Shopping with a dollop of culture

English: Self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. R...
English: Self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. Red chalk. 33 × 21 cm. Turin, Royal Library (inv.no. 15571). NOTE This image is in red chalk. Do not revert to the black and white image. Deutsch: Kopf eines bärtigen Mannes, sog. Selbstbildnis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the fiasco of my last shopping trip, I swore that I was going to do the rest of my Christmas shopping online. For some unfathomable reason I deviated away from this sensible idea and decided that it would be easier to actually visit the city centre again. However, just in case my trip was as stressful as the last, I had a plan up my sleeve to help soothe any ruffled brow or calm any frazzled nerves I may develop. There is an exhibition of Leonardo Da Vinci sketches at my local art gallery, and this seemed the perfect way to end the day. Besides, I might even see the man with bare feet again (see my previous post The man with bare feet).

I would like to tell you that I was right to leave the comfort of my home to go shopping, but I would be lying. Every shop I visited didn’t have what I wanted. I’m not really a browsing sort of shopper. I like to pre-select my gifts, which usually means I can be in and out of shops in record time. However, not having what I want throws me a curved ball. Firstly, I wander round and round the store checking every shelf just in case I’ve missed whatever it is I’m looking for. This wastes a lot of time and doesn’t particularly put me in a good mood. When I finally accept that they don’t have what I want I then have the dilemma of either selecting something else or going home and ordering it online. The latter makes more sense, but I’m in the store and I’m feeling fractious and want to buy something NOW. But what? After dithering for quite some time I usually end-up leaving empty handed. I am so obviously made for internet shopping I can’t understand why I convince myself otherwise.

I was feeling exasperated at both the shops and myself as I headed for the art gallery. Contemplating the work of a genius was sure to have me feeling at peace and one with the world in no time. My local gallery has been somewhat blessed with exhibitions lately. Last autumn, they were the first gallery to proudly display a new David Hockney work. This was followed by the Andy Warhol exhibition, and now the Da Vinci sketches. No mean feat for a regional gallery. I was looking forward to being able to quietly wander around the exhibition soaking in the work of such an incredibly famous artist. There is nothing like the peace, tranquillity and calmness of a gallery to ease one’s soul. Except when I got there, there was no peace, tranquillity or calmness, and my soul was definitely not eased.

What I hadn’t taken into consideration was that was a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to view the work of Da Vinci; arguably one of the greatest artists who has ever live. Also the exhibition had only been running for a few days. As you can imagine it was packed to the rafters. Da Vinci’s sketches were beautiful and intricately drawn, and it was truly amazing to see them. However, as they were sketches, they were small and trying to view them around a sea of heads was not without its problems. It didn’t help that many of the other visitors were peering at the pictures with magnifying glasses (provided helpfully by the gallery). I found the whole thing quite distracting and it spoilt my enjoyment somewhat.

There was something else that also detracted from my enjoyment of the exhibition, only this time it wasn’t the man with bare feet. He had very wisely decided to stay away. If only I had had the sense to. This time it was a film crew from one of the local television stations. The cameraman had obtrusively positioned himself in the middle of the gallery, whilst the reporter went around trying to find someone, anyone to interview. It was clearly a bad day at the office for her as, whilst people were quite happy to chat to her off camera, when it came to their fifteen minutes moment they all became camera-shy. This meant as well as having to view the sketches around magnifying glasses and people’s heads, I also had to contend with hearing the reporter repeatedly trying to cajole and coax the public. No-one gave in. We are from Yorkshire after all and such flattery doesn’t wash with us. Funnily enough the reporter didn’t ask me. I guess the expression on my face was enough to put her off.

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