Taking advantage of some non-rainy, partly-sunny weather this past weekend, Jon and I, together with our friends Liz and Ben, journeyed down to Kew Gardens.
Kew is the Royal (what does that mean, exactly?) botanic garden located way at the end of the District Line. I hadn’t been there since last winter, when I tried out Kew’s temporary ice rink and was scared away by the mobs of teeny boppers who congregated there (why didn’t they go hang out in malls, like they do in America?).
Despite the trauma of teeny boppers on ice, I wanted to revisit Kew in order to check out the Henry Moore exhibit that just opened, so Jon and I paid our £21 admission (it would have been £25, but Liz and Ben have a membership, so we got to mooch some savings just for being with them) and happily wandered around the gardens for a few hours to enjoy the landscape and see Moore’s handiwork.
The “Three Piece Reclining Figure: Draped” (photo at top of post) is representative of what little I know about Moore’s work. I like that his sculptures are so rounded and sexy, but I couldn’t help wondering if, absent knowing the name of the sculptures in advance, I would identify such abstracted shapes so “clearly” as, say, a reclining female figure.
My introduction to Henry Moore was at university (see, Mom and Dad, that $130K you spent was totally worth it!), where visitors and students can ooh and ahh over a smaller version of “Oval with Points.”
In the Henry Moore brochure Kew hands out, it says that Moore designed Oval with Points because he was inspired by an elephant skull. Well, clearly the brochure is just indulging in crazy talk, because everyone at university knew that if you viewed Oval from a side angle, you’d find only Richard Nixon’s nose – like so:
The sculptures I enjoyed the most were the ones whose images and shapes changed depending on what angle you stood. I enjoy feeling like I’m figuring out a riddle – the riddle of “what is it supposed to be?” Like with Oval with Points, or, say, Double Oval (below):
Looks like the PBS logo to me!
Much as I enjoyed the sculptures, don’t be discouraged if you don’t make it to Kew in time to see the exhibit (though you have until 30 March 2008). The Gardens are very pretty on their own.
There’s a classic, Victorian-era palm house to see and sweat in; a pagoda, English style (i.e., made of brick and covered in French doors); the truly stylish Sackler Crossing over a pretty, manmade lake; and even a little folly, built so Queen Charlotte (wife of every American’s favorite King, George III) could play the role of simple country girl to get away from it all. If you’ve been to Versailles and have seen that ridiculous petit hameau, you’re familiar with how out of touch those royals were (are?).
So I say, save up your 1,250 pennies and get to Kew!