Arts in Parliament Exhibitions @UKParlArts0June 25th, 2012Culture
Did you know that Westminster Hall is open to the public and you can even take tours of the historical building? This surprised me as I always assumed it was visit by appointment only. However, recently I heard about UK Arts in Parliament and wanted to know more about it. You do have to go through security to get into Westminster Hall but it was pretty quick and painless (and the security is very friendly).
Arts in Parliamentis an initiative created to bring art, music, dance and poetry into the Houses of Parliament as part of London 2012 Festival and Cultural Olympiad. The full program of events can be found on their website. All events are FREE but some are ticketed. Arts in Parliament can also be found on Twitter.
Charlotte and I visited when the Hands Around the World exhibition was on inside, and Ceramic Flower Garden was displayed outside.
Hands Around the World is an exhibition that is large, colourful and gorgeous. It was started in 2000 to continue an initiative by ART 2000. This was then used as a template to continue the project internationally. The template consists of: 10 strips of equal length, a sun (day) and moon (night on curve of the earth or on a horizon line), earth, and sky. The border has handprints from local community to help reflect the people. What is on the murals is personal to the country and people that create it – it could show special events, history, landmarks, etc.
There are 11 murals in total and it’s the first time they have all been displayed at once and I have to say the backdrop of the historical Westminster Hall adds to the colourfulness and significance of their meaning. The countries represented include: New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Switzerland, Canada, Uruguay, Ukraine, Coast Salish, Uganda, Japan and China.
Charlotte and I had no history Hands Around the World when we started to look at the art. We were drawn to the grandeur and colours. Then we slowly started to see the individual features shining through. For example, for one of the murals, there were a few subtle baby footprints amongst the handprints. On another, there was a horse shoe.
Reading the interpretation after looking at the pieces allowed us to use our thoughts first to see if they married up to what we thought (they usually didn’t but that wasn’t the point). For example, we learned that in a certain area within New Zealand you say ‘Kia ora’ for Hello and that Tiger Hill in Suzhou (China) is named because it looks like a crouching tiger.
The exhibition heightens your senses as soon as you walk in. The height and depth make the pieces look as if they have always been there. The groups/students we observed while we were there all seem to find something to talk about (there were lots of ‘did you see this?!’ conversations as the more you looked the more you appreciated the detail of the work).
Hands Around the World is only on until July 2 to make way for the next event. While I’ll be sad to see it go, I look forward to coming back to Westminster Hall with Charlotte to see more innovative art in such stunning backdrop.