I hope you’ve had wonderful Christmases and New Years – I definitely did! 2017 may have dawned, but I still have lots of exciting things to share from 2016, so I hope you will forgive me for diving back in time a bit. Hopefully I will catch myself up soon!
So, after a whirlwind of new starts in August, the finding of fabulous housemates, and a fuller diary than I’ve ever had in my life, we alight on Thursday 20th October 2016. Or, as I prefer to title it, The Magical Museum Evening where I ate the Most Exquisite Canapes I have Ever Eaten. (arguably also the only canapes I have eaten, but shhh…)
The setting of this extravaganza was the Sir John Soane’s Museum, where an exhibition on the Lansdowne Gallery (which was created to house a wonderful collection of mid-18th century sculpture) was just opening that night. The academic expert on the Gallery, and curator of the exhibition, is also a reader at the ICS library, and she very kindly invited us all to the opening. I fear I won’t be able to capture the full wonder of the experience, but I shall try, in my best writer-ly fashion, to at least give you a hint of it.
During his lifetime, Sir John Soane (an architect who virtually rebuilt the Bank of England) collected many many many antiquities, sculptures and paintings, and they are now displayed in his house at Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The first room we gathered in (where we were greeted by champagne!) was just full of pieces; vases, busts, even the paintings on the ceiling were Classical in theme! We must have circulated in there for over an hour and I was still finding things I hadn’t noticed! It was a little over-awing to be in a room full of people from the British Museum, and Christie’s, and other similarly grand establishments, but I very much enjoyed how the hum of their (presumably) rarefied conversation ebbed and swelled around me.
The canapes were brought round on clear trays, which had flowers and crystal beads inside them, and each one was perfectly proportioned to be one mouthful. At this point I became very grateful that I was neither a) a fussy eater, b) allergic to anything, or c) a vegetarian, as that meant I could simply take the beautiful offerings without needing to ask what they were (an often difficult task in a noisy room). There was five-spice duck topped with orange gel; herby prawns on skewers of twisted wood; artichoke hearts with olives; beetroot macaroons with goat’s cheese; crab in crispy pastry; mini tartlets with cheese and caramelised onion, and a host more that I’ve forgotten! They were all delicious, and brought round by lovely people who weaved expertly through the crowd and whose smiles never faltered.
There were short speeches, and then we went through into the museum proper. It was candlelit, and everything was jumbled wonderfully together (jumbled in the sense that pieces of different sorts and from different time periods stood side by side, not in the sense that it was disorganised). There was something very mystical about seeing larger-than-life-sized statues, and then cups no wider than my hand, positioned next to each other, and if my life really was a movie I am sure I would have stumbled across some magical artifact hidden among all the rest. I particularly enjoyed the picture gallery, where secret panels opened out to show paintings beyond paintings, which was just breathtaking.
The exhibition was upstairs; rooms of information about the Lansdowne collection and the difficulties in deciding how to house it (Which statue(s) should be the focal point? Which ones worked well as a group? What sort of space would showcase them best? etc.) Most of them were of Classical figures, so reading about them was, of course, was the most interesting bit for me!
Then there were more paintings to see, and the dessert canapes, which were just as delicious as the earlier ones. Mini peach brulees; brownies topped with honeycomb; salted caramel covered in chocolate; and, the culinary pinnacle for me, strawberry ice-cream bon bons! They were so cold it was difficult to pull them off their skewers, but they were absolutely delicious. It was a spread worthy of Narnia (and anyone who knows me knows that is a very high accolade)!
Despite how it may seem from what I’ve focused on, I did enjoy the museum and the exhibition just as much as the food! There were just so many different curiosities that it would take far too long to describe them all, whereas hopefully everyone can imagine the canapes. Since this was the event that made me think ‘I’d better start writing these adventures down or I’m going to forget them all’, and thus, in a sense, birthed this blog, I hope I have done it justice! Here is the link to the museum website, if anyone wants to find out more, and I would thoroughly recommend going there to anyone in London. It’s free admission, and they do candlelit evenings!!!
As always, thank you for reading! Feel free to comment/share/subscribe/do other tech-y things, or simply just enjoy. For my next post I intend to leave the library world temporarily and either talk about why Classics is wonderful, or my authorial endeavours so far/why books are amazing – whichever fancy takes me when I sit down to it (or whichever one you would rather read about). Also a huge thank you to everyone who has subscribed and/or got in touch with me as a result of the blog. It has been so lovely to hear from you all, and I really value the support a lot.