Last year was such a write off with home renovations taking over our lives (and sanity) that 8 months on, I’m still finding it a novelty that we can go out and do something fun that doesn’t involve building work or fixtures or…dirt. My husband has always loved the famous Great Wave print by Katsushika Hokusai and set about getting us tickets to the special exhibition at the British Museum. It was almost sold out bar a few late evening slots on a Sunday- which actually turned out to be an ideal time to go. The museum closes at 5pm, but the exhibition carries on- and means that the entire museum is pretty much empty. From Kings Cross, we walked through pretty neighbourhoods and stopped off for dinner before heading over to the exhibition.
Katsushika Hokusai was an artist and printmaker dating back from the Edo period of Japan. His most well known works are the Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji, created in the 1820’s, stemming from his own personal obsession with the mountain.
The Great Wave, his most well known piece of work, was created when he was in his 70s. Around this period, his work focused on nature and he travelled long distances throughout Japan to see and depict the beautiful scenes you can find his sketch books and prints.
Over the years, Hokusai became obsessed with living to 100 and his work reflected this- depictions of supernatural beings and dragons, with inscriptions begging for longevity. Eventually he succumbed to an illness when he was 90- living a modest life with his daughter, Oi. He didn’t make it to 100, but his wish was fulfilled- his work is renowned over a century later.
The Hokusai exhibition is sold out, however, if you become a Member of the museum you’ll still be able to access it (and any other exhibition that the museum will hold) Totally worth it- the British Museum is beautiful– so very much worth the £64 fee (or buddy up with someone and it’s about £43) Details here.
We spent about an hour inside the exhibit, looking at his lesser known works of art. My favourite part was getting to see his sketch books, laying open beneath a glass case- those sketch books, full of ink and pencil sketches seemed much more personal to me than his actual finished pieces of work.
Rewinding a few (ok, a lot of) years back, my art books at school were full of sometimes good and sometimes downright terrible bits of my own sketches, paint swathes and drawings. The books felt nice and weighty in my hands, they felt important. I get particularly nostalgic for my last two years of school, over the rest of my high school years, because I got to dabble all day in the subjects I actually liked- Literature, Art and Theatre. I was always covered in paint stains. I was always scribbling notes in books- whether it was a classic novel or a play. Those two years were amazing and I actually felt like I had some freedom and control over my future…
….and here I am, 17 years later, a date night with my husband at The British Museum to see beautiful works of art.