Friends, Books, Art, and London

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This week has treated me well. My university offers classes that study more in-depth the history and culture of London as well as take advantage of the galleries and museums that dot every corner. I am happy to be in a class called History of London. We have covered a wide range of history but it has all been specifically aimed at London and no other part of England. Our lecture takes place on Monday and on Wednesday we go out into the city as a class and visit museums and do walking tours of different areas in London. Without this class I wouldn’t have seen as much of London as I have. We see everything from tourist attractions to lesser-known London treasures.

Last week our lecture for History of London was on Charles Dickens and J.R.R. Tolkien. While I know it’s taboo to take the Tolkien name in vain, I am not very interested in his life or works. This didn’t serve me well this week as we delved deep into Tolkien’s personal life and had an in-depth look at theories inside The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings in my British Fantasy Writing class. However, Dickens sparked my interest. I didn’t know much about his personal life before the last two weeks. We had briefly touched on him in previous literature classes in the States but I gained a new respect for him after learning of his unfortunate childhood. What drew me to further study Charles Dickens was his resiliency as he was thrown into the working class and out of school around the age of ten. His father had lost all of his money and Charles was forced to work in a factory putting labels on jars instead of studying. Young Dickens never felt like a working class person. He felt out-of-place and knew that he wouldn’t settle for working in factories for the rest of his life. He was gifted in writing and business; so, he made writing his business. I have a certain respect for writers who can make writing their business. As a creative, I sometimes rely solely on inspiration to guide me through projects but that often leaves gaps in time where I am uninspired and feel I can’t produce any work. I have intentionally studied writers who make books a business and Dickens was great at it.

At first I thought that writing with the intention of publishing and making a large profit took the magic out of a book, but if we look at authors like J.K Rowling, we see that a little financial pressure can still procure magic. I made new goals for my own writing and have slowly been studying the great authors who lived in this city before me. London is an inspiring place for a literature major.

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For a fine arts credit I am also taking a class called Exploring Paint Media. We have the great opportunity to travel to various galleries throughout London and study art. We then bring our ideas and inspiration back to the studio and learn how to make it come to life. Painting is like a release for my brain. It is therapeutic and peaceful. We just finished handing in a transcription project where we worked on our own version of a famous painting inside the National Gallery. I chose a painting called Bathers by Cezanne. I worked on multiple variations of the work and learned from each one. This week we went to the Tate Modern to draw inspiration for our final project, which is a project from our own imagination. We are working on taking photos and collecting ideas for our final piece. I know that modern art is not for everyone, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard “I just don’t get it”. I am a fan of abstract art because it is based on emotion not gesture. You might not see a perfectly symmetrical face in the painting but you could be seeing the inner workings of someones psyche. The colors in abstract art are often used to tell the story. Some will be dark and disturbing. Some will be powerful and bright. As I slowly walked around the gallery with my music playing, gathering inspiration for my project, I was impressed by the size of the canvases, the different textures, and the explanation of each painting’s history.

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Photos from last week’s Bonfire night celebration (and first English holiday) in Orpington.

This week was a good week. I have been challenged intellectually and inspired creatively. I have had many yoga sessions within my little dorm room and many long runs in the park. I’ve had cups of hot chocolate, my first taste of Jamaican food, and laughs with great friends. I always feel fortunate to be living in London but this week I was able to more fully enjoy it as my homesickness decreased and I was able to find my rhythm again.

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