The Whitworth

Friday was the last day of half term so I stayed at home to spend some time watching the kids do revision for the exams that start next week.

In the afternoon we took the car to Manchester and spent a couple of hours walking round The Whitworth. I am not sure if I have been there before. If I have it was a long time ago.

It has just been revamped and is now in contention for a prize as museum of the year. It would well deserve to win.

It was a combination of the old building with modern open galleries inside and at the back a new extension with wide clean windows that looked out over the park.

One room was filled with 17th/18th Century watercolours and etchings. They were hung up to the ceilings. A criticism might have been made that there were no labels next to the pictures so you were never quite sure what you were looking at. But there were sheets of paper there to be picked up telling you what was what and part of the enjoyment was shifting the eye from picture to picture picking up the details rather than being distracted by the label.

As we walked round it was apparent that there was no fuss being made on photos being taken. This came into its own in a exhibition of work by Cornelia Parker.

There were bullets that had been pulled into a piece of wire a mile long that had then been coiled against canvas; small piles of incinerated cocaine courtesy of a local customs office and flatted plates, trumpets and trombones hung by wires from the ceiling.

But most impressive were two large internal rooms each given over to its own work of art.One room had been hung with the bright red paper templates left after a poppy had been punched out of it. They were hung from the walls and in inverted arches from the ceiling and lit for four bare lightbulbs.

Another room was filled with an exploding shed lit from the inside throwing slow black shadows on the wall.

After the art we went for expensive tapas at Iberica. We had a plate of very expensive ham that wasn’t quite big enough for the price and I then went for the three cheapest tapas on the menu:-

– Aubergine, honey & pinenuts – these could have done without the pinenuts and theere was something astringent about the honey. It was also a long slice of aubergine with the skin still. So all in all not as good as it could be.

– Confit of cod (brandada) with olives & white grapes – this was better. Salt cod mixed with potato and served cold as three spoonfuls set on the plate with white grapes and diced tomato.

– Butifarra with trinxat catalan – this was the best. A thick spiced sausage on a small spread of pureed potato with a green embellishment.

We also had croquettes, chorizo lollipops, cheese and omelette, padron peppers and patatas bravas.

I even managed to finish with a small glass of patxaran over ice.

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