nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic

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Searching for Alice

In the New York Public Library, “The ABC of it: why children’s books matter“. What a fabulous new exhibition on the history of children’s literature. From an original water colour done by Beatrix Potter and given to the NYPL Children’s Librarian of the time to the ever expanding neck of Alice in Wonderland, this is a wonderfully curated gem in the heart of the 42nd Street library. If you are less than 4 feet tall you too can fall down the rabbit hole – or keep going in and out, as J did repeatedly. Or you can snuggle up to the furry Gruffalo and be grateful he’s only there in outline. And I was pleased to see that Winnie and friends had been let out of the their rather sad home in the Children’s Library, to be propped up in much nicer surroundings at the heart of the exhibition. Free and on until March 2014, catch it, if you can.

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Miss you, Tate

I was a friend of the Tate for many years in London. I went to pretty much every exhibition they did in both Tate Modern and in Tate Britain. I worked very close to Tate Modern in the last few years and wandered around at lunchtime, but not as often as I should. And now I’m here in NYC, living about the same distance from the Met. On Saturday I read the FT’s review of the new exhibition, “Lowry and the painting of modern life” at Tate Britain and I felt sad. Sad, not because it was a poor review, in fact the review was brimming with enthusiasm, signing off that it was “a revelatory, enjoyable, historically significant show”. Sad because I can’t go. I console myself with having been to the Lowry gallery in Salford, but it was a long time ago. If you’re in London before 20 October, go and see it and think of me, nyc-newbie.



From punk to toddler

Well, that’s not quite the title of the fairly new exhibition at the Met, but that is what I renamed it for this afternoon. Taking advantage of a 7 year old-free afternoon, I took J to the Met to see the Punk: from chaos to couture exhibit. I thought it would be reasonably quiet given it’s Friday afternoon and near closing time on a nice, sunny day. And it was. Sort of. I planned it meticulously so that J was in his buggy with snacks, trapped and safely away from the dozens of mannequins sporting bizarre wigs that I’d spied on the exhibit website. Err, well, that would have worked if I hadn’t been banned from taking the buggy in: ‘we don’t allow strollers into exhibits, ma’am’. Arse. I’m here. I’m prepared. I’ll risk it.

And J was the only child there.

I know a bit about fashion and it was great to see so much Vivienne Westwood – although I note she is actually the same age as my mum! We enjoyed the urinals and their graffiti strewn walls, safely hidden behind a perspex screen. J enjoyed the plinths hosting the mannequins of Amazonian proportions but unfortunately they were all alarmed, so every time J went near, the alarm went off and we were scowled at. He loved the enormous screens showing distorted images of Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten with a punk soundtrack. The staging of this exhibition is fabulous. One room has fake vaulted brick walls to look as if you are in a cellar, painted black as a fantastic backdrop to the fashion. It’s a fine line between stimulation and sheer terror for J, who often sought refuge by grabbing my legs. And my favourite bit? The final mannequin wearing nothing but a few lines of black tape with her middle finger held aloft.

And then you go next door and you enter a room of Monet paintings and think happy thoughts as you wander further and stumble across a few Van Goghs or a Gauguin or two. In just a 15 minute walk from our apartment, we can be here amongst the most amazing art in the world: this truly is the privilege of living in NYC.