Author: Guhin, Paula
Date published: March 1, 2012
Journal code: IAAC
Often overshadowed in people's minds by Paris, London is truly an artist's jewel. The art and architecture, history, gardens and museums are inspiring, yes, but there's so much more to this ancient city. The performances, attractions and markets are a boon to the creative soul. You'll return to your classroom invigorated and excited to share your British experiences.
THE ARTIST'S WAT I took along a sketchbook, a compact travel-set of watercolors, a few brushes, pens and markers. A plastic water cup and paper napkins were easy to acquire once I was there. I also carried two cameras everywhere (one analog - usually with black and white film - and one digital).
CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP! London can be surprisingly inexpensive to visit Gazing at statues, browsing in bookstores, crossing the Thames on foot bridges, enjoying a "spot of tea" - all these and more are free, or nearly so.
My bed and breakfast was less pricey than a hotel, and it was delightful with its old-world charm. Such inns usually include a continental breakfast, of course.
Many London museums are free, and some others offer a reduced rate later in the day. (Be advised, you may not be allowed to photograph private collections. Hit the gift shop instead.)
Buses and "the tube" (subway) are inexpensive transport, especially with a London Visitor Travel Card. Avoid the underground during rush hour if possible. Too, instead of spending money on cab fare, just walk - a lot
You can pick up numerous souvenirs at no cost and use them as mixedmedia art materials: maps, brochures, flyers, odd candy wrappers and more.
IN THE ART DEPARTMENT Who can resist an art-supplies store? Cass Art is open every day, and there's a branch at 13 Charing Cross Road, just around the corner from the National Portrait Gallery. Watch for "specials" - often a very good buy.
See the comprehensive collections of sublime paintings and more at the National Galleries and the two Tates (Tate Britain and Tate Modern). And, the Victoria and Albert Museum of Art and Design is a must-see. Then there's the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, naturally.
Don't miss The Black Friar pub at 174 Queen Victoria Street, Black&iars. This narrow, wedge-shaped pub, built in 1875, has jutting wrought-iron signs and lots of mosaic tiles. There's a statue of a large, laughing friar above the main door. If s the interior, though, that is truly extraordinary - with marble, mosaic and bas-relief sculpture. It's a genuine work of art
ENCOURAGING THE CREATIVE SPIRIT I relished exploring new neighborhoods - even Highgate Cemetery! Flocks of school children in their uniforms, English prams, red phone booths, bobbies - they all fed and energized my muse. London can do the same for you and your students.
Paula Guhin is the author of a number of art books and serves as a Contributing Editor for Arts & Activities. She is retired from teaching and now blogs at mixedmediamanic.blogspot.com.