Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Trafalgar Rain, with Octopus

This is what London looked like yesterday. Quintessentially British, right? Cold, rainy and gray, with temperatures in the 40s. I went to Trafalgar Square to attend an exhibit at the National Gallery -- a photography show, in fact -- and I took this photo from the front portico.

The exhibit was mildly interesting -- it explored the connections between modern and early photography and painting. For example, it paired still-life paintings of fruit by Dutch masters with still-life photos from the 1800s, and a modern day video of a pile of fruit decomposing on a plate. I guess it's not news to me that art is connected, that newer pieces often grow from ground plowed and sown by earlier artists. But I was unfamiliar with many of the artists and all the individual pieces, so it was intriguing to see new and different works.

I went partly because I'm fascinated by Richard Learoyd's photo "Man With Octopus Tattoo II," which is used in the promotional materials for the show. Isn't that an incredible tattoo? I wouldn't have the courage or endurance to decorate my body with such a thing -- and I'd be worried about how it would look in 50 years. But maybe that's the point. Maybe it's just about being beautiful now.

I bought the photo in postcard form, which doesn't do it justice but fits my finances. The exhibit paired it with illustrations of Laoco├Ân wrestling with sea serpents, which lends a somewhat threatening tone to the octopus tattoo. Is it a sinister presence, indicating a struggle within the model?

Afterwards I wandered down Charing Cross Road and took some photos of my own on the way to the tube, despite weather that discouraged even the pigeons.


  1. I'm conflicted about tattoos -- both repelled by them and attracted to their beauty. The octopus is pretty incredible -- I feel like I've been seeing a lot of them (octopi?) lately -- in the way that we saw owls for a while, too. There's a new cookbook out with a gorgeous drawing of an octopus on the cover -- it's Italian, I think, and the binding is incredibly beautiful.

  2. Here's the link -- it's a Venetian restaurant, and now they have a cookbook:

  3. The photography show sounds interesting.

    The pigeon looks miserable!

    Love the rainy reflections of the line of people!

  4. I adore that octopus tatto. I'll probably never get one- I just don't think I'm the type (whatever that is) but I sure do enjoy admiring art on others' skin.
    You know what? I'm still thinking about those tiles portraying the "early miracles" of Jesus. I swear. I can't get those off my mind.

  5. I am finally starting to see the beauty in tattoos, although I still abhor the idea of putting permanent ink into one's skin. I always love to hear the stories behind the tattoos, which are often more interesting than the artwork itself.

  6. I rarely think a tattoo is beautiful (although I guess beauty isn't often the point), but I really like that octopus!

    Love the pigeon - that's how I'd feel if I were out in that weather :)

  7. It's a pretty cool tattoo. I was going to get one at 50 but I couldn't decide on what to get. That was 12 years ago. I still think about getting one though. I've seen some beautiful works of art in tattoo form.

  8. Oh yeah that is an awesome tat! LOVE IT! Octopus is such an evolved lovely smart creature- misunderstood, for the most part.Trafalgar is consistent, you always know where you are there!