8th October 2019:
I couldn’t sleep for a while last night thinking about this trip to London that I was almost missed because I didn’t know about it until yesterday and had mailed the professor regarding my interest to join the trip. The trip was to London for the “Leonardo da Vinci: Life in drawing” exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery. I slept hoping I would still get contacted for it.
8:15 am: I woke up with an E-mail from Stefano, confirming an availability for me, and the reporting time was 8:45 am with a departing time of 9 am. I was so excited but worried at the same time if I could make it in half-hour to the reporting venue. It was one of those situations in the movies where you see the actor rush out of the house to catch up on a meeting or an appointment, I was in much of that pickle. Anyways, I didn’t think much and took a quick bath, booked the tickets for the exhibition, packed my bag not realizing what I was packing, and off to the library. I took a printout of my ticket and made it to the reporting venue at 8:55 and was still on time. *silent scream* “Goodness! I was able to make it.” I picked up a Pain aux Raisin and a Costa coffee from the Co-Op and got on the coach.
This was my second exhibition visit after the Turner Prize exhibition at Margate, I was super excited to look at works by Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings and sketches. I was also deeply excited to see London for the first time. We reached Victoria coach drop off at around 10:45 am, and walked to the gallery. Professor Mr. Tom Henry joined us at the gallery who was behind this whole trip idea. I made some new friends from my course on the coach. I had no idea who all would be on my course during the orientation, but surprisingly I met so many on this trip. We had sometime before we got inside the gallery, so we decided to take a walk. The walk turned touristy in three-minutes as we reached Buckingham Palace which was apparently right behind the Queens Gallery.
After the walk, we were soon at the gallery entrance. To my surprise, I saw queues to get inside the gallery which was new for me as I had never seen a queue for a gallery or a museum before. After about 10 minutes, we were inside the gallery, and shockingly I see the whole gallery was filled with visitors which was again new for me. The only thing that was on my mind the whole time was, “I am seeing Leonardo da Vinci’s works” (I will try to stop saying this again). The same da Vinci’s works I used to see in books and prints, they were all right in front of me. Each of his sketches was so detailed.
This exhibition was displayed in the remembrance of Leonardo da Vinci on his 500th death anniversary, and for the audience who give him endless love. The whole display of the works and label storyboards from room to room created a walkthrough of Leonardo da Vinci’s journey as an artist, as a diversely talented individual. He was one curious man is what his drawings reflected. Before entering the viewing rooms, we were given audio headsets which did an amazing job reciting stories behind each work. Everything about his work was so intricate and detailed with labels and writings explaining his research which portrayed absolute visualisation of his thoughts. His interests were everywhere. I was completely astonished by the display method by the curator, each piece had decent space and matched with the color of the wall and theme of the room. The ambiance created was wonderful, it was a place for everyone. The gallery browsing took us almost three hours, after which we had the opportunity to attend a brief talk by Martin Clayton, Head of Prints & Drawings, Royal Collection Trust. The talk delivered by Martin was very interesting, he shared with us the insights of making of the exhibition and more about the collections.
It was 5 pm in the evening, when we departed from London to Canterbury. The visit to the gallery was absolutely worth it, and I was so glad I pulled it off. I learned so much from this one visit, of why people in England love art so much, or maybe people in the rest of the world do and I had no idea about.
Link for the past exhibition: https://www.rct.uk/about/news-and-features/leonardo-da-vinci-a-life-in-drawing-opens-at-the-queens-gallery-buckingham#/
Photograph: Courtesy "Portrait of Leonardo by Melzi" captured by Aishwarya Kulkarni at the Queen Gallery, London