Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Postcards from Brighton

I thought I was going to do a post all about the Brighton Pavilion , which the three of us visited on the Saturday before The British Bear Artist Awards , but it's almost impossible to convey the stunning opulence of this former Royal Palace without internal photographs . So instead I have a string of fabulous images that Ashley caught on camera at around 4.30 pm on Saturday , whilst I was snoozing in the hotel room .

First I must just mention the Pavilion ; from the outside (we approached through the gardens) I was quite surprised by the almost flimsy , film-set architecture ahead of us . The closer we got, the less the minarets and eastern crenellations convinced. How odd - but of course that's exactly how this palace was built ; a sham of metal cloaking around a modest sized farmhouse ! A fantasy hidey-hole for an aging Prince Regent - who would later become King George IV.

Actually , there ought to be a warning over the door "here be dragons" as there are more than you could shake a stick at inside - together with snakes ; large , small , gilded , painted , bas-relief , overhead , coiled round pillars , smiling , sneaking , snarling , and down-right enraged in to blowing flames over your head ! All the visitors meekly walked about with their eyes swivelling from side to side goggling at the sheer ...... goldness of the interiors ; all decorated by artisans from a period mad for the exoticism of China and the Far East . Many a life's work is represented here , from wallpaper to the finest furniture that could be conjured from imagination . The great Banqueting hall in particular (laid out in full , priceless , table service) takes your breath away . The enormous silvered dragon in the centre of the ceiling ,which dangles the biggest chandelier I've ever seen , still has to compete for your attention with a gold Phoenix in every corner of the room!

We toured through Queen Victoria's rooms ; apparently she became fed up with the pokiness of them , and felt her family could never be accommodated there , and so she sold the palace to the people of Brighton in 1850 . Mind you , that was after removing 147 cart loads of furniture and artefacts .... a fraction of which have now been loaned back in situ .

If you do ever manage to visit the Pavilion , and specifically the Music Room - covered in gold dragons , serpents and chinese pagoda canopies , I am sure that like me you will take pity on the conservators who spent 11 years restoring and re-gilding 26,000 golden shells within the central cupola , after an arsonist damaged them in 1975 - only to be put back at square one by a stone minaret ball crashing through the centre of it in the storms of 1987 ! Some hold this room to be unlucky ; the mythical creatures all look very cross , and it does have a certain opressive atmosphere not detected elsewhere .....

Anyway , back to the photographs - remember there are no fancy filters used ; what you see is what my husband and son saw at 4.30pm . The sea a strange inky hue below an otherworldly skyscape , and the phenomenon of thousands of starlings wheeling in the skies above the old West Pier (burnt out in 2003) before roosting together on it . Click on each picture to bring the size up .

T.T.F.N Ruth x


All Bear said...

Wow, I love the pics Ruth! They really do have an air of mystery to them! I've often driven past this amazing building, but haven't ever managed to make time to visit ... you've definitely whetted my appetite for a trip to Brighton. In the past I've always headed straight for 'The Lanes', because I liked to peer in the window of Sue Pearson's wonderful antique bear shop!

Ruth said...

Owww - I wish I'd gone to The Lanes now .... after The Pavilion we got sucked along to the shopping centre - which was a mistake - not to mention a complete nightmare !!

Matilda said...

Wow Breathtaking Ruth!! I will definitely put it on my list for 2010.

Boot Button Bears said...

What simply beautiful photographs. I am completely in awe of this beautiful place.