Culture is a gateway into the heart and mind of (Wo)Man. It is an entity that changes with the times, yet remains eternal, and always follows the same principle: it documents how we see and relate to the world.
Culture in all its forms, whether deliberate or spontaneous, acts as a time stamp on the zeitgeist of any age. It acts as a way of connecting with those that live in the present and with those that discover it in the future.
‘High culture’ often comes with the caveat of elitism and alienation, which is what kept me from trying to understand it until now. An art gallery is only a room full of meaningless material, an accusatory finger to point out one’s ignorance.
At least it is if you allow it to be.
London has laid out the red carpet of cultural appreciation, through its myriad of theatres, galleries, academic institutions and most importantly its fascinating, passionate people.
A younger, less confident me rejected and dismissed the arts as dull, heavy and so not worthy of my time. But slowly, by nibbling at the arts in all its media, I have grown a sophisticated palate and more importantly, rediscovered why I spent those hours, my finger feverishly tapping on that middle button on the mouse, tab after tab holding the cerebral wonders of Wikipedia whilst my classmates enjoyed the cerebrally damaging effects of underage drinking in local nightclubs (which I took part in a little while after!)
After attending a talk on the political furore that surrounded the French Revolution, an older gentleman recommended an exhibition called High Spirits at the Buckingham Palace Queen’s Gallery, showing the works of Georgian caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson, a favourite of the notoriously naughty Prince Regent. The 18th century has been one of my favourite eras, initially just for its fabulous fashions, but now I’m beginning to understand that in many ways it was the first era that started to feel truly modern, with illustrations such as Rownlandson’s giving a little a little peak into the exciting moods of the time.
My next stop on the cultural your was to a booze-filled lecture on popular alcoholic drinks and perfumes during the 20th century, ranging from the Belle Époque, tasting Perrier Jouet, the champagne of choice in the salons of Oscar Wilde. We sampled fragrances and cocktails from the opulent 1920s, all the way up to the 1970s, when granny’s lavender perfume was all the rage.
Onto the Piccadilly Line I go, having an invite to the Parallax Art Fair in Chelsea Old Town Hall from a friend, Ewa, whom I met on my way to Russia in the summer.
I enjoy the visual arts on offer, but mostly the reactions to my outfit. I accompany my new friend down the King’s Road, babbling about the decadence of a Chelsea lifestyle, I playing along as much as he. I end the evening in a bar on Sloane Square, kisses à la Chelsea abundant before I leave for green Farnham, but a train from Waterloo away.