Wandering around London in January, Paige Braddock and I found ourselves questioning what this strange thumbs up sculpture is all about.
We learned that the Fourth Plinth, built in 1841, in Trafalgar Square in central London was originally meant to hold a statue of William IV, but remained empty due to insufficient funds. Now, over 150 years later, the plinth hosts a rotating series of commissioned artworks, including this David Shrigley sculpture of a hand giving a thumbs up, titled ‘Really Good’.
Finally, we found our way to Somerset House, located on the south side of the Strand in central London, overlooking the River Thames. One of the galleries here will host an exhibition from the Schulz Museum later this year.
Somerset House from the bridge across the Thames.
Somerset House from the street. The building has a rich history dating back to the 16th century.
We were greeted by Claire Caterall, Somerset House Curator, and Jonathan Reekie, Director of Somerset House Trust, who showed us through the enormous and historic building. They had visited the Schulz Museum here in Santa Rosa in 2017 to discuss the upcoming exhibition.
One of the two beautiful staircases we traversed. This is the Nelson Stair, which was originally called the Navy Staircase. It leads to the Navy Boardroom that hosted meetings that were attended by Lord Nelson once the Navy Board moved to Somerset House in 1789.
The Miles Stair, located in the West Wing, is an engineering marvel. The treads and landings are made from a material called ductal, which is a thousand times stronger than concrete. The entire structure appears to be floating.
Looking into the courtyard of Somerset House.
There is an outdoor skating rink installed in the courtyard during winter holiday months. It was just being dismantled the day we arrived. It seems lovely to be able to ice skate surrounded by history.
The ground floor of Somerset House is home to a large creative community with studios and office space for artists and budding enterprises to work and collaborate with one another.
The next day we visited CPLG, the agency that licenses Peanuts in the UK. In their large open plan office space, they have these cubicles for private meetings. Here I am talking with Stephanie Betts from DHX Media in Toronto.
This zigzag-frosted cake and Snoopy cookies were a great Peanuts welcome from our new agents.
Our next visit was to WildBrain, an animation studio staffed by very bright and creative young people. Note the obligatory ping pong table. WildBrain will be creating Peanuts ‘shorts’ for YouTube.
After our meeting at WildBrain, we walked through the Lumiere London Light Festival on our way to dinner. The festival was an after-dark art exhibition with over 50 artworks and installations.
This installation by Daan Roosegaarde called ‘Waterlicht’ was supposed to make you feel as if you were walking underwater. The photos really don’t do it justice. It was spectacular and turned a cold January night into a thrilling outdoor adventure, and this was only 1 of 50 spread throughout London.