To Art Gallery With A Palette of Perception 

To Art Gallery With A Palette of Perception 

Art is autobiographical and it helps self-discovery. I truly believe these words. That is why I decided to go to the National Gallery. It begins with the train journey so here is the mandatory photograph. Underground at Leicester Square, as the train enters. Clicked this for the sake of memory.

The walk from Leicester Square to Trafalgar Square is not a long walk. But Google Maps was playing truant. It was sending me round in circles. Asking someone for directions in not done in London. People mistake you for a refugee and they just move on, ignoring you! Huh!! I had been to the Trafalgar Square many times, so I had a general sense of direction. I reached Piccadilly.

The Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, officially and popularly known as Eros, is a fountain surmounted by a winged statue of Anteros. Eros is the Greek god of erotic love. And Anteros is the god of requited love (literally “love returned” or “counter-love”) and also the punisher of those who scorn love and the advances of others, or the avenger of unrequited love. So much about the ‘Greek Dev Mandali’ from Wikipedia.

I liked the above photograph because it brings out the old, new and the change together so beautifully, what say you? It is all about perception. Some steps ahead and I see this beautiful statue not from the front, but from the rear side. It’s a Crimean War Memorial. The ‘Guards Crimean War Memorial’ is a memorial in St James’s, London, that commemorates the Allied victory in the Crimean War of 1853–56. I don’t know much about the Crimean War. But statues create a magic. I always keep looking at statues for a long time. They seem to communicate something. All in the mind. All about perception.

A little ahead, this bus. And tourists are ready to board it. The Big Bus. I have travelled by the Big Bus a few times around London. So, one photograph for the sake of memory.

I came across this unfamiliar sculpture. It was installed last year. The resin sculpture by Samson Kambalu, shows the Baptist preacher, John Chilembwe wearing a hat, defying the colonial rule that forbade Africans from wearing hats in front of white people, and is almost twice the size of the European missionary John Chorley. This reverses a classic artistic style that, while not used in this photo, often places the dominant figure in an elevated position to highlight their superior status. I have picked up this from the website of Ianvisits.

I was spell bound by this sculpture. The defiant man is twice the size of the other man. A little dose of the historical context and our perception changes. We realize the meaning. Art and defiance are like Siamese twins. ‘Creativity is an act of defiance’ says Twyla Tharp. She is one of America’s most important contemporary dance choreographers. She obviously knows it well.

I was going to the National Gallery and all these sculptures were on my way to it. What I saw right in front of the entrance of the Gallery surprised me. A big tent!

I walked up the steps. And I was in for a big surprise. A tent was set up for ‘Summer On The Square’ event. Free Entry. This is what I saw when I entered.

Children were given a big easel and papers to paint, and create art. Not sure, but I think they received even painting crayons and other material free. I stopped where a little girl was painting, completely lost in her work of art. (Oh, how I envy these children!) I asked her parents if I could take a picture, and they readily agreed. Her Mom said she intends to put it on Instagram.

And there were some doing modelling for the children too! There are three, one of them is lying down. One looks like the evil lady from the Cinderella story. Everything is left to the imagination of the children. The children were making art – anything which came to their mind. Flowers, balloons, just about anything! No rules.

And I saw this another girl completely engrossed in painting. I asked her parents if I could take a photograph, and they welcomed it. A short and happy discussion followed, but the young girl did not bother to look at this photographer. Well, you can see why!

I envied the little ones. Art was never allowed on a student’s agenda when we were in the school. Many of my friends were scolded at home when their parents found them sketching. To what extent this mindset has changed?

At the National Gallery they have ‘The Keeper of Paintings and the Palette of Perception’. It is a mobile-based immersive adventure that encourages children to explore and learn about one of the greatest collections of paintings in the world. Children can play The Keeper of Paintings app in the National Gallery!

Finally on my way home. Excited by what I saw. Saddened by what I missed in my life. Sitting at the Euston station I tried ‘double framing’ and moderately succeeded. You can see a train whizzing and yet read the words on the advertisement behind the train.

Everything is a work of art; we have to read the hidden meaning. Like the words on the advertisement behind the train. For that we have to use our palette of perception.

Vivek S Patwardhan

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”