7.2.08

Dulwich day out


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Originally uploaded by fred pipes.

My trip out with my newish Giant Halfway 7 folding bike didn't start well. The little tyres were squidgy and they had a different valve to my workhorse Giant Stonebreaker! It has Presta valves, but with a bit of fiddling about (you have to unwind the nipple bit to let the air in) and adjusting of my pump (two plastic things inside the business end had to be turned around and replaced) I got them nice and firm. It was on Brighton station that I realised I'd forgotten to bring a lock, so I cycled down the hill and popped the one from my other bike in my bag and so it was back to London Road station for the second time! The trip to London on the fast train was uneventful - I parked my bike (unfolded) in the designated place by the toilet. Then I wheeled it around to Platform 3 at Victoria for the Orpington train (no cycle space, so i stuck it by the door). First obstacle was at West Dulwich ststion - steps! Hmm not too bad going down, but I'd have to lug it up again on the way back. Then onto the streets of London and a cycle lane most of the way to Dulwich Picture Gallery, where a row of cycle racks outside cheered the heart.

I was there for The Age of Enchantment exhibition, subtitled 'Beardsley, Dulac and their Contemporaries 1890-1930'. It was fabulous. Starting with a whole room of delicious Beardsleys, it led onto room upon room of artwork from the golden age of illustration, with some of the greatest penmanship (and penwomanship) known to man (and woman). From Beardsley's Gothic followers such as the saucy Harry Clarke, Laurence Houseman, Charles Ricketts, and Charles Robinson (no William Heath or Thomas) - but it was great to be able to see his pencil markings to the printer in the margins - through obsessive Glasgow ladies, such as Jessie Marion King, whose 'The White Lady' - drawn on vellum with added touches of silver - has some of the most microscopic pen lines I've ever seen! Through the weirdness of Sidney Sime, to a couple of Rackhams, to the wacky Detmold twins (with Edward's furry animals almost as good as Alan Baker's), to a room devoted to Edmund Dulac. Now, I've seen Dulac's before and was amazed by their colour, not always emulated in the printed book, but I admit being slightly disappointed by this selection, which with a couple of exceptions including the poster for the exhibition, appeared dark and overworked. By the last room we are now into the more decorative Art Deco style and the exhibition concludes with a plate by Clarice Cliff to commemorate Frank Brangwyn's ill-fated House of Lords murals. The exhibition continues until 17 February. Take a magnifying glass.

On the way out I popped into a room containing six (out of a possible seven) pictures of St Sebastian by Guido Reni. It was spot the difference with four of them almost identical (one from a place called Ponce in New Zealand) and another pair similarly similar. Two compositions; six paintings! Remarkable. Apparently if your name is Sebastian you can get in free. The cafe was a bit full of old ladies, so I got on my bike to explore Dulwich Village and a splendid Victorian pub The Crown and Greyhound. I entered through the billiard room (alas with no billiard table) and ordered a lunchtime special of soup (brocolli and stilton) and half a sandwich (crayfish) with a pint of Harvey's. Then it was back to West Dulwich, and all those steps up to the platform, back to Victoria, and again a fast train to Brighton just before the rush hour. Final test for the Halfway was shopping, where the 4-for-3 offer on the beer at Sainsbury's put the 10kg limit of the pannier carrier to the test! Luckily it was downhill all the way home. Will have to sort out some smaller panniers that don't catch on the back wheel!

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