Luxurious Glamour at The Wallace Collection

A friend and I recently took a visit to the very beautiful Wallace Collection, which is a museum in the middle of London, in a luxurious town-house, displaying hundreds of French 18th-century painting, furniture and porcelain, as well as armoury and older paintings.

While it might make bring to mind  the slightly more touristy National Portrait Gallery, this Collection is a lot more visually appealing – the rooms are each beautifully displayed with grandeur aplenty, and there’s plenty of things to see.

I loved how all the rooms have their own character, with a separate vivid colour theme for each room so that the furniture, artwork and small trinkets all went together well. Each painting had something to look at, and the beautifully ornate furniture looked amazing – like something from of a historical period-film!

One of the things I also enjoyed was that the museum is relatively quiet – there’s plenty of time to walk around at your own pace, you get to explore the house (although you still can’t touch!), and best of all, you’re allowed to take photos (which a lot of other places don’t allow) – and entry is free too.

At the end of the tour, when you’re done, there’s a charming little restaurant outside to have some tea and relax. I didn’t manage to get a chance to visit the restaurant this time, but I will do the next time I come here to browse (and daydream about being a princess in 17th Century France).

If you’re around central London, I’d recommend a visit, whether it’s just ten minutes or a couple of hours, it’s a visual delight for anyone : )

Flashback Friday: Topkapi Palace

One of the places I would recommend to anyone visiting Istanbul is the Topkapi Palace, a gorgeously luxurious palace-slash-museum with some seriously gorgeous artifacts, and several buildings and gardens to wander around and admire. I love looking at historical pieces, and there were several from different eras of the Ottoman Empire, but the best thing about this place was wandering around the different gardens and palace buildings and seeing the work that went into each of them.

Wherever you wander, there’s blue tiles, gilded gold walls and beautiful arched doorways to walk through and explore, although I think my favourite place was a small clearing on the side of the palace which lead to a view of the sea – serene, peaceful and somewhere to think about the history of this palace and its legacy.

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Honeymoon Travels: The Basilica Cistern

Once of the landmarks we visited while in Turkey was the Basicila Cistern, which is one of the biggest ancient storage units underground the city of Istanbul which was designed to hold water. It was surprisingly busy going in, but once we got in, we could see a huge underground cavern which would have plenty of space to hold visitors.

It was quite dim in the cistern, so I wasn’t able to take clear pictures with my camera and had to use my mobile camera, but the view was pretty spectacular and there was a very eerie, mysterious atmosphere to the place.

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The most striking part of the cistern and its pillars were two Medusa heads which were carved into the bottom of two pillars – one was upside down, and one was placed on its side, apparently, deliberately so. There’s a lot of ideas why this was done, but no one really knows for certain. I noticed a lot of Medusa motifs around this city; restaurants, shops, artwork and symbols in a lot of discreet places, which I thought was an interesting link to Greek mythology, and probably points to the diverse history of traders and inhabitants of Istanbul over the  last few centuries.

It was fun to see another side to Istanbul, the quiet, atmospheric and mysterious caverns which gave tourists a chance to wander around and enjoy some peace. There was also an opportunity to dress up in traditional Turkish costumes and take photographs in a photo booth on the side, which looked fun, although we didn’t do this because it was busy and I was a little embarassed!

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Honeymoon Travels: The Blue Mosque & the Hagia Sofia, Istanbul

The most iconic places in Istanbul are the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia. Surprisingly, we found that when we asked the locals where the Blue Mosque was, they didn’t know what we meant until we called it the Sultan Ahmet (similarly, I’d been pronouncing Hagia Sofia wrong, which is pronounced Aya Sof-ya).

Both of these places are beautiful relics of history, each rich with art and stories which span over a long period of time, and iconic landmarks of the Ottoman era. Naturally these were at the top of my list of places to visit in Istanbul, and not just mine, both places were very busy!

Below is the Sultan Ahmet mosque, which is called the Blue Mosque because of the beautiful blue tiles and patterns in the interior – it is still an active mosque and open for prayers, so it is also a beautifully peaceful place because of how serene it is inside and how well looked after it is. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, it was quite dim inside though so the colours are less vivid in my photos.

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The Hagia Sofia is directly opposite the Sultan Ahmet mosque, and is different in that it is now a museum – it used to be a church, then was turned into a mosque by invading Ottomans, before it was restored to its current state. I love that it looks pink from the outside, and that the interior strives to maintain the older, Christian art alongside the Islamic art pieces. Because it is a museum there are plenty of tours which take visitors around, and we managed to go up to the second floor which was a lot more cobbley and slopey, but also very atmospheric.

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It’s amazing to see just how close these two iconic landmarks are to each other – I tried to take a panoramic shot to show how short a walk they are from each other. I like that they face each other and that citizens openly visit both places – it really symbolises the contentment of this place. Istanbul is made up of Old City and New, and European Istanbul and Asian, which really reflects in the way these two are positions, they face Qibla (the direction of Mecca) and yet allow visitors of all religions, nationalities and origins to come and see their beauty.

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This was a very memorable visit for me, particularly because of how grand the two places are. There are certainly bigger, more beautiful and more luxurious places in Istanbul than these two places, but it is clear that these two are icons which appeal to everyone for their beauty and what they represent.

Wooden Ships and Matchsticks

I love models (especially miniature ones!), and this is one I saw not too long ago which was pretty impressive – a Titanic ship model made entirely of matches by Tim Elkins. The ship (made of 147, 000 matches) is beautifully crafted – you’d never think that it’s made of matchsticks because of how tightly packed they are, and how well the ship has been crafted.

I love the detail on this ship – this photograph doesn’t really give justice to the size of it and the workmanship, but it does give that ethereal feel to it which I like : )

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Quirky Musical Art – Music Artists made of Random Stuff

We saw this at Ripleys! which we loved – various portraits of musical artists made of things like sweets, cassette tape, license plates and phonebooks (generally the kind of stuff we find lying around at home, but these guys made good use of it).

I love how creative some of these are, they’re funky and well made – I love how the musician’s faces are captured so well!

China The Middle Kingdom: A Golden History

I went to a Chinese exhibition a while ago, which focused on the China and it’s Dynasties (otherwise known as Zhōngguó or The Middle Kingdom), with varying clothes, artefacts and antiques from different eras. I loved the beauty of this period, the delicate, detailed art and the elegance in all of the artifacts, from the clothes to the engraved furniture, and even in the detailed warm masks and the beautifully quirky tea-pots!

I won’t say much more, as the pictures below can do most of the talking – but I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibition, China has always been a country which I’ve been fascinated with and it’s always nice to see things that I’ve read in books come to life in the museums!

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Paul Friedlander’s Beautiful Kinetic Light Sculptures

Paul Friedlander is a scientist, artist and extraordinaire – just look at his beautiful light sculptures to see how he has managed to merge science into beautiful art. Friedlander focuses on kinetic light art, which primarily uses spinning strings and something called chromastrobic light, which is light that changes colour faster than the eye can see, so that it creates moving shapes.

The best (and perhaps simplest) way to explain the way the science works would  probably be this: “The vibrating string becomes invisible, but the white light that’s being reflected off the rope becomes visible in an exchange that lets our eyes see magic, as real as science can make it.”

The end results are beautiful, giant rays of lights which become beautiful sculptures. Friedlander has taken this further over the years by manipulating the colours, shapes and sizes over the years, in his exhibitions and tours to various countries. I love how spectacular these sculptures look, and how fluid and colourful they are. I’m waiting for Friedlander to announce an exhibition in London so I can visit and ooh-and-ahh at them, but in the meantime I suppose I’ll have to swing some ropes around and see if any sparks come off them!

You can visit his website for more images from his various tours and exhibitions in the last 14 years, or otherwise have a look at some of his videos to see how the light sculptures look like in motion – or read his bio and more about Paul Friedlander on his page here.

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All images belong to Paul Friedlander

We Love Miniatures <3: The World’s Tiniest Camera

This is something we saw a while ago at the wonder-filled gallery that is Ripleys – the world’s smallest working camera (at the time, I believe there is now an even tinier camera now, although this one comes pretty close too).

I love that there is so much attention to detail put into this camera to  make sure it is works properly and takes pictures.

Although I do wonder, how did they manage to develop the photographs?

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