From Londonhua WIKI

Natalie Bloniarz

Natalie Bloniarz
Natalie Bloniarz


My goal for my London HUA experience was to explore art through different mediums. Specifically, I explored the history of architecture through photography, how to create a mosaic in both a physical and digital setting, and the history, purpose, and techniques of stained glass windows. Previous courses I have taken in the humanities and arts are: AR1101 Digital Imaging and Computer Art, MU 2637 String Ensemble, and I have experience from high school courses such as AP U.S. History, AP European History, AP Literature and Composition, and AP Language and Composition. From my time in London I have discovered a love for traditional art forms such as mosaics and stained glass, and that there is never a dull moment in London. I have developed a newfound appreciation for artists who work with difficult mediums, such as glass, and I hope to be able to keep working with glass in the future as a hobby.

Milestone 1

London Architecture
Objective: A descriptive timeline of the change in architecture throughout the city over time through photographs including comparing different churches, buildings, bridges, museums and even unsung architectures accomplishments such as parking garages (or car parks).

This is in collaboration with Emily Wilson and Olivia Gibbs

Over the course of 2 weeks, we have traveled around London taking pictures and researching some of London's most stand out buildings. We have found the best source for finding architecture information which is the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Library, and some interesting facts about all of the buildings. Many buildings have been built multiple times due to the great fire of London, and more recent buildings were built in controversy. The buildings that we researched all have a rich history and interesting architectural design elements that add to the city. This has been a great experience and we have learned a lot about the buildings that make up the city of London.
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Milestone 2

A Mosaic of Mosaics
Objective: To develop an understand the techniques and materials needed to create a mosaic and apply that to a new digital medium.

Throughout this milestone I learned about mosaic, and the materials and tools needed to create one. I then applied this knowledge to a digital setting (Photoshop) and compared how it is different from the traditional methods. I can confidently say that the process of creating a digital mosaic is much more forgiving than a physical mosaic. I also began to learn that a digital mosaic has limits not unlike a physical mosaic; the main limit being the time the creator of the mosaic has to work on it and it is also limited by the processing ability of the computer being used, if the file becomes to big the computer cannot complete the desired action.
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Milestone 3, Capstone

Capstone: The History, Purpose, and Techniques of Stained Glass Windows
Objective: To develop an understanding of the history of stained glass windows including their purpose, and to study the techniques needed to create a window; then applying those techniques to create my own stained glass window.

After looking into the history, purpose, and techniques of stained glass windows I applied my knowledge to create my own window. Creating a stained glass window is a tedious process of endlessly cutting glass and lead, hoping that in the end the pieces will fit together. It was an interesting experience to be able to go into creating the window with all of my research and actually have a physical representation of my efforts. I enjoyed being able to create this window as the capstone for my humanities and arts requirement, and I have a new found interest in the glass blowing classes at WPI to continue working with glass.
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Activity Journal

The activity journal represents an ongoing log of reflections gained through each and every project activity on the calendar.

Week 1

Activity #1 Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London

Today's visit to Westminster Abbey helped me to refine my first milestone from a broad history of architecture to a more focused analysis of Gothic architecture. It also provided a starting point for my research into Gothic architecture and some basic history of the Abbey. Though I really wanted to take photos inside to use for my milestone, I understand that that is not possible. I also started my quest to find the ugliest picture of Jesus as a baby, to keep with the tradition started by my brother on our vacation to Italy.
During the visit to the Tower of London, I had discovered that medieval history is a period that I do not find that appealing to study. The queue leading up to catch a glimpse of the crown jewels felt like waiting for a roller coaster. The silliest part was that the exhibit was incredibly short, and to keep people moving they had a moving sidewalk along the row of crowns. I would have loved to spend more time looking at the ostentatious jewels, but it was incredibly crowded and my height made it hard to see around others in the exhibit.
I was so excited to have taken my first double-decker bus and getting to sit right in the front up on the upper level. It was interesting to see the crowds of other tourists get on and look confused from the Oxford Street stop I got on at, shift to bunches of more confident locals. The weirdest part of the journey was seeing one person getting on then immediately getting off one stop later, which would have been a two minute walk down the road.

Activity #2 The British Museum

I really enjoyed today's visit to the British Museum. After deciding last night to join the other two girls, Emily and Olivia, in the architecture group for their first milestone, this provided a great opportunity to start working with them. The museum courtyard provided some great photos for the milestone, and it was incredibly designed. The thought that people had built that intricate glass ceiling, creating the largest covered square in England, was fascinating. I especially enjoyed looking at all of the Egyptian artifacts, as that is my favorite time period throughout all of history. The sheer number of artifacts in the museum was incredible and it would take at least a week to be able to see and appreciate their extensive collection. I would love to go back at a later date to further explore the other wings of the museum. I knew that the British people had a large collection of Egyptian artifacts, but I never knew that the British Museum has the second largest collection outside of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
I also got the chance to do some more exploring in London on a quest to complete the scavenger hunt. At the end of our scavenger hunt quest we returned to Westminster Abbey to attend evensong. It was a pleasant experience and the choir sounded incredible, it was also a nice experience to attend the service to get a better idea of the protestant faith. It was cool to see that it is possible to sit right next the choir and among the members of the clergy. I wish I could have taken my own photos inside the Abbey for my milestone, but I understand they want to maintain the rights to images of the Abbey.

Activity #3 St. Paul's Cathedral

Today's visit to St. Paul's Cathedral was incredibly interesting because it was a major architectural shift from Westminster Abbey. The two churches are similar in their abundance of statues and graves but are vastly different in appearance. The inside of the cathedral was stunning and bright. My two favorite aspects of the cathedral were the golden mosaics and the whispering gallery. The whispering gallery reminded me of the inside of Il Duomo in Florence, both with incredibly narrow staircases that have the tiniest of windows and their imposing artwork staring down at you. The cathedral is also a part of my first milestone and provided a good amount of the information I needed to research. I also learned today that the Dean's stairs were actually in Harry Potter like I thought. I find it fascinating to see that the movies took the time to find the most authentic English architecture to include in scenes, it helps ground the movies more towards reality.
Today was also a journey to capture more photos of buildings for my first milestone, taking me to the Gherkin, the Lloyd's Building, the Royal Exchange, and the Barbican Centre. I cannot wait to go back to the Barbican Centre because of its beautiful courtyard. I am also looking into taking a tour about the architecture of the building. The Gherkin was my favorite building to observe because of its unique shape. My least favorite building was the Barbican Centre only because of its brutalist style, which I find rather dreary and overtly industrial. The courtyard inside of the building made up for the drab architecture and is a place I hope to visit again.

Activity #4 The National Gallery

I did not really enjoy the visit to The National Gallery today. The majority of the art I managed to see was early christian art that contains a myriad of paintings with the same four events in the life of Jesus and Mary: the Crucifixion, the Assumption, the arrival of the magi, and Mary with baby Jesus, The museum provided me the opportunity to increase my ugly baby Jesus tally to 12. The only paintings I truly enjoyed observing were the work of Claude Monet. I did manage to find one work of art relevant to my milestone as I exited the building; there was a large tile mosaic on the ground depicting the roman gods and I hope to go back to get a better look and study the large mosaic. Another reason I did not particularly like this museum was that even at opening, it was ultra crowded. I was hard to appreciate some of the art in such a loud place in some of the galleries. This museum almost felt like a repeat of previous museums that I had visited including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and Gli Uffizi in Florence; that is not to say that I did not appreciate the art it just felt rather redundant.

Activity #5 The Natural History Museum

As a popular sight for children, the Natural History Museum was super crowded with school groups of little children in their bright safety vests. The museum had a subsection of the Minerals & The Vault exhibit which has contributed to my milestone all about building materials. The anamatronic T-Rex was really cool, and seeing the looks of wonder on some of the primary school children's faces was priceless. The large open cafe area provided great views of the stain glass windows of the original building as well as a chance to observe the mosaic floor. My favorite part of the museum was the Mineral & The Vault area because I have always had a fascination with rocks and gems since my childhood. The location of the museum was also convenient in that it was adjacent to the Victoria and Albert Museum which has an entire wing on architecture as well as a large amount of stained glass windows for my third milestone.
Today also marked my first official visit to The British Library on a research adventure for my first milestone. I had found three very helpful books that had information on the style and history of the buildings that I am researching as my portion of milestone one. The most helpful was "Reference Guides to National Architecture: Architecture of England, Scotland, and Wales" by Nigel R. Jones. Now that I have also stared to pan my other milestones more I am compiling a list of places to return to in an effort to earn more about either their mosaics or stained glass windows. I had a breakthrough in the idea for my second milestone in comparing two major types of mosaics: decorative and functional, which can be exemplified ny the difference between the mosaics of St. Paul's Cathedral and the floors of some of the museums including the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Week 2

Activity #1 Tate Britain

The Tate Britain felt surprisingly small compared to its grandiose outside. I am starting to get a bit burned out going to museum after museum, where the content inside seems to stay the same. The most interesting piece of art was a modern installation by Cerith Wyn Evans called Forms in Space Light (in Time). This piece was a huge mass of neon tubes hanging from the ceiling spanning the length of the museum. and if you stand at the entrance of the museum you can see the entire piece appearing as a flattened drawing in the air through a single neon ring.
I wish these museum visits were spread further apart to allow more time to dedicate to milestone one. Only having the afternoon to complete an article or contribution, a journal entry, and go read at the library is not enough time to put in all of the needed effort. It is also mildly frustrating to spend a majority of my day for two weeks going to places that aren't directly relevant to my milestones. I understand it is important to see all of these works of art and to be aware of other things besides my milestone but to spend three or four hours in a place to only stare at a single feature of art piece saps my will to continue working. The most helpful part of these activities so far has been seeing mosaics that I will come back and photograph and study in depth and looking at stained-glass windows in the churches we have visited.

Activity #2 Victoria and Albert Museum

As expected from how I enjoyed my previous visit, I loved the Victoria and Albert Museum. My only problem is that it is so easy to get lost inside of that museum and the online map is useless. My favorite exhibit I got to see today was the stained glass collection both in its own exhibit and among the period art. I wish that I had time to locate the section on mosaics to begin work on my second milestone, but I guess it will have to wait for another day. The stained glass section really helped me to understand the visuals of the history I read about yesterday and the transition from just stained glass to painted glass, and then back to the more traditional style was amazing to see up close and to get to study the details on the original windows in the book.

Activity #3 Tate Modern

I have and will never understand modern art. There were a few things I enjoyed such as the pieces by Monet, Warhol, and three media elements, two auditory experiences: Wetin You Go Do? by Otobong Nkanga’ and Forty-Part Motet by Janet Cardiff, and a video How Not to Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File by Hito Steyerl. The video was just so ridiculous confirming some of my views on modern art, that sometimes modern art is just a practical joke that people haven't caught onto yet. The impending due date of the milestone is causing me stress that I don't have enough time to do everything, which in a sense is true because it is compressing seven weeks worth of work into two. I could argue against myself saying that it is the only thing I am focused on but that would be a lie. I have journal entries and articles to write, research to be done, and two other milestones to worry about. Being in a team has been the best choice I have made so far, but that is not quelling my anxiety. I want to visit all of these places but I am also worried that I do not have enough time to go and research. I don't want to buy books to only be focusing on them for two weeks and these books can get expensive, but I guess my tuition only covers so much. Maybe after this week I will feel less like I am drowning in work.

Activity #4 Museum of London

The coolest part of the museum today was the Olympic torch. I did manage to gather some relevant milestone information regarding columns and s mosaic, but in general I found it kinda boring. The history focusing on London was cool but all of the museums are blurring together and it is harder to tell each day apart. I am becoming a bit unsure about the focus of my second milestone; I want to study mosaics, but I don't know in what capacity. I believe it would be best for me to focus on religious imagery in mosaics, Catholic, Roman or otherwise, to help narrow down my background research. Being able to have enough photos of mosaics to create my own mosaic will be challenging because the most colorful ones are in places that I cannot photograph, meaning I will have to probably rip photos from the internet. My article entries are starting to show some of my disinterest in the topics I had chosen to write about, and I want to change that, but my motivation is severely lacking. I am excited for the weekend because it means a mental break, but I fear I might have to spend it in the library reading in preparation for my next milestone.

Week 3

Activity #1 Museum of London Docklands

I really enjoyed the museum today, much more than the other Museum of London. This one went much more in depth throughout the exhibits and was completely empty almost all morning. It was also cool to see the view of World War II and the slave trade through the eyes of the British, and how much they were impacted. Today's visit did relate to my first milestone, in that it had a small section on the modernization of London along the Thames that referenced City Hall and the London Eye. It was also cool to see the Sainsbury study area with the history of Sainsbury laid out in the entrance way. I am back to square one for my second milestone because I cannot seem to find any books about religious imagery in mosaics, and I might have to broaden the topic to the history and techniques of mosaics, to keep the topic of mosaics viable. I feel secure in my third milestone and I have found tons of useful books that I need to take the time to fully read and compile the information. I feel refreshed and ready for this next week of work, and I can't wait for the weekend to come to go exploring with my parents.

Activity #2 Imperial War Museum

Today was not a happy day. After the events of last night, this museum was another punch in the gut. Humanity can be cruel. On a lighter note, the art for the World War I posters was cool and I enjoyed learning about the war from another perspective. Today was a super long reading day, though one of the books I really want to read, I can only find in Italian at the British Library and it is annoyingly expensive to buy. I might have to make use without it, but it would have been really useful. I also went through my photos and realized that I need more photos of mosaics, so I cannot wait to revisit some of the museums to get more photos to use for my mosaic. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Activity #3 Hampton Court Palace

Where am I, I can't be in London, right? It was hot today, reaching a balmy 78°F. It was a great day to go to the palace and enjoy the gardens, the weather was perfect. I enjoyed the change of scenery from our standard London adventures, but Tudor England is not my ideal aesthetic. The palace was super enjoyable when it was empty, but once the school children came it got hard to hear the audio tour and move about the halls. My favorite part of today was exploring the gardens and looking at the hoard of deer they had on the property. I wish I had time to devote to reading for my second milestone today but sleep was calling and I couldn't ignore it. Hopefully tomorrow we don't spend as much time in the museum so I can devote all of my time to holing myself up in the library and reading boring books on mosaics. Mosaics: fascinating art, nightmare to read about.

Activity #4 Horniman Museum

This place was creepy. It was full of little children and dead animals, and that is super unnerving.The gardens were the highlight of the trip with the pleasant breeze and sound of wind chimes in the air. I really need to read for my milestone and take more pictures of mosaics, because I am severely lacking. I love mosaics, but books talking about their history are so dry, it feels like a 400 page trek through the Sahara. I can't wait to get this background done to work on my deliverable and make my mosaic.

Week 4

Activity #1 The Wallace Collection

Baroque art is not my style. Something about the sheer excessive use of gold and other precious metals makes me feel that the art of the period was just created as an excuse to spend money. I have decided to expand the ugly baby Jesus count to include regular ugly babies as well, and the count now stands around 24. The one painting I was excited to see was The Swing because I have studied that painting in high school during AP European History. It was interesting to be able to learn more about the painting's origins and that the patron wanted to be painted admiring his mistress's legs from below. I am excited to start devoting my entire day to working on my milestones and having a mental break from most museums. On Sunday I went to see a classical concert, the Schumann Quartet, with my parents at Wigmore Hall.

Activity #2 London Science Museum

This was my favorite of the non art museums to visit because I felt it was aimed to a slightly older audience then the Natural History Museum. The mathematics and communications exhibits were fascinating and I was excited to get to wander around without having to worry about mowing over all of the school children. I also got the chance to go the the Victoria and Albert Museum to take more photos of mosaics for my second milestone but I was disappointing that the mosaic collection was incredible limited but it gave me some more colorful options for my mosaic. I also did a bit of research into other books for my second milestone and create the basic outline for the design of my mosaic.

Week 5

Activity #1 The British Museum & Romeo and Juliet

The British Museum today served as more inspiration for my second milestone in that I took more photos of mosaics and I got up close and personal with some Roman mosaics. I want to make another mosaic for milestone two in a Roman style that either depicts a figure or animal, maybe including some of the mythology; this would link the history I initially read about before I decided to scope down to just techniques and materials needed. Romeo and Juliet was odd to say the least with creepy clown makeup, dub-step, and complete breaks of character as only some of the oddities. It was fun to see the show with such a modern interpretation, but I feel it went almost too far with the modernization in some aspects (clown makeup) and lacking in others (keeping the original Shakespearean dialog). I was glad I got to see the play, but it is not something I would go out of my way to see again.

Activity #2 Stonehenge, Bath, and Lacock

I really enjoyed the tour of these three locations, as they were places I originally planned to visit when my parents were in London. I though Stonehenge would have been bigger, as many of the photos capture it that way, and I was disappointing that it was roped off. I find it funny that we know so little about what its purpose is so even the wildest speculations could be true (i.e. aliens). Bath was interesting in that the city's main attraction could almost be viewed as a hoax, with it recent construction date. I understand the history and why it isn't, but that reconstruction with the insides antiqued makes me laugh that people believe that it is actually a Roman building. Lacock was cool because it was a trip into the land of Hollywood without leaving England. I thought the church and buildings looked familiar, and it was nice to have someone confirm my suspicions. I feel horrible for the people who live in the house they filmed Harry Potter's parents dying, as the constant flow of tourists taking photos of your house and even encroaching onto the property must get old real fast.

Week 6

Activity #1 Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle was surprisingly small compared to how it looks. I understand that it is a working royal castle where the Queen actively spends her weekends, but it was painfully small compared to what I was expecting after Hampton Court Palace. I don't understand this country's obsession with audio tours, for once I just want a human over technology. The doll house and porcelain doll collection was nightmare fuel. I cannot grasp that people find those dolls cute, they are utterly terrifying. I feel bad for going into places and just cracking jokes about all of the paintings of rich white men in tights, but I know deep down that I do appreciate the art. It is also funny to me how expansive the castle is for just a few people. If Britain was so concerned about the homeless population they could house so many people in unused castles.

Activity #2 Stained Glass Workshop

This was my big day, a chance to see the theoretical knowledge from the past four weeks put into practice. Arriving at the studio was odd because the studio is located in the Bow Arts Trust building among many other studios, in addition to being inside another building the studio was three floors up from a tiny doorway in an alley. The entire day was surreal, in that for the first time in a while I felt completely comfortable trying something new. The window sadly ended up being much simpler than my original design, but I am proud of what I accomplished in approximately seven hours. The weirdest part of the day was that an Persian news network was filming the workshop for a segment on a daytime television show about crafts in London. I am happy to say that I escaped unscathed from my adventure with a large amount of lead and sharp glass, and I gave myself a pat on the back for that. The new challenge now is getting the window home without breaking the bank.

My Complete Contributions

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