Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Secret Art of War

One of my favourite television shows here in the UK is the South Bank Show. Tonight they screened an interesting episode about the evacuation of the National Gallery paintings during the Second World War. There is amazing film footage that survives from this time - inside the gallery with empty frames leaning against the walls, 20 men pushing a cart with various masterpieces balanced on it, rows and rows of huge painting literally buried underground. I suppose I found this so amazing because I can't imagine the National Gallery being's such a place of refuge from the hectic bustle of London and I love to sit in a quiet room looking at the Turners when I happen to pass through Trafalgar Square.

The paintings were eventually moved to a quarry in Wales and from there one painting each month was brought back to the gallery for public viewing. This Picture of the Month program was vastly popular, with often more than 1000 people filing past a single painting each day. Imagine - the National Gallery with just one piece of art within it.

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