Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Friday, 23 December 2011

Seven noses of Soho

This object high on a wall in Meard Street, in the heart of Soho, is a nose by sculptor Rick Buckley. There are rumoured to be seven noses dotted around Soho.

Incensed by the introduction of CCTV cameras by Westminster Council the artist put the noses under the ‘noses’ of cameras as a protest. There were originally as many as 35 scattered around London on buildings such as Tate Britain and the National Gallery but most have now disappeared. 

The first appeared in 1996 and the last cast was left in 2005. There is also an ear in Floral Street but thats by artist Tim Fishlock. I'm not making this stuff up! It's true.

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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Three icons in Trafalgar Square

Three symbols all in some way related to conflict and war.

The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, which is approximately 20 metres high and 50 to 60 years old, has been an annual gift to London since 1947 from the city of Oslo. It is a token of gratitude for British support of Norway during the Second World War.

The Menorah celebrates the Jewish festival of Chanukah and a military victory that threatened the Holy Land some 2,100 years ago. It represents a beacon against religious bigotry and persecution

Nelson’s column commemorates victory over the French at the Battle of Trafalgar, which seems like a perfectly good reason to honour the old fella.

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Sunday, 18 December 2011

Bermondsey Street

With its close proximity to the Pool of London and the growing dock trade early 19th century Bermondsey Street became a warren of warehouses specialising in hide and skin and the production and dying of leather goods.

It is now home to chic shops, restaurants, apartments and the White Cube Gallery. Down this unassuming alley way was the 1960's rehearsal studio cum-storage space for the Rolling Stones. Other bands to rehearse here include The Faces, Jeff Beck and Jethro Tull to name but a few. 

The street also contains some original features on former 19th century warehouses, which are now very expensive apartments but still include the iron hoists used to lift bails of product to the top of each building.

The transformation of the street began with the arrival of Zandra Rhodes, Fashion and Textile Museum designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta. The museum claims its address to be Bermondsey “Village”, which is an indication of how far (should that be too far) the area has changed from its working class, industrial origins. Once the museum was established the gastro pubs and tapas bars followed. The ultimate proof of Bermondsey Street’s makeover is the arrival of Jay Jopling’s White Cube Gallery.

Fashion and Textile Museum
Towards the end of the street is the Time and Talents Settlement building, which was built in 1907, as stated in the arts and crafts lettering carved into the stone frieze. So poor and destitute were the people of Bermondsey that well-meaning, middle class volunteers would settle in the area to share knowledge, culture and skills with their impoverished neighbours. The aim was to get the rich and poor in society to live more closely together. The building hosted clubs and campaigned on such issues as factory girl’s safety in the work place.

At the very end of the street is an excellent, newly opened gallery currently showing the work of Martin Grover. Originally one of a couple of small outbuildings attached to the nearby St Mary Magdalen church known as "The old watchhouses". While I don’t think the White Cube has much to worry about this tiny gallery space seems somehow more in keeping with the spirit of the area.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Ghost Sign # 10

Not so much a ghost sign, more of a message from the Grim Reaper. I guess the demolition will take the 'Holy Spirit Church Centre' with it, or at least what’s left of it. The estate conjures up the spirit of Alex DeLarge and he’s gang. “There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening.”  ‘A Clockwork Orange’ was filmed on a similar estate, Thamesmead, only a few miles away. This early 70’s concrete monstrosity was also home to a real life terror cell and terrorist training facility, which was uncovered in October 2001.

Demolition seems like a good idea.

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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Saatchi Gallery - Gesamtkunstwerk

Monday night private view at the Saatchi Gallery. Gesamtkunstwerk is an interesting collection of German contemporary art. Schwarze Ballons is a nine-part installation by Thomas Zipp, which includes these two large black balloon-shaped sculptures.

Richard Wilson - 20:50
The only permanent piece in the gallery is this contemporary masterpiece by Richard Wilson. The room is completely flooded with thick, black, indelible, recycled engine oil perhaps three feet deep. It looks like a polished floor yet also appears as a bottomless pool mirroring the galleries architecture. The illusion it creates is a stroke of genius!

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Saturday, 3 December 2011

Canada Water Library

The government and local councils are closing local libraries as they slash spending in an attempt to create the PM’s, Orwellian ‘Big Society’. Despite this Southwark council have spent £14 million on the excellent Canada Water Library in Rotherhithe on land that was once Surrey Docks.

The inverted pyramid shape is clad in a gold anodised mesh, designed by Piers Gough of CZWGv and is connected directly to Canada Water underground station. It contains a 150 seat theatre, water side café, adult, teenage and children’s library as well as free Wi-Fi and free PC hire.

The library is full of students, parents with their children and people just pleased to be in such a modern, vibrant building where they can read, learn, study or look for new jobs by using the IT services available. Now that’s the real ‘Big Society’ in action.

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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Cityscape by Evol

Street art by Berlin based artist Evol. Using stencils and spray cans he creates miniature cityscapes on familiar everyday objects such as these concrete blocks. These pictures were taken in Smithfield meat market.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

"Give it away".

Just seen these bass guitars in a gallery in Bond Street. Flea, the bass player with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, has teamed up with Damien Hirst to create a limited edition of fifty spin painted bass guitars. Each sell for £50,000 with the proceeds going to the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, which provides free music lessons and instruments to underprivileged kids.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

National Gallery - Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan

"The National Gallery's Leonardo exhibition promises a once-in-a-lifetime chance to view the artist's finest paintings and drawings". Jonathan Jones- The Guardian

Leonardo’s London Blockbuster: The Movie - New York Times 15 February 2012

The ghost of raves past

The ghostly remains of a deserted East End warehouse used during the London rave scene. The artist is Gary Miller. 

Friday, 18 November 2011

Tower Of London

Construction started on the Tower of London in 1078 and was completed during the reign of Edward I almost 200 years later.  It was once the tallest building in London, designed to dominate the population and provide security for the Norman invaders. This was provided by the 90 feet high and 15 feet thick walls of the White Tower.

Today visitors are welcomed with open arms, including potential Norman invaders. The Tower is strictly for the tourists with Londoners taking the building for granted having only visited on school trips or when Grandparents took them to see the Crown Jewels.

The 18 acre site has had a new lease of life with concerts being held in the surrounding moat. It also has the obligatory ice rink at this time of year. Not sure that William I would have been that impressed.

'Surrounding modern buildings show no respect for theTower of London' -Simon Jenkins, Guardian, Friday 20 January 2012

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Borough Market

Christmas is coming but unfortunately not for this selection of wild fowl at the Borough Market.

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Rival Sons

Thursday night – O2 Academy Islington. Saw Rival Sons play this good little venue. The 800 capacity was sold out. Get to see this great band while tickets are still only £9 because soon you will need to pay stadium prices.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Art Deco in Oxford Street


Found this wonderful building in Oxford Street, which is now unfortunately an O2 store. Must have walked past this spot a hundred times and never noticed it. 

Psychogeograph - "just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape". - Joseph Hart, "A New Way of Walking,"

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Concours d'Elegance - Regents St

The start of chilly November is synonymous with many traditions that Londoners revere. Bonfire night, the Lord Mayors show and the London to Brighton veteran car rally. These events, while no longer celebrated or attended as they once were, are part of the London mind-set. We may not want to take part ourselves but are glad that others do. A very London attitude.
The London to Brighton rally, the oldest motor car rally in the world, held a ‘Contours d’Elegance’ in Regents Street of at least 100 of the 500 cars entering into the rally along with a display of E-Type Jags, Mini Coopers, cars of the future and Bluebird.
I’m not a great fan of ‘veteran’ cars (why are they called veteran and not vintage?). The thought of being stuck on the side of the road, half way to Brighton with water pouring from a 100 year old radiator is not my idea of fun. But that’s just me and from the size of the crowd in Regents Street yesterday my cynicism is not shared by many.

I love E-Type Jags but found yesterday’s display a disappointment. A thing of beauty is usually a thing of rarity and to see so many of these vehicles side by side seemed to turn Regents Street into just a glorified car park.

You should never let light in on magic or get to meet your heroes. To see the interior of these cars, with their wooden steering wheels (certainly no air bags) and buttons and switches just waiting to come off in your hand raised fears that you would soon be parked up ‘half way to Brighton’ behind the leaking veterans.

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