Art exhibitions I visited in 2016 include:

Barbican: Strange and Familiar (curated by Martin Parr)
Barbican (Curve): Bedwyr Williams: The Gulch
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At the V&A, one rainy Sunday in January, I looked at dreamy photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron, taken in the 19th century. I then wandered around the refurbished Japan Gallery, where they had a Hello Kitty rice cooker and some mobile phones, but luckily they also still have the netsuke. I went to say "hello" to the bats on the bowl that features in Russell Hoban's Bat Tattoo after that. Then I searched for the fountain of youth and found it depicted on an ivory comb.

Horniman

Nov. 28th, 2015 09:33 pm
At the Horniman Museum, my mum and I played musical instruments and stared at enchanted lyres, hurdy-gurdies and brachiopods. It was cold outside, but the sound garden lured us to play anyway.

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"If you do not have Business Here, you must at least pretend you do with a very firm expression, or else learn to eat violets and converse with sundials,"
I read, in The girl who circumnavigated Fairyland in a ship of her own making, while on a train to Blackfriars.

I began to notice things decorating the streets that afternoon: the faces on the bridges, the statues, the space invaders. I tried not to get too distracted, as I was on my way to a museum that is only open one Sunday a month: The Kirkaldy Testing Museum.

Machines used to test materials to determine their strength were scattered around the museum, with the grand Kirkaldy Machine as the centrepiece. David Kirkaldy patented the machine in 1863, and it was used to test many things, such as components for the Eads Bridge in St Louis, USA, and for the Skylon for the Festival of Britain. I found the museum fascinating.

I put on safety glasses and turned the wheel on a smaller machine that was used by a company that made parachutes, and a piece of fabric was stretched and stretched, and then I tired of turning the wheel, and let someone else take over, and then ping, it snapped.

I then headed to Bankside, and caught a glimpse of the Holly Man (the winter guise of the Green Man), who had appeared for the Twelth Night celebrations.

I wandered for a while, by the river, and around London Bridge and saw a mass of umbrellas, suspended in the air, with lights flickering up handles.

The ice cream shop I had intended to visit was closed and then I wondered if they sold
violets in the Whole Foods Market in Richmond, so headed there. I did not find violets, but I did eat a bright pink piece of rosewater shortbread, a square of pineapple/incaberry chocolate ("sweetened with dried coconut-blossom nectar" and containing a fortune cookie style message, "Silence gives depth to my soul".), and a tamarillo.

A girl wearing a purple coat and glasses is looking around the Musical Museum. The musical museum is full of fantastical self-playing instruments, such as self playing organs and self playing pianos, some of which the piano keys move as if they are played by ghosts. There are carts that made music and would be wheeled around the streets, and pianos that would be in pubs to play music there, for people to dance to perhaps, and machines that have violins and would be found in arcades and they cost one old penny a go, to play the music. There are also music boxes that play tunes, but they are quite limited in comparison to other self playing instruments which often take rolls of paper with holes in, just like old computers with punch cards. Quite magical.

The girl wearing a purple coat and glasses stands in front of the Wurlitzer with her camera and watches as it lights up in different colours and hears the different sounds it plays, one minute sounding like a door bell and the next like a chirping bird and then like horse's hooves clip clopping down the street. It is a beautiful machine.

These self playing instruments were very expensive at the time they were made and they were the only way people could hear music that was not someone playing it themselves, this was the only pre-recorded kind of music. These machines often did not need electricity to be played either. Unfortunately, these self playing instruments quickly fell out of fashion when gramophones appeared, which were able to play a larger variety of music.

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