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Day trip to London
Mike Laycock enjoys a healthy dose of art during a day trip to the capital.
What and where? The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman by Grayson Perry at the British Museum and Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination at the British Library.
Why? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like the latest exhibition by the flamboyant, motorbike-riding, cross-dressing potter Grayson Perry – certainly not at the British Museum.
At the entrance, I walked past his pink, blue and white, custom-made motorbike, complete with a teddy bear in a shrine on the back, and things just carried on getting stranger inside.
His childhood teddy, called Alan Measles, which he took on a pilgrimage around Germany on the motorbike, pops up in several places.
Then there are elaborate tapestries, a decorated iron sculpture of a coffin-ship sailing into the afterlife and pots, many stylistically based on Chinese, Greek and Etruscan urns and vases. It quickly became clear Perry is more than a mere self-publicising artist but a true craftsman, albeit with a quirky if not bizarre sense of humour.
His works are all mixed in here with items from the museum’s collection, from Celtic sculptures to Egyptian plates, made by anonymous craftsmen and women throughout history – hence the exhibition’s title.
After the museum, we walked down to the Strand to visit the Courtauld Gallery and see its stunning, more traditional collection of Impressionist art, including brilliant Monets, Renoirs and Manets.
In our whistlestop tour of London, we also had time to visit the British Library near King’s Cross station, which is staging a major exhibition in its basement PACCAR Gallery displaying more than 150 richly illuminated and gilded manuscripts from the library’s Royal collection.
Dating back as far as the 9th century and mostly in impeccable condition, they include the huge, lavishly illustrated collection of Edward IV. Some are astonishingly beautiful, and they are all true treasures of the nation.
How much and when? Free entry to British Museum. Admission to Perry exhibition, which is open until February 12 : Adults and senior citizens: £10, 16-18 years: £8, under 16s accompanied by adults: free. For tickets and information visit britishmuseum.org./graysonperry or call 020 7323 8181.
Courtauld Gallery: Open daily 10-6. Admission Adults: £6, concessions: £4.50, under 18s and full-time UK students: free. For more information, call 020 7848 2526 or visit courtauld.ac.uk/gallery.
Free admission to British Library. Admission to Royal Manuscripts exhibition, which is open until March 13: £9, with concessions and free for under 18s. For further information, go to bl.uk/royal.
Getting there: We travelled by East Coast trains. Standard advance returns from York to London, booked online at eastcoast.co.uk, start from £23. Times and fares also on 08457 225225 or from staffed stations and agents.