Da Vinci Versus Chips

Picture it…a cold, wet, miserable Sunday in February.

We’d already spent a painfully long Saturday inside sheltering from the rain and wind, and cabin fever was well and truly setting in.

You know exactly what I’m talking about.

There’s only so many times you can dance to Baby Shark with your toddler or play Mousetrap with your old-before-her-time five-year-old daughter before boredom sets in.

At 21-months-old, Ethan’s favourite past-times are climbing, saying ‘no’ at every available opportunity, visiting the donkey that lives at the bottom of our lane and tap dancing on the kitchen table (see first hobby).

Turning to Grace, Barbie, colouring in, rainbows, unicorns and slime are the flavour of the month, if you can combine them all together even better.

By 11am on Sunday, I knew we had to get out of the house.

But, what to do?

Anything outdoors was out of the question, but I needed to find something that would allow us to blow off some steam, while at the same time capturing the imaginations of my boisterous boy and his perpetually inquisitive sister.

A trip to the Ulster Museum seemed like the perfect solution, particularly as it was taking part in a nationwide event to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo Da Vinci.

I was more than a little excited at the prospect of getting to view some of his work in person, but would my little people share my enthusiasm?

The museum is always a hit – how could it be anything but?

With replicas of dinosaurs and wild animals, treasure from sunken ships and ancient weaponry, it certainly captures their imaginations.

Sadly, however, the same cannot be said for the Da Vinci exhibition.

While I was captivated and could have spent hours gazing at the drawings, drinking in every last overwhelming, incredible detail, the significance is somewhat lost on children.

By the time we arrived on the fourth floor, Ethan was totally fed up being in his buggy – let’s be honest, a toy dinosaur enthusiast was never going to be blown away in an art gallery.

I had higher hopes for Grace, but it turned out her priority was getting to the coffee shop for a plate of chips.

On further questioning, it turned out she’d had chips during a previous visit to the museum with the childminder and there was salt on them.

I should explain at this point that I don’t let her have salt at home (it’s my fairly feeble attempt at healthy eating).

The result is, however, that salt now has roughly the same appeal to Grace as a bar of Dairy Milk has to me 30 days into lent.

I did try and convince her that she should at least try and appreciate these breathtaking works of art, but the conversation went as follows:

Me: “Look at that drawing, look at the way he has drawn her arm Grace, look at the detail of her sleeve, it’s amazing.”

Grace: “Why?”

Me: “Just look how much work has gone into it, they’re incredible. They’re more than 500 years old.”

Grace: “So?”

Me: “What do you mean ‘so?’, this is something drawn by Leonardo Da Vinci, he’s one of the most respected artists ever, he was a genius, he actually touched this paper, he drew these.”

Grace: “I don’t see what the big deal is. He didn’t even bother to colour them in, I could do better.”

It was at this stage I realised this was an argument I was never going to win, the lure of chips sprinkled with salt was just too much.

It turns out when you’re five-years-old and you have to choose between Da Vinci and chips, the fried potato wins every time.

Leonardo Da Vinci: A Life in Drawing will be at the Ulster Museum until 6th May

Ulster Museum

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