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Day #7: London, England

Our mission for this morning was to visit the exhibition of Matisse’s cut outs on display at the Tate Modern. From what I’ve read, it’s been a blockbuster show. And, I have to admit, I was very excited to see it as I’ve always been fond of both the artist and these particular works within his oeuvre.


I like Henri Matisse for much the same reason that I like Frans Hals or Terry Frost: his work is joyful. You have the sense that making art made him happy. What’s more, looking at his art makes me happy. I appreciate work that is more academic, constrained, or even disturbing. But, here’s my truth — I live a pretty examined life already… I don’t need art to serve as an unhappy meditation on the complexities, contradictions, or controversies of life. No, I prefer art that makes me smile…

Matisse? Well, he does that. This is especially true of his cut outs that were created toward the end of his life when he was infirm and unable to paint as he once did. Yet, he continued to innovate, enhance his technique, and literally carve these constructions out of color.

Needless to say, the show was excellent.

Afterwards, we strolled through some of the Tate’s other galleries. In particular, I sought out the hard edge / minimalist works and really enjoyed the Ellsworth Kelly room.


Once we finished at the Tate, we strolled over the Millennium Bridge that connects Southwark with The City. We picked up a lunch of take away sandwiches and ate on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral. After lunch we visited the church, which is the first time we’ve gone in about 15 years.

Of course, at £16 per person it’ll likely be 15 years or more before we go back (as it’s really not that great). In all sincerity, I think it’s actually a little shameful to charge for admission to a house of worship, especially such an exorbitant amount. It’s one of the things I appreciate about my Catholic heritage, as we don’t generally do this even for far greater churches like St. Peter’s in Rome.

After our visit to St. Paul’s, we walked home to the Allen House. That’s about 5 miles, not including the mile or so we’d already walked. But, it was a great way to see the city: along Fleet Street and the Strand. We made a detour to Covent Garden to eat a delicious confection called an Eton Mess, which consisted of strawberries, whipped cream, and a crushed up merengue all mixed together.

We continued our walk through Trafalgar Square, down Pall Mall (passing Princess Margaret’s daughter on the street), and into Green Park. From there we passed through Wellington Arch and by Apsley House before entering Hyde Park to continue on to Allen House.

For dinner, I brought in takeout from Whole Foods.

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