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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