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Year 12: London Gallery Visits

Given that we were only visiting for a day, we did a lot of preparation before our trip in order to make the most out of it. As part of this, we visited gallery websites and made a shortlist of exhibitions to visit that would complement our AS and A-Level projects, as well as preparing small sketchbooks to draw and make notes in by creating coloured pages, fold out sections and textured surfaces to make sketches more lively.

We required an early start in order to catch the train to London from Leeds, and we had a long day of gallery visits and travel ahead of us.

After catching the train to King’s Cross, we took the Underground to the V&A museum which, to our surprise, had an underground entrance. We only had around three hours in the gallery, which was incredibly huge and varied, so we had to focus on what would benefit our work. I spent a long time in the sculptures collection and made a lot of figure drawings of the often dramatic statues in the gallery.

The V&A museum additionally had an extensive fashion collection which spanned centuries of clothing styles, such as Victorian wedding dresses, waistcoats (with swords) to the more modern day clothing. Many of the outfits were artworks in their own regard, and gave me a lot of inspiration for my future projects.

A large host of costumes and set designs also were displayed at the V&A in their theatre and performance gallery, including a hat shaped like the Sydney Opera House, many interesting and often outlandish outfits designed for the stage, and even an Oscar!

Other notable objects that we saw in the gallery included old and luxurious jewellery, a hall filled with ancient Roman pillars, a collection of ornamental swords and an impressive room filled with stained glass. Many of us visited different gallery areas and reconvened when we got on the Underground back to King’s Cross.

We then walked to the Wellcome collection, which was arguably more of an interesting museum than an art gallery, yet gave a lot of us inspiration for our projects. The three exhibitions there involved paintings, artefacts, photography, films, installations and other points of interest and were often incredibly thought provoking. Highlights included a face imagined and constructed from sequencing the DNA found on cigarette butts, a collection of medical saws used to amputate limbs, a thought-provoking “Refugee Astronaut” sculpture and a video installation of a McDonald’s restaurant slowly flooding in response to the climate crisis. I sketched a lot of different things in the Wellcome gallery due to their individual uniqueness, and, art projects aside, it was an interesting museum to experience.

Overall, despite the tight schedule of the day, the overall experience was interesting and incredibly useful for our own personal interests as well as for our A-level projects. Several of us are inspired to do more gallery visits in the future.

 By Polly Bridges, Year 12

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