Monday, 19 October 2009

a birthday in brighton...(part 1)

That's it. Gone. Goodbye sweet twenties. Hello thirties, which I am told is the new twenties.

Now, I try not to get myself too bothered with the whole 'age' thing - I never feel any different, and don't think I really will change too much more (character wise) for the rest of my days, but it was quite nice being in my 'twenties'.

No more.

So to celebrate the supposed passing of my youth, we spent the day in my wonderful home town of Brighton, doing the sort of thing you never do as a resident - visiting art exhibitions, galleries and museums. It was fantastic, so here is the first in two installments of how our day panned out...

First up was the wonderful and highly sentimental The Booth Museum of Natural History. Situated on the outskirts of Brighton, The Booth is a Victorian based collection of taxidermy animals, birds, skeletons, butterflies, moths and insects. It is dark, smells a bit musty and is very old fashioned - no high tech interactive displays here.

But this is exactly why I like it. I remember spending hours as a child sitting on the floor sketching the birds captured in mid flight and gazing at the drawers of butterflies.

It may seem cruel now, but The Booth is a piece of history that is to be treasured, as it shows the basis of much of our natural history knowledge. The fact that such a large collection is still together is wonderful, and truly is awe inspiring, if not a little nostalgic.

Next, we headed into Brighton and had a wonder around the lovely Jubilee Library in centre of the city - the best piece of contemporary architecture we have had in a very long time...

The third visit of the day was an incredible and unexpected find - a temporary exhibition in the old music library. Once a gloriously regency styled building, the old music library fell into disrepair as more music was available online and the collection was finally moved and integrated into the Jubilee.

Once divided rooms were knocked through into one large space, with paint, paper and fittings gradually falling onto the bare timber floor as time progressed. It was very sad to see this lovely building decline, as again, I remember fondly trips into town to borrow classical music scores and tapes when I was studying music and playing in orchestras.

But it is now occupied once more.

A temporary exhibition of graffiti and street artists has taken residence in the sad old space and given it a new lease of life.

It showed the very fine line between what people would consider art and what people would see as vandalism - massive spraypainted dead crows and cockroaches, multicoloured panels and sculptures made from bits of dead furniture.

The main street level had a good 'get people in' view, but it was the upstairs and basement space that really got me excited.

On approaching the stairs you are confronted by a massive recycled timber arm and hand, punching through a hole in the ceiling to greet you on the top handrail. Then you see the immense rat and the giant dead crow, perfectly framed in the curved recess of the room. (ROA is a genius and definitely wins the face off with BestEver, which is the basis of the ground and first floors)

The basement was a little less impressive with its contents, but the atmosphere was incredible. Dark, bare and secret, with illuminating punches from bare bulbs and an oddly fitting chandelier - a nod to the grandeur of the past with the reality of the current disrepair.

Please go and see this exhibition if you are anywhere near Brighton. It is wonderful.

Next time - faces, the land army and mummified cats.

1 comment:

  1. Oh happy birthday, Claire. When was it? - you must be a Libran too. (My birthday on Sunday was wonderful too, shepherding aviators to a pub lunch after they flew in to our local airfield.) Ann.