Technology Intervention #4 – Dirty Burger and the National Gallery
Technology intervention #4 didn’t have the best of starts. The Thursday night before I’d headed out to the OMN New Year boat party, enjoyed the bar a little too much and *then* headed for more drinks elsewhere. Not being the drinker I once was (my memory as to how good that actually was may be a little exaggerated), Friday morning hit me pretty hard. To quote Miley Cyrus – like a wrecking ball. Anyway, I’m ashamed to admit it was pretty much a write off.
Shortly after lunch I decided the delicate feeling had passed just enough for me to head out. And that I did – into the miserable, wet London afternoon. I decided the first stop needed to be for some food, but after wandering around for half an hour in the rain looking for a place that turned out to be closed, I decided to visit somewhere that’d been on my burger list for a long time. Dirty Burger.
I’d heard pretty good things about Dirty Burger and it’s certainly had a fair bit of hype. Owned by the guys behind Soho House, they have a couple of outposts, one in Vauxhall, and one in Kentish Town – which was where I headed.
The actual location is a little odd (and tough to find) and it’s very much like eating in a shed. But ultimately the burger was pretty good, definitely dirty, and priced very fairly. A good start to my Friday (and a pretty decent way to dissipate a hangover). When I pull my finger out I’ll get a proper review up on Cheeseburger Boy.
Heading back out into the miserable weather, I took the tube down to Leicester Square and made the short walk down to the National Gallery.
As seems to be a running theme, the National Gallery is one of those places I’ve walked past hundreds of times, seen in virtually every picture of Trafalgar Square (it’s a pretty building) and yet never visited. Time to remedy that!
Being ‘owned by the people’, admission to the Gallery is free. Although they do suggest a donation, which you should definitely do (for future generations). The building itself is pretty amazing. I mean, it’s pretty incredible from the outside and the inside really doesn’t disappoint. Alas no photos – you can’t snap once you’re through the doors.
I picked up a programme (again, small suggested donation) and set to work wandering around the rooms. It was pretty amazing.
I suppose I’ve always been more of a fan of contemporary art. Art from the last hundred years or so has always appealed to me a lot more than the stuff that came before it. But I started right back in about the 15th century and worked my way through. There’s a lot to look at.
The first thing that hit me was that actually, looking at something that vivid, that beautiful, that’s 600 (or 400, or 200, or whatever) years old is pretty incredible. And secondly, surprisingly, some of them I enjoyed a lot more than I thought I would. I’m not sure I’d want to hang any of them (you know, aside from the fact they’re worth about a gajillion quid), but some of them had a certainly charm.
In particular I liked the occasional picture that wasn’t angels or ‘real’. And by real I mean a landscape or a portrait. Every now and then there was a painting with monsters and darkness and witches or something, which was pretty neat. I also quite liked some of the 17th century Dutch stuff – Jan van der Heyden and the like – who seemed to paint stuff that looked a bit more like a technical drawing than a traditional land/cityscape. Maybe they added more sky or something? I don’t know, but they appealed.
Obviously all the ‘masters’ were great. The Rembrandt pictures were fairly mind blowing. The way he captured light falling on people and skin texture is remarkable. I was also incredibly impressed with Canaletto, whose pictures made me stand in front of them and make that noise you make when you’re pretty impressed with something.
Some three and a half hours after I started, I dropped into the rooms with the stuff from the very late 19th and early 20th century, which was more my cup of tea. I love the fact that this seems to be the time artists started really experimenting (or at least it’s finally a time they can paint something without everyone looking at it and going “what the fuck is this?!”). Plus it’s always great to see the real life versions of pictures you’ve seen countless times in books, ads, posters – whatever.
I rounded off the visit with a look around the special exhibition ‘The Sunflowers’, which “offers visitors the unique opportunity to witness the reunion of two of Vincent van Gogh’s iconic ‘Sunflower‘ paintings – shown together in London for the first time in 65 years.” There’s only the two pictures in the room with a little blurb, but it’s quite lovely to see them together. Perhaps my favourite takeaway was reading that Van Gogh shared an apartment with Paul Gauguin, for whom he painted the sunflowers, as a welcoming gift to decorate his friend’s bedroom. After a short period working together, they fell out, Van Gogh had a breakdown (and removed an ear – which he may have gifted to a prostitute) and ended up in an Asylum. If I can recall what I read correctly, Gauguin left, but quickly realised that the sunflower paintings were going to become what Van Gogh was best known for (his apex, if you will) and wrote to him asking if he could send him one… Love that. The Sunflowers exhibition runs until the 27th of April, go and take a look.
It took me the best part of 4 very peaceful hours to get around the gallery before I emerged into the dark and slightly less wet London evening. And a lovely 4 hours it was.
Until next time…