Next stop on the day trip to London was the house of architect Sir John Soane (1753-1837). The renowned architect, who’s buildings include the Bank of England and Dulwich Picture Gallery, first purchased number twelve Lincoln Inn Fields in 1792, and later bought the two houses next to it to create the one huge connecting space that exists today. The thought process behind this was to retain number twelve as his personal residence, to utilise number thirteen, which he purchased in 1807, as a museum to house his gargantuan number of artefacts, and fourteen, purchased in 1824, partly as a gallery room extension to thirteen, and partly to retain as a residence which he rented out. When Soane passed away in 1837, the house was opened up as a public exhibition and has remained a free attraction ever since, as were his wishes. The house survives on donations and volunteers and is to this day a popular tourist attraction. Housed inside, where unfortunately photographs are not allowed, are antiques, furniture, sculptures, architectural models, paintings, and over 30,000 architectural drawings, as well as a vast research library. Firstly, the museum opens up onto rather empty living quarters which paint a picture of how life would have been in the house. However, as soon as you hit the museum space, you are completely surrounded by artefacts of every style imaginable. It is impossible to look in any direction and find a blank space on the wall; even the floor was littered with statues, both broken and complete. The winding passages lead off in many different directions and it takes a strong will and a mass of concentration to focus on where you’re going and to make sure you aren’t walking into an antique mirror. The dim, atmospheric lighting in no way aides this struggle! I felt instantly transported to being a child and having your parents taking you into a store selling glassware or other breakables, and the sheer fear you feel about knocking something off and breaking it; my arms were well and truly glued to by sides just in case! The architectural drawings in this museum were a true highlight for me. Scale plans and sections are very high on my list of favourite things that I do, and to see the incredible detail in the most lavish styles of building hand drawn on paper was fascinating to me!
By this time my day is running pretty late. I’m booked on a late train back up to Manchester and luckily my trip happens to fall on the first UNIQLO Tate Late of 2017. On the last Friday of every month, the Tate Modern opens it’s doors later and offers an interactive art experience with music, film, workshops, and food and drink, in partnership with Japanese fashion brand UNIQLO. I was rather strapped for time at this point but the atmosphere alone of the tate was one of intrigue and excitement. The exhibitions on show and the large collection of creative minds all in one space was electric. The night that I was there, the Tate was celebrating American artist Robert Rauschenberg and as such has displays of sound, performance, and pop art.