I had a great early evening wheeling around the Vogue100: A century of style at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) last night and, before I launch into my *I’m-a-real-wheeling-badass* spiel, you should be aware that the exhibition ends this weekend (Sunday May 22, 2016). I can only apologise for the short notice should the success of my wheeling inspire you to roll your wheels across there too.
And, here’s the spiel: I’m getting so much braver in my power wheelchair – go, me!
i was slightly dreading the trip as, you’ll know, London, whilst far from the worst of cities, has way too many rubbish pavements, crappy kerb drops and general unawareness when it comes to the manageability of slopes and steps. I’ve been to the NPG in my manual wheelchair a few years back and remembered quite an awkward visit of the usual parking issues and a clunky entrance via the main doors; though the exit, out the back via Orange Street, wasn’t too bad. It was not bad enough to stop me going again but, yeah, with a little trepidation.
This time, we had to park further away – in the side road adjacent to the National Gallery – and wheel across Trafalgar Square via slopes and busy streets. And, I did it. With no fuss or hassle … except for a slight domestic as I exited our car via the ramp when D suddenly yelled, ‘Go the other way.’
Confused, I looked up and, as is normal for me, my hand wobbled when my concentration wavered and I promptly drove off the ramp side. Luckily, I was near the bottom of it suffering no more than a wobble on my wheels as I screeched, ‘What in hell does that mean? What other way?’
I’ll spare you the rest of our bickering over clarity in communication and simply reiterate how chuffed I felt as I managed to up my speed over the flagstones and gentle inclines, passing obstacles in my path with every appearance of control and competency on my wheels despite a few inward-quaking moments, as we rolled across to the NPG.
To my delight, unnoticed on our previous visit, there is an entrance to the side of the main entrance, that is level, with a lift. Total result.
Once you’re inside, there are lifts to every floor. Actually, three of them to get you to the top floor – where the restaurant is, so you may want to do that as its a nice restaurant with some sky views over Trafalgar Square. We did venture up, after the exhibition but it was really busy so we went down to the basement cafe for a snack instead and very nice it was too.
The whole gallery is very easy to wheel about in and the Vogue100 exhibition is both large and busy. We’d hoped for less busy because we were doing late-night Thursday but, no joy. It wasn’t too busy to see everything though I did have to do a few rooms more than once as I have no patience for waiting.
Generally, it was well laid out. There were just a few exhibits, in horizontal cases or that were quite small, that I was unable to see well. I also thought the labelling (?) of the exhibits a bit poor – writing too small and placement in relation to exhibit wasn’t always great. Oh, and we got the headphone sets with narrative and that wasn’t too brilliant either. It didn’t match narrative to pictures and, because of labelling issues already noted, it was a bit of a pain matching narrative to exhibit.
I know that all sounds a bit grumbly but I didn’t feel that, really. I’ve been reading Vogue since I was a young teenager and loved seeing the blow-ups of contemporary photography by some of my favourite photographers like Tim Walker and Nick Knight. Even more, I really loved some of the older photography from the 1940’s, ’50’s and even earlier. They were so atmospheric and it was lovely seeing portrait photo’s of various icons of art, film etc. whom I’ve known only in their old age as young people.
Exiting via the bookshop, D noticed a 2008 edition of a copy of Vogue on sale for £100. I think he’s planning to sell off at least some of my 25 year Vogue magazines collection, dating back to the mid ’70’s. I shall have to keep a careful eye on them as he’s not beyond sneaking them away.
If, like so many of us, Vogue has been a part of your fashion education, this exhibition is really worth a visit. Apologies again if you read this after its finished.