@MarDixon Passionate about culture. Champion for the next generation of Cultural visitors. Defender of Libraries. Digital, Wearable Tech Enthusiast. Sharing knowledge. Troublemaker and/or advocate, depending on what you need.
  • scissors
    May 31st, 2017mardixonCulture

    Today we attended the Canaletto & the Art of Venice at Queen’s Gallery. Rachel has provided this guest blog – hope you enjoy!

    Canaletto, a unique artist, captures the beauty of Italian architecture and city scenes from the 18th Century, which we are able to still enjoy and recognise today.

    This morning, Lucy Whitaker, Senior Curator of Paintings at the Royal Collection Trust of the Queens Gallery (part of Buckingham palace) gave a tour of the Canaletto exhibition.

    She informs us that while 18th century’s Venice was no longer the political powerhouse  it used to be after Napoleon invaded, the City of Venice was still in its last great century of glory. This exhibition celebrates Venice at that time and the artist Canaletto forms our idea of Venice as we see it through his eyes.

    Whitaker explains that Canaletto might not have been so successful without the support of Joseph Smith, a British merchant and art collector and dealer who lived in Venice and became an avid collector of his work.

    Because of Smith, Canaletto’s work travelled across Europe and was especially popular with the British aristocracy who were particularly drawn to the city of carnivals, music and costumes.

    As we enter the exhibit, we are greeted with two great paintings of a Regatta on the Grand Canal on Ascension day in Venice. The paintings reveal the grandeur of the Regatta, as gondolas float under the Rialto Bridge.  This day was a great festival, to which many British hurried across Europe to see. A ring would be thrown into the sea from a gilded barge, a symbolism of Venice’s maritime power at that time.

    Because Joseph Smith was close to Canaletto and was his biggest supporter, he commissioned a series of six drawings of Venice in 1723. Smiths collection in the end contained 200 pieces of Canaletto’s work when Smith finally sold his collection for £20,000 to George III.

    Now the pictures are at the Royal Collection gallery infrared images have been done to see the meticulous drawings Canaletto made underneath in the process of producing his paintings.

    The gallery has made the exhibit so it seems as if you are moving through personal Palazzo of Smith. He had earned his fortune from trade and lived in Palazzo Balbi, near the Rialto, which Canaletto later included in one of his Venice paintings. Later in the exhibit there are also paintings of Rome that Canaletto completed from some sketches and his memory, while living in England many years later.

    Unlike British tourists,  Venetians didn’t buy the work of Canaletto as they didn’t like the typical views and city sights that he often depicted. In this time paintings of history and mythology were the most prestigious paintings.

    This exhibition shows however characteristics that link Canaletto with the other artists of his time by revealing his amazing knowledge of oil painting techniques.

    Alongside Canaletto’s stunning works is art work by the female artist Rosalba Carriera. It was unusual to have successful female artists at that time but she was also supported by Smith in the 1720’s. She started by painting Snuff boxes and then moved onto art pastels drawn in chalk, which became very popular. A good luck token, very common in the 18th-century, has been found hidden inside Rosalba Carriera’s pastel A Personification of Winter by Royal Collection Trust’s conservators.

    This is for me, the most beautiful of her paintings at the exhibit and I was drawn to it before knowing it was where she hid her good luck token. Hidden between the pastel’s wooden support and canvas liner, the token was found during conservation work.

    Instead of framing the good luck token, the Museum team decided to keep it on the frame of the Winter picture to preserve it’s good luck.

    A multimedia guide provided to all visitors is the perfect companion (2nd to a personal curator tour!) for interpreting the exhibition. A well written tour that presents interesting interviews and expert opinions, it’s another fine tour production from ATS Heritage.

    Royal Collection Trust/ © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

    The learning room was also a source of joy with different activities available for all ages.

    The exhibition is on from Friday, 19 May 2017  until Sunday, 12 Nov 2017.

    Rachel Rigby is a freelance travel and events journalist who is always looking for her next adventure. For more information contact her on rachelrigby@hotmail.com.


    Tags: , , , ,
  • scissors
    February 10th, 2017mardixonCulture

    It’s been awhile since I did a review and there are two amazing exhibitions I recently saw in London, the first was the David Hockey exhibition and second is Robots at the Science Museum.

    I was fortunate to be able to attend the David Hockney press preview whilst in London.  Normally press previews are very nice events that give you time to explore the art without a lot of people and fuss.  There is also a few talks, usually from the curator, sometimes it’s the press people.  And there is usually tea/coffee and biscuits.

    This press preview was completely different.

    It. Was. PACKED.  And I mean wall to wall with people writing, photographing and filming.  I was able to go through in my normal style, pretty rushed in each room, go back the opposite way and then through again to see what I missed.  The problem: normally I go into a room to find just one or two things I like (it something me and Charlotte have always done to avoid art fatigue) but with this exhibition that was impossible – I *liked* everything!

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: , , , , ,
  • scissors
    July 31st, 2013mardixonCulture

    IMG_6055Charlotte and I were able to take the Buckingham Palace State Room Tour last week with Laura from AboutLondon and her 7 year old daughter. Charlotte and I have never been inside Buckingham Palace so were very excited to have a tour let alone a tour which was also exhibited the special exhibition to mark the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty’s Coronation.

    Having been on the Windsor Castle tour, we knew to get the Children’s Audio guide (and we convinced everyone in our party to do the same).  The Children’s audio tour deals less with dates and facts and more with fun facts and trivia.

    The audio tour allows you to go through the State Rooms at a good pace and ensures you see the interesting paintings and other objects within the rooms.  The ushers are very sweet and mindful of dealing with children.

    What was very hard, but understandable, was the No photo policy in all but the exhibition room.  I’m a culture snatcher and love to take photos of everything!  However, this allowed me to put my phone away and appreciate the tour more. Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: , , ,
  • scissors
    April 26th, 2013mardixonCulture, International

    IMG_0505While in Philadelphia I was invited to visit Chemistry Heritage Foundation as my sister Darlene Cavalier, who runs Sci Starter,  had a meeting there.  I went but must admit, I wasn’t looking forward to it (I can say that now that I’m 3500 miles away again).

    A museum on chemistry?  Really?  It just sounded like watching paint dry.  Even when I walked in I remember saying ‘well this isn’t going to take me long…’

    Boy was I ever wrong! 

    Chemistry Heritage Foundation (CHF) has turned into one of my favourite museums on so many different levels.  Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: , , , ,
  • scissors
    December 7th, 2012mardixonCulture

    On the train journey down to London, I was reading the Metro (free paper) when I was reminded the Design Museum has a new exhibition.  I tweeted the article as it looked interesting – and the Tweet had people asking me more about it. So I decided to head over to Design Museum to see the exhibition.

    Unexpected Pleasurers: The Art and Design of Contemporary Jewellery – runs until 2 March

    Have to be honest:  I don’t really care about jewellery.  Nor am I a fan of fashion (ahem).  I’m not even a huge design fan (although Thomas Heatherwick has been changing my opinion).

    You don’t have to be any of these things to appreciate the exhibition as it goes beyond the fashion item into the thought-process of the design and the value contemporary jewellery brings to our society. Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: , ,
  • scissors
    May 21st, 2012mardixonCulture

    I recently attended my second London Ambassador training day in London recently.  One of the areas we touched based on was apps that could help us while we were on duty.  This was when I was first introduced to Hailo Cab – an app to help you hail a cab in London.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: ,
  • scissors
    May 15th, 2012mardixonCulture

    The way that I found about the new Damien Hirst exhibition was about 4 weeks ago when I saw the Tate exhibition on a documentary. I already knew about him but this got me more interested in him.

    On Saturday, my mom and I got to go to the exhibition – I was jumping for joy! The exhibition fills 14 rooms over one floor except for one special piece. When we went in there was a lot of people and the first thing I saw was the hair dryer pushing up the golf ball [What Goes Up Must Come Down, 1994].  But I didn’t care about that because I went right to Dead Head [With Dead Head, 1991] which is a picture of Damien with a dead head.  Damien didn’t kill the man – I think the man donated his body to science but a lot of people still thought it was wrong.  I didn’t. Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: , , ,
  • scissors
    May 7th, 2012mardixonCulture

    Britain Tate Quiz Trail is a new app from The Connected Set Ltd on behalf on Tate Britain which is free to download.  The objective is simple: choose a category from the three available, choose a level and answer 10 multiple choice questions.  You receive 10 points for answering the question correctly on the first attempt, 5 for second, 0 for third.  You can play at Tate, taking about 45-60 minutes to work your way through the gallery, looking at each piece and answering the questions or off location (as I did).

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: , ,
  • scissors
    May 5th, 2012mardixonCulture

    The day the Art Fund App was released, I happily and excitedly  downloaded it.  I happened to be in London that day so I went to the launch at Regent Street Apple Store where Will Gompertiz, BBC Arts Editor talked to contemporary artists Michael Craig-Martin and Mat Collishaw about technology in art (as related to the app).  They also talked about Damien Hirst as both work with Damien.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: , , ,
  • scissors
    January 24th, 2012mardixonCulture

    For the first time real artefacts used by Scott and his team, with rare scientific specimens collected on their expedition are brought together. By combining the historical, scientific and polar expertise of the partners, this exhibition is able to go beyond the familiar tales of the journey to the Pole and the death of the polar party to explore the Terra Nova expedition from every angle.


    Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: , ,