A Weekend Diary

…words and images from England's green and pleasant land…

A visit to the Science Museum…

There was a very specific reason for heading to the Science Museum in South Kensington on this occasion; there are a handful of photographic exhibitions that I’m intending to see in London in the coming weeks, and not least amongst them was ‘Only in England’, featuring the work of the late Tony Ray-Jones (1942-1971) and Martin Parr (b. 1952), which is currently showing in the Media Space at the Science Museum.

It cost me eight quid to get in, but it was money well-spent; there was a particular fascination for me in Tony Ray-Jones’ images taken in English seaside towns in the late Sixties, unique and wry observations of the English at leisure in a bygone age.

I’ve been revisiting ‘High Windows’ of late, Philip Larkin’s 1974 final volume of poetry. The first poem in that book, ‘To the Sea’ (completed in October 1969), seems to me to be a perfect literary accompaniment to Tony Ray-Jones’ English seaside pictures taken almost half a century ago.

The taking of photographs wasn’t allowed in the ‘Only in England’ exhibition space, so here’s another, more comtemporary, example of English quirkiness, taken in Exhibition Road on my way to the Science Museum on Saturday afternoon. I’m not altogether sure what that tuba-like brass instrument is, but, whatever, it breathed fire, as a photo I took outside the National Gallery early the following evening shows ;).

Christopher Werkowicz busking in Exhibition Road

Christopher Werkowicz busking in Exhibition Road

Front door of the V & A Museum, in Cromwell Road

Front door of the V & A Museum, in Cromwell Road

Heading back from the Museums, towards Knightsbridge Tube station

Heading back from the Museums, towards Knightsbridge Tube station


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4 thoughts on “A visit to the Science Museum…

  1. The fire tuba man is in Poland at the moment. I’ve seen him play in Ealing -that bastion of polishness, but i spoke to him and he is indeed of Polish origin!

  2. Thank you, Basia, that’s interesting, and I would never had known if you hadn’t told me :). And so much for my remark about ‘English quirkiness’ in the post itself ;). Incidentally, I was in the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank this afternoon, with a day pass for the ‘The Rest is Noise’ event there this weekend, and, by coincidence, between 2.30 pm and 3.30 pm, I was in the Sunley Pavilion on Level 3, watching one of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s ‘Dekalog’ films, originally made for Polish television in 1988 (it was the one with the woman musician who lived upstairs from the doctor who was treating her ill husband in hospital…)…

    • Oh yes, I know the films well. I have them all on dvd but i remember when they first came out, especially A Short Film about Killing which was very powerful and very graphic. It must have been the early eighties and my husband and I were in a small cinema just off Leicester Square. We used to go to every Polish film then, and this was no exception. I didn’t really want to see it, but I did. The worst moment of course was the hanging scene which was shot extremely realistically; what made it worse, however, was the fact that someone behind us was loudly munching on popcorn all the way through. The smell behind me, together with the imagery in front of me, has totally put me off popcorn for life. I left the cinema and immediately behaved very badly on the pavement, I regret to say. The other nine films were also very interesting, especially on a more personal level, as one of my mother’s cousins starred in one or two of them, and we followed his career quite avidly: Tadeusz Lomnicki. But maybe this is material for my own blog!

  3. Thanks, Basia, for the additional information on the Dekalog films (which I’ve now bought as DVD sets), and I look forward to watching them all in due course (albeit through half-closed eyes in the case of A Short Film about Killing…and I definitely won’t be munching popcorn while doing so ;)). I’ll look out for Tadeusz Lomnicki in the credits too :).

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