Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tower of London, Whitechapel gallery, Brick Lane

Dear Blog,

It's me, Celine. On Wednesday we went to the Tower of London, then to the Whitechapel gallery. We finished with a late lunch on Brick Lane, known for its Indian and Bangladeshi food.
The Tower of London was not as bloody as I imagined. I had built up in my mind this idea that there would be blood still staining the walls from centuries of executions. This was not the case. Like many amazing buildings, its mazes of spiral staircases and precarious walkways had been cleaned, covered, stopped up, stunted and pruned to fit into the practical limitations of a tourist attraction. But like all such places, the imagination cannot help but roam the halls that are blocked, and the magic of a place with so much history is quickly internalized, to be digested at a later date. In many of the towers, there was centuries old graffiti covering the walls. The cream covered walls (possibly soapstone?) had initials, prayers, symbols of Jesus and the virgin, and in one case an imprisoned astrologer had carved a bas-relief of a globe on a rotating base. Some were, raw, hurried, while others were deep and had been carved in slow detail. Almost all the carvings were covered by clear plexiglass and bolted into the walls. It struck me as sad and slightly absurd that these desperate acts of remembrance were being cut off from the present and the future; they were being frozen- wouldn't it be wonderful to allow the building and the messages it contained to live on by allowing them to change? This is whimsical, to be sure. It was incredible to see those dimly and deeply scratched words from hundreds of years ago, and if people continued to leave their marks, in time the old would be erased. Which I suppose it will, anyways. The plexiglass simply delays the inevitable.

No comments:

Post a Comment