DAY 7 MEETING MY HERO



Shaking off last night’s Bellini’s, I awoke early and went for a run (walk) – my time in London is running out and there is still so much to see. I am realizing that I will need to come back.

Top on my agenda today is Tate Britain for a date with my hero. Oh Joseph Mallord William Turner – where do I begin? 37,000 works on paper owned by the Tate! I am perversely fortunate that none of Turner’s major works are in London at the moment (being in Japan on a world tour that I saw in Australia last year). This means that the Clore Gallery has been filled with works that are rarely seen. Works from private collections have been loaned for the period and a great deal of unfinished works have been pulled from the archives to fill the walls.

This is INCREDIBLE for me! I have been given an opportunity to study all aspects of Turners process from the linen stretching and priming process to imprimatura and underdrawings… not that this is in any way methodical – the man did different things every time.

One technique that I observed is that Turner will create a texture in the prime with a course brush, indicating the direction of the torque of the painting – all before any colour or subject is indicated. What this means is that he can come in at the end of the painting and lay down a general glaze which pools in the cracks of the underlying texture and causes fine lines in the paint which direct the eyes towards the focal point. It’s quite simple and quite brilliant!

The Tate Britain has a beautiful airy feel and is filled with wonderful works by many great British painters and foreign painters who associated with, or worked in Britain at some point – there is a loose mandate and it makes sense; creating a palpable connection between the various artworks.

I will avoid going into great detail here but present is Francis Bacon, Constable, Gainsborough, Hogarth, John Singer Sargent, Sir Joshua Reynolds and many women painters who for one reason or another are relatively unknown; Georgina MacDonald and Vanessa Bell stand out for me. There were also some wonderful contemporary works including a series of 305 postcards of stormy seas, sea charts and maps. The work by Susan Hiller is called ‘Dedicated to the Unknown Artists’. There were many scenes from Brighton, a place that holds a special place in my heart, where, when I was 20 years old I met and/or spent time with many of my greatest friends, my husband included.



I have done NO shopping while I am in London – this will NOT do! Emergency retail appointments took me to Harrods for a look… I did make a purchase – a pot of green tea and a bowl of edamame beans in the food court for 27 ($49AUD)… eek! A plate of sushi was 85 (and up).

I had arranged with some friends to go to the theatre to see 1984 in the evening so I raced home where I had a 5 minute turnaround – 3 minutes of which I lay on the bed hoping to gain a miracle resurrection. Leapt up, lipstick, exchanged flats for heels, raced out the door… track work on the circle line! Goods train on the circle line!! I am late for the play as I round the corner to the theatre at top speed, regretting the heels, I see one of my friends waiting out the front. My other friend didn’t make it in time either but two of us slid in as the doors were closing.

The show was really, really good. Confronting and scary as it should be, it was a clever stage adaptation of the novel, employing 21C technology and evoking a 1940s (and futuristic) feel at the same time - suffocating and liberating – complex.

We all reunited after the play went for a pint at the pub. It was lovely to see my dear friends Jane and Gareth – they announced that they are moving back to Oz – so we will see each other soon.


I think I need sleep.