I must say, that there is no better way to spend a gorgeous 4-day weekend than the way we spent ours. Apart from the hard garden-related work, Sunday was a day when we could both chill out completely and do nothing but potter around the garden (and eat easter eggs in bed…), spending large periods of time with our feet up, laying serenely back in garden chairs, constantly commenting on how gorgeous the weather was, how lovely the birdsong seemed, and “Look! Look! Over there, a butterfly/seeds are coming up/is that a chaffinch?” etc.
Monday we decided we wanted to do something but we didn’t know quite what. It had to avoid major roads, major tourist attractions, and be a little bit more cerebral than shops or the cinema. So, at The Fiancé’s behest we dug out the ‘Visitors Guide to Newcastle‘ (although the Fiancé does work there, we decided it might give us some insight as to things we could do) and had a look…
After an exhaustive search, we came up trumps with the Laing gallery, right in the centre of Newcastle itself. Cerebral? Yes. Interesting? Oh, most definitely. So off we poddled. It is absolutely fabulous, to see artwork in such close quarters, reproductions of images are nothing compared to seeing them firsthand. There were lots and lots of paintings, new and old, famous and not, and very few that I didn’t like. They had a whole room dedicated to Pre-Raphelite and Romantic art, which have to be my favourite genres, as well as a really interesting and informative watercolour gallery too. We saw a Degas, a Rubens, a Van Dyke, a Gainsborough, a Singer Sargent (which was enormous and beautiful)and so many more…
Some of the pictures there were so intricate, so well thought out, so moving. The watercolours were a nice addition to the gallery, featuring William Russel Flint’s beautiful ‘The Great Lavoir, Antibes‘. I also got to see a painting by an artist I’ve admired since I was quite young, Edmund Blair Leighton, called September, in which women are seen gathering fruit from an orchard, which although the canvas wasn’t large, made a huge visual impact.
But my favourite of the day has to be the collection of John Martins, whose themes and scenes of Arthurian legend and Welsh storytelling were exemplary. In particular ‘The Bard’ and ‘King Arthur and Aegle in the Happy Valley’, the latter of which was breathtaking. The only image I can find online is teeny, but the original is just spectacular. The painting, like alot of Martin’s work is based on a poem, this one based on ‘King Arthur’ by Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton.
(and one of my favourites…)
I now have the taste for art galleries, and will try to get down to London at some point to visit the many galleries they have there, notebook and pencil in hand!