today I traversed to Trafalgar Square. The purpose of my visit was to absorb the beautiful, and old, paintings that reside in the National Gallery. On our way there, my friend whom I was visiting with, who just so happens to have lived in London all her life I may add, asked, just to clarify, which one the National Gallery was. I said, ‘You know that big, grand building in front of Trafalgar Square, with all the lions and Nelson’s Column? Yeah, that building. That’s the National.’ And with that, we were on our way.

Trafalgar Square as a place is pretty arty. For those of you who don’t know, there are four plinths surrounding the square. On one, George IV on a horse, another, General Charles James Napier, and another Major-General Sir Henry Havelock. Yeah, I only recognise one of those names as well. C’est la vie, you win some you lose some. But, the art of it arises when one considers the fourth plinth, as this houses a piece of art, changed at various intervals, and as such I think it is pretty freaking cool. The ‘ultramarine cockerel’ (or blue chicken, as I have termed it) is apparently supposed to embody awakening, regeneration and strength. Yeah. OK. Take that as you will, but I for one simply enjoy its injection of colour among the stone and marble, and the ridiculousness of such a large fowl among statues of men. I mean, is it really any more ridiculous to mount a huge statue of a bird, as opposed to a huge statue of a man? There are of course valid answers and objections to this, and, in responding to my question in the way you did, I hope it taught you something about the values you yourself hold, in terms of who should be glorified and who not. Boom. Got you.

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Sadly, of course, I am unable to actually share with you the main part of my day, the Gallery itself. It was patrolled, as expected and well within reason, by scrupulous members of staff on the look out for people using cameras and camera phones in the paintings’ presence. My friend got something in her eye, and in providing my phone for her to use as a mirror we were berated from across the hall, although upon explaining the situation we were free to go on our way. One member of staff even had to tell a man off for touching the painting. I’m surprised she didn’t slap his hand and send him away to think about what he had done; it did seem a rather bizarre thing to do (and quite a stretch, bearing in mind the barriers in action).

It was enlightening though. My interest in art has always fluctuated; my father is an artist, primarily a carver of wood but he also paints, and used to teach, so I’ve always suffered from a few conflicting feelings. On the one hand having a father so passionate about something enthuses you; on another, you want to rebel; on another, when you do show interest, the conversation can quite easily digress and deluge into a torrent of information that becomes quite tiring to listen to in itself, thus stunting any further questions and even interest you might have. But, I have to say, touring the gallery today the one thing I wished for was more knowledge; Monet is showing impressionistic tendencies, but what does that mean? What was he reacting against? Why did no one like Van Gogh’s paintings at the time? I still refuse to believe Kalf’s ‘Still Life With Drinking Horn.’ Look it up, Google it now, or better go to the Gallery itself- some HD cameras can’t even capture that detail. In addition it was refreshing to see the tendencies of us all in the painters; I commented to my friend, while viewing Rembrandt’s work from 1669, a self-portrait of himself at 63, that these were, indeed, the original ‘selfies’. Art changes style, changes tone, changes tools, but, as an expression of human feeling, it never really changes.

Yeah, even if it is just a fucking big blue chicken.

So I’ve shown you what I look like. Well, what I look like looking out a window. Now for what I’m going to do. I am trying to wrote a blog I would like to read. A blog with current events, but also substance, and sometimes profundity. I will write about events and places, particularly in London, that I think are worth writing about, but I will also post some original work of my own, when I think it fit to broadcast it to the wider web. I am into art; art of all sorts, written, performed, and pictorial, so that will be the base I’m coming from. At the moment I am at the base-camp most writers start at; I have the time, but I don’t really have the money. But I’m working on that. It’s currently chucking it down outside, but my window’s open because I like the smell of rain. Go figure.

Looking out my window