09 December 2013

The very centre of London on a December Friday evening is a swarming mass of humanity on a promise: theatre-goers with a pressing deadline to be somewhere, cabs and buses crawling with intent, hopeful holidayers staring about them, the pavements outside pubs a crush of jollifying office-workers getting the weekend or Christmas party started.

And then there's the National Gallery. Okay, the cafe is rammed, and noisy, full of well-off culture-vultures from around the world straining to hear each other, what with the possibly needless bass-heavy pop shmush coming from the speakers. However. The wee espresso bar gives out onto a space that is roomy and quiet, where I can collect thoughts arising from the very interesting work meeting I've just had on the South Bank.

And then on to the galleries: I'd imagined visiting the Rembrandts or the Italians in the Sainsbury Wing. But as it was nearby I drifted toward the French, late 19th/early 20th. Manet, Monet, Renoir. Light and colour and shimmer and vibration. I was brought up short by this. 

Miraculous mundanity. Also the planes and curves and interplay of light and shadow... And that burst of reflected sun.