The Royal Armouries, Leeds 7.5.15


We’ve been meaning to visit here since we moved in 4 years ago, and not quite got round to it.  It’s a significant “attraction”; the local outpost of the Imperial War Museum in London, and so is important I guess, respectable and somewhat “establishment”.  The building is purpose built and rather splendid, on the south bank of the River Aire.  The ground floor offers the “Nelson Bistro” which served us a decent enough snack lunch, and the inevitable shop (which we avoided); it leads on to the tower featured in the first four images.  This is visually spectacular, viewed either through the huge mirror at its base, of with a cricked neck – or through the moveable screen on the back of the camera!  To my eye the contents and the shape become abstracted into a curious, almost spaceship like construction.

Moving into the galleries, the emphasis comes directly on to the weaponry which is at the heart of the museum.  We both found there sheer, relentless scale and scope of it all of it all to be increasingly difficult and oppressive.  These are implements of death and destruction – obviously – and there was not reason to be surprised by that.  I think I was struck by two essentially negative thoughts – the one was that this was about combat at an intimate level, even when considering the considerable number of modern firearms.  This is about one person killing another, whether in attack or defence.  The second was that these weapons were the result of design and technology – in other words someone has sat down at a drawing board and considered how most effectively to devise and improve the efficiency of them.  I remember picking up the thought somewhere that somebody had had the inspiration that lead to the creation of napalm.

These scruples are being expressed by one who enjoys the Jack Reacher novels of Lee Child, and the Bond films et al – and I can’t avoid the charge of hypocrisy!  The horns of a dilemma, which I suppose could be seen as the luxury of a relatively peaceful existence in suburban England!

We escaped the emotional tension of that fairly briskly for the open air and I’ve tacked on a few photographs made around the area.   It was probably a foolishness to render the interiors in monochrome and the exteriors in colour – but then again, maybe not!

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