Sunday, January 12, 2014

London for Free: A Disturbing Photographers' Gallery and A Trip Through History

Elina Brotherus photography
Just a brief, belated post about Sean and my "free day" in London about a week ago. Feeling quite broke after our splurge at Swan Lake, and having nothing to do in Oxford, Sean and I headed to London for one last day in search of "free".  

Thanks to Lonely Planet's list, we decided to head to the Photographer's Gallery on Ramillies street, a tiny street by the Boots on Oxford Street, London. You can very easily miss this street - it's hidden in a corner down a small staircase!  It is an interesting place that is housing a unique (albeit disturbing) exhibition called "Motherlode: Home Truths". It featured women who photographed their own (or others') childbirths and their first hours and months with their child. Some had strange poses such as a 6 year old and a mother in a tub playing with mud (?!); some had disturbing womans' full frontals showcasing brutal scarring from c-sections. Best birth control exhibition ever. 

Now, I'm sure I'm going to stir up some trouble here, but I have to say it. One of exhibitions by Elina Brotheras portrayed a woman and her stages of "agony" at not being able to conceive a child. They show her with pharmaceutical drugs and drugs and more drugs (and all of her bruises and side effects from the drugs) trying to force a child into existence; she looks about 40 in the pictures. The middle plaque says they are two things you should never say to a woman in this situation 1)  Relax and it'll work  (ok, fine, that's reasonable) and 2) Why don't you just adopt?

WHY THE HELL NOT? There are tons of babies and children that need homes. Parents that can't take care of those kids. If you really want to raise a hellion, does it matter whose DNA they have? Is it worth bruising your body and injecting drugs?  Really?

The Photographer's Gallery will soon be showing "Motherlode: The Wall", which is apparently a response to Home Truths on the perceptions of motherhood.  The artists are: Janine Antoni, Elina Brotherus, Elinor Carucci, Ana Casas Broda, Fred H√ľning, Leigh Ledare, Katie Murray and Hanna Putz.

Museum of London

This is a hidden gem! The Museum of London houses a beautiful exhibition showcasing London throughout the times, from pre-historic to Roman to Victorian times to modern day.  You walk through timelines of history, view artifacts and feel as if you really are walking through stories of the past. The walk through early 1900s London was particularly interesting, as was the walk through fashion trends and British suit-making and the exhibition on War, Fire and Plague. One could spend hours here, but we spent only about an hour and a half, with the intention to return. 

Sean with an old fireman's hat
It seems that if you were writing a novel about London at any point of history, this would be the way to feel as if you were immersed in the setting. Definitely a must-see!

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