Thursday, 20 August 2009

Banksy v Museum

Before going away to India I organised a little surprise for May that we could both enjoy on my return. When we saw the fuss about Banksy secretly taking over Bristol museum for the summer we said "we must go to that", so I booked train tickets and a one night stay in the Hotel du Vin Bristol via an Asperity "Great Mates" offer of £69 B&B. I told May to pack an overnight bag and be home from work by 5pm on the Friday and then bundled her onto the bus down to the station. At the station she was certain we were headed for London and she remained pleasingly puzzled for the rest of the journey. Only when we disembarked in Bristol did she put it all together and realise that we'd come for Banksy.

The Hotel du Vin Bristol was excellent, we checked in and were personally guided up to our lovely room. The bedroom was large and well appointed and the bathroom had a freestanding bath and huge wet room style shower. As I'd landed from India that morning, I was flagging by this point and rather than going out to eat we ordered some delicious room service (mussels for May, pork Milanese for me) and retired. In the morning I felt rather smug as for the first time in my life I was the first person into the breakfast room. As we ate we eyeballed the rival couples as they came in and started playing "guess who's going to Banksy". As we checked out, it transpired that seemingly everyone from the HdV was headed for Banksy which gave me a nice sense of belonging to a slightly smug, luxury hotel and culture loving set of people.

We were out of the hotel a little later than we'd planned, so we got to the museum at 09:45 which turned out to be a little late. The doors open at 10am, but by the time we arrived the queue was already ballistic. I think we'd overestimated the exhibition waning in popularity and underestimated the effect of being there on a Saturday. As we looked for the back of the queue, we got our first taste of the takeover on spotting a disheveled Ronald McDonald perched on a ledge way up high above the door forlornly clutching a half-empty bottle of spirits.

We ended up queueing for 2 hours 20 minutes, but it wasn't too arduous as the queue was incredibly well managed and everyone was very friendly. When we arrived the queue was split into 3 sections, a short section along the pavement, a long section of wiggling barriers down a closed road and then the queue into the museum. To prevent the queue from blocking the frontage of shops and restaurants, there's a gap between the first and second queues and you need a stamp on your hand to from the second queue to get into the first. Helpfully there's an ice cream van integrated into the queue and also lot of helpful signs giving you an indication of how much time you have left to wait.

On entry you're given a Banksyfied museum guide to help you find the "boring old plates" and "dead things in boxes". In the exhibition there are 3 large rooms given over totally to Banksy works and then other pieces interspersed with the museum's normal exhibits. This works really well as you end up experiencing the museums impressive collection almost by stealth as you play hunt the Banksy. Banksy's work is subversive, relevant, witty, laugh-out-loud funny and often very close to the bone. His art is deliciously immediate, but sometimes forgettable - there were some very memorable pieces but I'm not sure how many of the 111 on display I could tell you about in detail. My personal highlight was the insightful room of Banksy's stuff containing sketches, plans, cut-outs, photos and spray cans; the picture below was inspired by a newspaper clipping which had a photo of a group of riot police looking stern in a field, the telling scribble on the clipping read "make them skip".

Picture used under creative commons, taken by jo92

We spent about 2 and a half hours in the exhibition and I was struck by just what a clever exhibition it is. It's turned Bristol into a must-visit destination this summer and also highlighted how good Bristol museum is even without any Banksy work in it. The real genious is the way the way in which the Banksy pieces are interwoven with the permanent collection, inviting you to learn about dinosaurs, geology, chinese history and more as you search out the Banksy touches.

The exhibition runs until August 31st, so stop reading this now, grab your best queueing boots and go.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Status: July

July 1
08:58 Tim is headed for Prague. Woo!
12:55 Tim is on the 13.10 easyJet Stansted to Prague. See you in a bit.
15:31 Tim has landed in Prague, going to try and find somewhere to watch the Murray match.

July 2
00:17 Tim has a sweepstake on what time Jezworld will get to bed.
00:25 Tim is suffering unnecessary hicoughs. Boo.
11:06 Tim is pretty glad he's a very deep sleeper.

July 3
02:30 Tim has had a long day in Prague. In bed now with tip top room mate Jezworld within touching distance.
13:51 Tim just had some amazing games of table football. I'd forgotten how much fun it is,.
14:30 Tim is drinking Schofferhofer, raffing free wifi from the Haagendaz shop and watching the Prague bin men collect dvds and cds out of the bins they're emptying.
19:37 Tim is a good mixer.
22:26 Tim has pretty much had enough beer.
23:48 Tim had his buttons pushed, and crossed the line.

July 4
02:24 Tim is up late with Jez and Paul.
14:02 Tim is photographing the lightning behind Prague Castle while waiting for the airport transfer.
20:48 Tim is back in the UK, done Stansted Express and traversed London, now on the train to Winch from Waterloo. Beautiful evening.

July 6
08:34 Tim is not happy to be back on the commuter train, the only thing keeping me going is the 'nodding dog' sleeping woman opposite. Head slumps down, head goes up, down, up, down, up...
15:38 Tim is really going to Delhi. Passport sent of to the Visa office and vaccinations tomorrow.
21:49 Tim is trying to think about his 30th birthday celebrations. Suggestions? Who wants to come?

July 7
11:20 Tim has got tickets for Orbital at the Brixton Academy on September 25th, woop woop! Thanks Jaye. :).
16:40 Tim is headed home early to pick up an A3 demonstrator (yay) and get vaccinations for India (boo).
20:41 Tim is arms full of various diseases following vaccinations for Delhi. Only had a minor freak out. It's tricky, do you assume you'll be fine and apply pressure to yourself OR assume you'll freak and become a self-fulfilling prophecy?
22:43 Tim 's right arm hurts real bad. Bet you a fiver that one was diphtheria, tetanus and polio.

July 8
14:49 Tim can confirm he is still alive and not in a vaccination induced coma. I just had a very long sleep.

July 9
18:34 Tim is going to meet Paul's baby!
23:12 Tim is on the most packed, pissed head filled, South West trains disaster yet.

July 10
20:33 Tim had a sweet bit of tapas with Da Heath and his amazing hair. Good to catch up.

July 11
16:19 Tim is a bit concerned he might be turning into a tooth gnasher.
22:48 Tim failed to retain his title as Tesco Basingstoke charity quiz champion by 1/2 a point.

July 13
16:36 Tim is listening to Backdoor Boogie on his shiny new iPod Nano. BB makes up about 25% of the tunes on there right now.

July 14
08:30 Tim is getting to know some commuting faces. Today I have spotted grumpy laptop wielding middle aged woman who I saw yesterday. She's doing spreadsheets again, like she always is. I wonder what she's calculating?
15:28 Tim would like to be a Goldman Sachs employee right now please.
20:20 Tim is arrrrghhhhshutupshutupshutupyouheavybreathingtrainfreakazoidarrrrrrggggghhhhhshutup.
23:31 Tim is the motherflippin'. Who's the motherflippin'? Rhymenocerous and Hiphopopotamus ftw.

July 15
11:37 Tim suffered a total power failure this morning. Netbook, phone and iPod all ran out of juice on the commute to work.
18:38 Tim got pwned by the London Bridge escalator failure and missed his train. Diversion cost me vital minutes in my finely tuned commute plan.
18:53 Tim wouldn't have made the train even if the London Bridge escalator had been working - all the escalators up from the Jubilee line were out of action too. 3/4 broken and 1 coming down. Knob jockeys.
July 18
16:04 Tim short 2.5k run today - followed by retail therapy in town. I'm propping up the economy with home wares.
20:55 Tim is off to Dean's for cocktails. In your faces!

July 16
08:35 Tim is making a start on season 1 of 24 on his new iPod.
14:43 Tim 's sore teeth are being caused by an inflamed gum. Hard brushing and Corsodyl is the prescription.

July 17
08:07 Tim has done his morning Corsodyl mouthwash , it is horrible. I suspect it's going to make my breakfast on the train taste rank. Damn you inflamed gums!
12:54 Tim has an unreasonable Borough Market rage. So much bimbling.
18:44 Tim is on the train trying out his new tablet laptop. The handwriting recognition is pretty impressive.

July 19
19:16 Tim is packing for Delhi. Passport, check. Immodium, check. Deet, check.

July 20
08:58 Tim is hanging about in the BA lounge at T5. Already had a robot chair massage and now having breakfast. It's nice, but it's no Virgin.
19:21 Tim has landed in Delhi and eventually found his driver in the sea of faces. It's very hot and the traffic is pretty manic. Lots of horn honking.

July 21
20:26 Tim has had a good first day in India. I survived the commute, got treated unsettlingly like royalty at work, had a swim, had my first genuine Indian curry (chana masala) and had a nice chat with May.

July 22
06:46 Tim is cooler today, but the traffic was more mental. There was a total solar eclipse this morning between 06:20 and 06:25 and the newspaper has a story on how expecting mothers don't want to give birth today as it's bad luck.
15:11 Tim can't believe he missed this centuries longest total eclipse. I could have seen that if I'd known. Gutted.
20:18 Tim has had a good 2nd day. Work was good and I caused some office hilarity with my Hindi phrases. Ran some 12 minutes of intervals on the running machine and then went back to Bikanervala (Indian Burger King) for thali which cost me £1.50. I've also ponied up for the internet at the hotel - £65 for 7 days!

July 23
13:53 Tim just got taken outside to see the rain that arrived in Delhi. It was spectacular, torrential rain with huge raindrops.
14:57 Tim is going to Barbecue Nation in Gurgaon with Mr Guarav:

July 24
07:42 Tim remembered to turn the aggressive hotel aircon back on before going to sleep last night (unlike Weds), but still had bad dreams. Maybe it's the curry?
08:21 Tim just went through the fire drill in the office. Down 7 flights of stairs, stand in the blazing sun for 10 mins and then back up 7 flights. Sweating profusely.
19:04 Tim has finished his first working week in Delhi. Bed now as I'm going to the Taj Mahal tomorrow and the tour sets off at 06:30 (that's 2am British time difference fans).

July 25
07:19 Tim is totally at the Taj Mahal.
11:49 Tim is on the way back from Agra. The repetitious tour guide has lodged facts in my head. Taj Mahal means crown palace, completed in 22 years, built by 6th king in memory of late wife...
14:56 Tim is nearly back from Agra (I think), I feel like I've been in this car forever.

July 26
07:55 Tim just had an Avurvedic massage and steam bath, very nice it was too. Now off into Delhi for some shopping and tourism.
11:05 Tim is queueing to get into Akshardam in Delhi.
15:14 Tim just set a new distance record on the treadmill, 4km in 21mins. Got some badass assisted stretches from the nice Crowne Plaza gym guy afterwards too. Knackered now.

July 27
16:48 Tim is lolling at the discovery that his hotel classes Fosters as "Indian Beer".
21:50 Tim is awake with mild Delhi Belhi. I guess it had to happen.

July 28
17:08 Tim is in need of some nail scissors. Rampant big toe nail alert. Perhaps I'll see if I can find that roadside camel again for a trim.

July 29
15:31 Tim only one more day in the office in India, then home tomorrow night. My Indian colleagues threw a rather sweet "farewell tea party" for me today.
16:35 Tim was going to got out for dinner, but just looked at the time an realised that I have to pack for coming home. Room service to the rescue, although I am unnecessarily covered in insect repellent.

July 30
07:46 Tim had homemade aloo parantha and pickle made by Geeta's Mum for breakfast. It was delish.21:27 Tim now onboard BA142 from Delhi to Heathrow. Club World seat 12K in the sharp end of the plane.
12:19 Tim is hitting a n00b tolerance wall in the office. I'm ready to come home now.
15:34 Tim has finished work and said goodbyes. I have a lovely card and an 'interesting' gift. Now I just have to kill time until take off at 02:45 . 6 hours 45 to go.
17:53 Tim killed a good amount of time with a synchronised massage at the hotel. I can confirm that double the therapists equals more the twice the enjoyment.
19:06 Tim has said a sad farewell to Mr Satpal and is checked in at Delhi airport. I am gonna miss having a driver.

July 31
06:49 Tim is back back back back yay woo yay! Landed early so trapped on the plane waiting for the buses to get to T5.
09:11 Tim had a shower, a shave, breakfast and a massage in the T5 arrivals lounge. Now in the car home, 10 mins till May! Woo!
17:09 Tim has engaged operation Surprise May Treat!
19:41 Tim is pretty pleased that May still has no idea where she's going.
21:41 Tim will put you all out of your misery. I've brought May to Bristol. Staying in the Hotel du Vin and then going o the Banksy exhibition today.