Thursday 14 September 2017

Escapism is OK – Leighton House is the perfect place

Catastrophic weather, famines, political chaos, war and other violent conflicts are nothing new and I don’t know if it is the power of 24 hour TV news, the speed with which the news is transmitted, often in real time or the overwhelming effect of bad news coming through every medium.  But right now it feels like the beginning of the end time.  And most of us are powerless to do anything.

I voted to remain in the European Union in the UK referendum and stand back and watch the chaos resulting from the vote that went the other way.  Even more corruption in South Africa than existed already, an increase in anti-Semitism here and in Europe, people fleeing terror across borders – and so it goes on.

I have already reduced the time I spend watching or reading the news.  I try to be pleasant to people I encounter and help where I can, support my local food bank etc.  But sometimes escape is the only answer.

London is blessed with a huge variety of (mostly FREE) art galleries and museums.  Last Sunday we went to the “Alma-Tadema at home in Antiquity” exhibition at Leighton House and the world stayed firmly outside the door.  I have visited the house before and it is worth it for that alone, but this exhibition traces Alma-Tadema’s career from his childhood in the North Netherlands to domestic life in St Johns Wood. 

The exhibition is superbly curated with a rare opportunity to see works from around the world – from the Netherlands to Mexico, from the USA, various British galleries and private collections. The antiquity part of the exhibition describes and illustrates his fascination with Pompeii and the ancient world.  Languid ladies in white robes looking out to sea were certainly my view of his work but there is so much more. 

The scope of the exhibition is wide including some of his work for theatre productions and some examples of how his work has influenced film makers from the original Quo Vadis in 1013 to the Cecil B deMille production of The Ten Commandments which I saw as a child (Charlton Heston as Moses with an American accent!) up to Ridley Scott’s Gladiator.

A real treat and the world stays firmly outside the door!

The exhibition is on until the end of October