Spend Friday night at a gallery

23 Apr

Last weekend was  one of those crazy-busy two days that only happen in London. It involved travelling from south to north to east back to south in one day, a barbecue, an engagement party, time at the spa and lunch in the shadow of Windsor Castle…

I kickstarted it all off though, at the National Portrait Gallery on Friday evening. Taking my chances I booked last-minute to see the Lucian Freud exhibition and experience the gallery’s Late Shift where it’s open until 9pm on Thursdays and Fridays, usually with a bar and some special activity.

Warning, the staff are strict with the timed visits and I had to spend some time wandering the Victorian portrait rooms, listening to young American students make the remark that Queen Victoria was a ‘wuss’. Ah yes, that would be the woman who reigned for 60 years before the time of women’s suffrage, colonised the world, revolutionised  industry, and remained a widowed ruler until her death. But the fun didn’t stop there as I soon discovered the people at the gallery became as interesting as the paintings.

In the Freud exhibition I eavesdropped on a camp art dealer making transactions with a striking 6ft Cruella De Vil lookalike, some dreadlocked hipsters carrying round portable stools, bored partners of art enthusiasts, bored teenagers of tanned Sloane rangers trying to look cultured, awkward dates (what can you say about Freud’s vivid nudes), clueless tourists…

After the exhibition I tried to seek the bar but the pathway was blocked by a drop-in drawing classes and as much as that would afforded more quality people watching I had a busy weekend ahead and made my way home.

Freud is worth a see, but not as much as its visitors.

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