Sir John Soane’s House

More London freebies on Saturday in the form of modern art exhibition Everything At Once and Sir John Soane’s Museum. The two will take about an hour of your time and are only five minutes walk from each other, so they’re perfect for a not-too-taxing Saturday afternoon.

Everything At Once is, it says here, “..neither a chronological exhibition nor an encyclopaedic history of the gallery’s activities since 1967, rather it is an interconnected journey incorporating 45 works exploring experience, effect and event, invoking immediacy and immutability.

But ignore that.

Everything At Once collects artworks by a variety of artists, with a smattering of familiar names such as Anish Kapoor and Ai Weiwei. Some pieces you may like, some you may not. Don’t like a piece? Then move on, because there’s a lot of variety, and I guarantee you’ll find something to make you think, smile or raise an eyebrow.

The girls both loved it, and so did the Lovely Melanie and myself.One of my favourites was At the Edge of the World II by Anish Kapoor (known informally amongst us Carters as The Giant Hat).

At The Edge of the World II
At the Edge of the World II

As you walk underneath it the hollow interior becomes invisible, which plays strange tricks on the mind: you know it’s still there but can’t see it any more.

There’s also a pretty awesome sound and vision installation on the ground floor by an artist whose name I forget, that uses strobes, striking black and white geometric lines and some pretty harsh electronica. Millie and the Lovely Melanie decided against going in, but Amber and I were both amazed.

(Plus, I must confess it always warms my heart to see a nine-year-old dancing and laughing amidst the po-faced hipsters.)

Sir John Soane’s Museum is the complete opposite of Everything At Once.

20171028_1501261351791613.jpgLocated just around the corner in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, it’s the former home of the 19th-century architect John Soane, left untouched since he died in 1837.

Soane was a collector of antiquities, and filled his remarkable home with them, creating a “small” museum of beautiful ancient treasures.

Personally, I found the house slightly more interesting than these treasures, because nothing is labelled or explained. One of the curators happily explained that this was because he wanted visitors to question things, to understand by themselves, and possibly to explore new perspectives.

It’s also, as I later realised when viewing the sarcophagus of Seti I, because the Rosetta Stone had only just been discovered and often didn’t know what they were looking at.

But the house – oh, the house! A wonderful rambling labyrinth, stuffed to bursting with Very Old Things; there are windows that look out upon tiny unexpected terraces, skylights in all sort of unusual places, and all given a warm Mediterranean tint by the deliberately yellow glass.

Try and visit on a clear day, if possible – I’m told Soane welcomed visitors to his house, but only on sunny days. If it was overcast or raining (or, I suppose, night) you’d be turned away.

And did I mention it’s free? It’s free!

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