What do you think Tobias?

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister announced further changes as part of the loosening of the lockdown in England. Amongst other cultural venues, museums and galleries will once again be able to open their doors and admit the general public from the 4th July .

Tobias Blosse (1565/6-1630/1) 17th century English School 1627-8. Oil on Canvas. Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich. Tobias Blosse was Portman and Bailiff of Ipswich and Captain of the Ipswich Train Band. In this portrait he was aged 62.

I can’t help but consider when looking at this portrait of Tobias Blosse (photo from a pre Covid visit) that his expression and pose suggests he might just be thinking ‘yes, yes I have seen this all before and humans will, as usual, forget surprisingly quickly all the horror of this plague’.

On a personal level, I am not sure how I feel about going to the cinema, which necessitates sitting inside with little ventilation for two or three hours. However, walking through the galleries of my local museum or visiting Christchurch Mansion to find inspiration for my work will be much welcomed. It will be interesting to see if wearing a mask is suggested – I think it might be necessary in some of the smaller venues. Following the advice given at the final daily Downing Street Briefing, Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty called for individuals to mitigate risk. They said wearing face coverings was one way to fulfil that requirement!

Earlier this morning I received an email from ‘The Wallace Collection’ announcing their reopening on 25th July and informing everybody of the ‘new normal’ procedures for visiting the Collection. Strikingly, the opening hours have been reduced to 11 am to 3 pm and you have to pre-book your visit. I am waiting to see if this version of the new normal at a busy London gallery will be replicated at local museums and galleries across the regions.

Here’s a summary of the instructions for visitors from the Wallace Collection website.

I expect with local museum’s often occupying much smaller premises there may have to be even more restrictions. The days of spontaneously popping in for a 15 minute break to look at a favourite painting, or wander randomly through a display of Roman finds to divert oneself from the present, would appear to now also belong to the past.

Inspirational pattern detail so delicately painted on the portrait.

During the lockdown I have found books and the Internet have been useful along with strolling through the park and cemetery, but I am most definitely in need of being up close and personal with treasured objects from our past, even portraits of grumpy looking gents like Bailiff Blosse. In Tobias’s defence, I would just say that when standing in front of the canvas he does not appear quite so grumpy (apologies for the lens distortion Tobias).

As the gradual loosening of the lockdown continues and we find a new normal we will be reminded that as with much of human life, that some things are simply better experienced directly in person even if it now means more planning and less spontaneity.

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

10 thoughts on “What do you think Tobias?”

  1. I’m assuming that in some ways, New Normal gallery and museum visits may mean there is more time to stand and stare. I hope so. But as you suggest, those precious moments when you’ve just popped in to see a favourite exhibit may be things of the past … for now. Like you, I won’t be popping into our cinema … quite yet.

    1. I guess we are going to have to see what happens when we turn up.

      Re cinema – our parks in recent pre-Covid years have been offering open air cinema, but the choice of films has been incredibly bland.

  2. No movie theater for me either. I like the idea of fewer people and reservations. I have always avoided crowds and needed space around me and so museum visits could be hard for me. The new systems sound good to me. And in our state when museums open masks must be worn. I feel safer with that added layer.

    1. Yes, I agree with you. I used to go early or right at the end of the day to avoid the crowds so the social distancing will be great, but I would be happier if they asked everybody to wear a mask. There’s always that moment when you walk round a corner with the potential to bump into someone.

      1. Yes. I do feel better about going out with the mask rule. Because of just what you say. Even though it seems a quick chance encounter like that would not be bad, still…being in the building for a length of time, it’s more exposure and I feel better inside with the layer of the mask between me and everyone else right now.

  3. I’m definitely not up for the cinema yet. Nor for travelling on public transport to get to any Sydney museums and galleries which are running according to a similar system. I think the random momentary encounter is not too great a risk, as the suggestion is it’s the 15 minute interactions which are the real concern. So far, we are all still fine in our community, but the moment one brings the virus in, we could be a cluster all of our own. Victoria currently has several. So we’re not out of the woods yet, even if restrictions are easing. Makes you wonder how long it took medieval plagues to die out of their own accord, doesn’t it?

    1. Every time I read a historical novel my admiration for our ancestors grows that little bit more. And, when you read the tales of epic journeys across the globe it’s amazing anyone survived. Plague, cholera, typhoid, parasites, the list goes on and on. I think we in the 21st century have/had become too comfortable and Covid 19 has come as an incredible, enormous shock to many folk across the globe.

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