London Trip


I have just got back from a trip to London; my visit had a dual purpose as on the first night I went to watch my daughter dance at ‘Her Majesties Theatre’ and on the second day I visited various museums and galleries as part of my M.A research.  During my visit I was looking for inspiration regarding my project, inspiration in terms of both technical and exhibition possibilities, alongside content information that could be used as part of my application?

The National Gallery

To start with we (me and mum) visited the National Gallery, which houses the national collection of Western European painting from the 13th to the 19th centuries, if you have read my previous blogs you would know that I am not the most arty art school student, in fact most of the time my appreciation for art is very low but I was strangely impressed with the art work on display.  Although I say I don’t appreciate art, my exposure to art in non-digital formats has been limited to say the least and having the opportunity to see these superbly crafted pieces up close had a profound effect on me.  In the past I have visited the Louvre Museum in Paris and seen the famous Mona Lisa and it left me feeling underwhelmed but when I saw Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers; I was very impressed.  I have seen this piece on TV, online and in magazines but there was no comparison to seeing it up close and personal.  The depth of the brush strokes and the way it seemed to come out of the canvas was really quite striking, I also got to see Hans Holbein the Younger’s The Ambassadors.  The sheer size of this painting impressed me and the anamorphic effect was very evident but the view from the other end of the hallway was even more impressive, the people depicted in the picture appeared to be like models stood in front of a background, rather than a flat canvas.  This depth of field effect was something I seemed to notice more and more in the paintings as I toured the gallery and it is something I intend to look at to improve my future imagery.

National Gallery Interactive Kiosk

I found four interactive kiosks of which only one was working at the National Gallery, the application featured on the kiosks was very impressive, it featured a large catalogue of paintings from the gallery and each painting had detailed information and high resolution zoom able, digital versions of the paintings, with interactive elements showing specific detail from each painting.  I was very impressed with this application (although I did manage to break it) and the amount and quality of information was far more than I expected, so it came as no surprise when I saw it had been created by a team of more than twenty people.  My own portraiture application that was featured at the ‘Hull Ferens Art Gallery’ paled in comparison but I believe this was due to the fact that the team of people involved in the National Gallery’s application had the specialist subject knowledge about the content featured in the application and I had to research mine in a short space of time.

Overall my trip to the National Gallery was great but the whole experience was slightly soured by an overly aggressive female attendant, who took great exception to me attempting to make notes, she yelled at me at the top of her voice across the gallery because I had to put my bag down in order to make my notes.  This brought my gallery experience to an end, as I was left in a state of personal emotion that was inhibiting my ability to gain the viewing experience I had been previously enjoying until the said incident happened.

The Science Museum

Next up was the Science Museum and this was right up my street so to speak (not geographically), practically everywhere I looked there were interactive elements.

The amount of interactive media was encouraging as an interactive designer but I was left feeling slightly underwhelmed, the interactive applications where good but I was hoping for inspiration or even astonishment but there was nothing that I had not seen before technically speaking, I knew how each interactive element could be reproduced.  This could be a positive thing as it may mean that my knowledge of my practice is now at a suitable professional level.  Visiting the Science Museum was a great experience and hopefully one day my work may be featured there.

The National History Museum

The National History Museum was next, this is a great museum and I found some really interesting well executed interactive kiosks, unfortunately there was nothing that was truly inspirational but there was one thing I particularly liked and that was the placement of business card sized flyers next to each kiosk, with links to further educational research, this helps the effect of the educational experience spread further and deeper and this is cool.

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Considering the fact that the V&A is supposed to be an art and design museum, I found it to be the least useful visiting experience of the day, I saw very little in the way of design, other than the massive selection of wedding dresses that had no appeal to me whatsoever.  I also was unable to find any interactive elements at this museum, which I was surprised about as I thought this would be a great home for some examples of interactive design but unfortunately I was mistaken.  There was a separate side exhibition featuring more design work but this was only available to those who were willing to pay extra and by this point in the day and the little confidence the rest of the museum had filled me with, I decided against a further financial outlay.

The British Museum

I was most displeased when I visited the British Museum; this was the one museum in London that I knew housed Viking artefacts and to my dismay after such a long journey, that part of the museum was closed for refurbishment.  The trip was not completely wasted as I enjoyed the other exhibits at the museum, even if they were not relevant to my application.

My trip to London has been a valuable experience that has left me with a greater appreciation for art, an appreciation that I hope to develop in the future.  I am also left with greater confidence regarding my knowledge of my practice and I feel I now have a better understanding of my current level of knowledge in my practice and this will hopefully help me in my future endeavours.


Jorvik Viking Centre

Today I took my wife and our children to visit the Jorvik Viking Centre in York.  York was the main Viking settlement in the UK and the Jorvik Viking Centre is a museum attraction that features archaeological artefacts, historic information and reconstructions of life in Viking occupied York.

I visited the centre on a primary school trip and I have not been back since, so I was excited to see how it may have changed.  The purpose of my visit was to get inspiration and information for my application, to observe my six year old son’s reactions to the centre and its features and to have a good old family day out.

The Jorvik centre provided me with some good inspirations and knowledge that will undoubtedly filter in to my application, it was very interesting to look at some of the archaeological finds as they will be good reference points for my digital recreations, for example Jorvik has an original Viking shoe on display and I now can draw a more accurate representation of Viking shoes in my application;  this may seem like a minor aspect but they devil is in the detail or so they say, so all information is useful to me.  I was very interested in the touch screen interactive that the Jorvik Viking centre has, I have previously designed two heritage based, touch screen, interactive kiosk applications during my B.A and it was interesting to compare my own work to the ones featured in a very popular heritage visitor attraction.

My son seemed to naturally gravitate towards the touch screen kiosks, this may be due to his love of computer games but he found the ones at the centre to be quite frustrating.  I was not surprised by this as I had the same feeling of frustration in my initial explorations of the kiosks; the information on the kiosk is displayed extremely well in my opinion and there are some nice interactive features like maps and ship building, but there were consistent usability issues across all of the interactive kiosks that caused frustration, followed by boredom for my son, this highlighted the need for my application to be easy and instinctive to use.

Whilst at the centre I picked up a Jorvik Viking Centre Guidebook and some Viking literature that hopefully will help me with my application (see below)

My son enjoyed the visit and he came home with his own mementoes of the visit (see below)

Overall my visit to the Jorvik Viking Centre was interesting and useful and we had a very enjoyable family day out.