The V&A Dundee….

I have been thinking about this a lot and what I am about to write is probably not fair and it could be argued that I am comparing Apples with Oranges.  This being said,  I don’t think the V&A at Dundee is that good (This is hard for me to write as I had travelled over 350 miles to visit the institution).   The building is superb – a striking statement on the side of the wide Firth of Tay as you dive across the bridge towards Dundee.  When you walk in it is just as breathtaking as there is this vast space tapering out all around you like an upturned pyramid.   The cafe at the base of this space is really good and ticks all the environmental friendly boxes.

You can take the stairs or the lift, if you can the stairs are by far the best way of ascending to the exhibition space as it allows you to really appreciate the size, scale and grandeur of the main hall.   This all adds to the rising excitement as you get to the first floor – the exhibitions and the space in which they are held  must be something special if the main halls is anything to go by.   Then you realise that there isn’t much space on the exhibition floor and what there is is poorly utilised.   To be fair to the V&A they were in middle of replacing one temporary exhibition with another so you can only view the permanent Scottish Design galleries and a small area devoted to fashion design (Studio Nichols Daley).   Unfortunately the Scottish Design area is way too small and all the exhibits are crammed one on top of the other that gives little space for each item to breath.   I left there feeling rushed and somewhat cheated because there were a number of very interesting items I would have loved to spend a lot more time with but couldn’t because of the lack of space. .   The most engaging and engaged with item on the whole floor was a mechanical arm that was making bubbles.

Even with the new gallery open there really isn’t that much exhibition space for such a large building.  On the way back to the hotel whilst discussing this with my wife I came to the conclusion that the best way to sum up the experience of visiting the V&A at Dundee is the Not the 9 o’clock news spoof pop video…Nice Video, Shame about the Song.


It has been nearly a week since I visited the V&A at Dundee and haven’t changed my mind.   The failings of the V&A at Dundee came into greater contrast today after I visited the National Space Centre at Leicester.

You have to pay to get into the museum but you actually get a far better experience.   Of course the subject is always going to be an exciting one when compared to the aesthetic of design but there is one fact that I think sums up the failing of the V&A when compared to the National Space Centre:   There is only c1100 sq metres  of exhibition space at the V&A compared to the c4900 sq metres at the Space Centre.   Of course a lot of the space is used up with exhibitions aimed at children (the school kids going around the museum today seemed to be really engaging with the exhibitions) but that is not a bad thing.   The National Space Centre has a much more workaday feel compared to the V&A but I don’t think that is a bad thing – in fact compared to the refined atmosphere it was positively refreshing.

The building itself is not as architecturally accomplished as the V&A but does that really matter?  The most important thing is the lasting lessons that you come away with and perhaps it is just me but I came away feeling I got value for money from the National Space Centre whilst I felt short changed by the V&A.   I feel really sad writing that sentence but that is the way I feel.   Perhaps should you visit or have visited the V&A you may well feel differently and there is nothing wrong with that.

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42 Days


Once upon a time the best way to travel from one centre of power to another was by boat.  Of course this was before there was such a thing as Scotland or England but rather smaller kingdoms, in this case the Kingdom of Northumbria.  (For all you Game of Thrones fans this is The North.   The wall that George R Martin must have been thinking about was the Antonine Wall rather than Hadrian’s.   If this is the case then that makes Edinburgh must have been Mole Town – not sure the good burghers of Edinburgh would be happy about that!)  Funny how times change but the sea still sits there and now is part of the Brexit conundrum.

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43 Days

I know I should be working on the Scottish images but it wa just too tempting this morning so I had to get out and enjoy another beautiful dawn over my local river.   Brexit related?  Not a bit of it and whatever happens on the 31st of October the sun will rise the next day and the river will continue to flow downhill.   Spooky that.

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44 Days

I’ve spent the weekend in and around the Scottish capital Edinburgh to take a break from everything and relax.   Overall it succeeded even if it reinforced my hatred of the A1 to Newcastle upon Tyne – afterwards it is a lot more humane if a major trunk road can be humane?   So what have I learnt about things?   Well the first thing I have learnt that Leicester is closer to Edinburgh than Lerwick, the capital (?) of the Shetland Isles.

As for anything else I am still working on the images and trying to get my  thoughts together so perhaps in a day or so I will have some considered opinions.   This being said I’ll leave you with the Leaderfoot viaduct as a succinct summary of where we are in that strange referendum menage e trois we seem to be caught in between the UK, Scotland and the EU.  Here we have a bridge built in what I call the Anglo Scots borderlands as a wonderful example of 19th century engineering yet almost 1900 years before the Romans were the first to bridge the River Tweed at this point using legionnaires for all the heavy lifting.  These legionnaires and their auxiliaries would have been drawn from all over the Empire – some from far off Syria.   It does seem that when we live and work together it is amazing what we can achieve.

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We are goin’ be….


There reaches a point when the mind can take no more and it screams out NO MORE!   (I have reached that point today…just in case you might be worried about my sanity this is just a reaction to Brexit.)

So for me one of the best ways to recuperate is to do a bit of drawing….


Don’t let the bastards grind you down

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49 Days

There is one problem that all the remain politicians and those of us who want to remain within the European Union (EU) cannot overcome: Legitimacy.   Much as I hate to agree with Boris Johnson on this point I think he is right – we have to honour the result of the referendum and we have to leave the European Union.  I don’t want to but unless there is a second referendum I don’t see that there is any other legitimate course of action.

What I don’t agree is that we have to leave without a deal because I just don’t believe in any real sense that exist.  Yes we could leave on the 31st October without some form of a deal but on the 1st of November we will be entering in to talks to try and ameliorate the problems associated with that course of action.   This is what will fill our political lives for years to come and so getting a deal now is the best way to ensure that the start of that process is as smooth as possible.

I believe that Britain is far too big a country for the EU to just try and pretend doesn’t exist.  On the flip side of that of course is that the EU is a huge beast for Britain to try and ignore and we will both have to find some form of an accommodation whether Nigel Farage or the front page of the Daily Express likes it or not.

What I also believe is that the Republic of Ireland is going to get screwed which ever way this goes.   If we leave without a deal there will be warm words and possibly some cash from the EU but I don’t believe this will last for long.   The Irish will become very isolated and possibly blamed by some countries for the fact that their economy has been adversely affected  because of Irish intransigence over the back stop.   This doesn’t mean that the Irish are wrong but when Germany is in recession and without a government whilst the Italian debt crises is starting to hit the Euro hard I really don’t think the EU will give too much consideration to the needs of the Republic of Ireland GDP $333 billion when compared to Germany GDP $3.67 trillion or Italy $1.9 trillion.   Suddenly the problems on the road between Blacklion to Belcoo isn’t going to count for much at all with the EU.   If this is the case then perhaps being so snotty to the British might not have been the wisest course of action either.

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53 Days


So the latest news in the happy horror show of British politics is that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is going to break the law and not ask for an extension to article 50 should one be required in October.   Now whether this is true or not (I have to say this has the fingerprints of spin operations all over it but nowadays who knows?) it shows the depths we are descending into.   How did we get here?  Who is to blame?

I think the best answer to both of those questions can be answered by looking into the mirror.  We all are.  We all were too complacent with too many things in the past.  Politics had become some rich kids toy thing rather than having any real consequences (this was never the case in reality but to the rich kids running the country they never saw that.) . We never engaged and we laughed and went back to our apps and listicles.  I don’t think anyone is laughing now.

How will all this end?  I have no idea but the next few weeks are going to test the British state to its core in a way it hasn’t been tested in centuries.   I’m not looking forward to the whole experience.

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