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