Friday, 29 July 2011

Thursday night in London

At last a warm summers night in London and two ‘Private views’ to attend. The first is at the Lazarides Gallery in Rathbone Place and features hyperrealist painter, Boxi. Life size stencil work in various shades of grey, which the hand-out states “would not exist were it not for failed dreams and flawed excuses” I like that. A good exhibition, worth seeing.

After Lazarides it’s just a short walk to the next complementary drink at Art Republic in Old Compton Street.  They are hosting a special event to mark the release of “Eagle” by Dave White. The gallery also includes good pieces by other artists, including Sir Peter Blake. Despite his work being over forty years old it fits in well with current and contemporary artists. My only objection is that the work seems to have been produced on an industrial scale with ‘limited’ editions being in thousands (signed metal plaques at a reasonable £50 being sold as a run of 5,000) surely makes Peter Blake a professional autograph writer. Still, we all have to earn a living. Art Republic is the type of gallery that makes London a better place to live and work. More power to its elbow and especially to Peter Blake who has all that signing to do.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


James Smith and Sons have been selling umbrellas and walking stocks for the past 175 years from this New Oxford Street shop.  Their window display claims they also make dagger sticks and sword canes.

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Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Arnold Circus band stand

The bandstand in Arnold Circus was built for the residents of Boundary Estate. Opened in 1900 by the Prince of Wales, Edward VII, the surrounding flats were built to replace the most notorious slums in London.  The demolishing of the ‘Old Nichol’ was championed by the Reverend Osborne Jay and the writer Arthur Morrison.  The reverends persuasion and Morrison’s ‘A Child of the Jago’ persuaded the newly formed London County Council to improve the conditions of the working class in the East End of London.

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Sunday, 17 July 2011

Handels's 'Water Music'

On this day in 1717 two barges sailed on the Thames from Lambeth to Chelsea. One carried George I and his friend’s; the other was filled with musicians. It was the debut of Handel’s ‘Water Music’. There are two theories to this story. One is that George I need the music to drown out the abuse he received from passing Thames watermen and the other is that George, being German, wanted to be associated with one of the foundations of English identity.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Hofesh Shechter - Political Mother

Saw Hofesh Shechter's 'Political Mother' at Sadler's Wells on Friday night and it was one of the best night's I have ever spent in a theatre. 24 musicians producing a classical and thunderous rock score that has to be seen and heard to be believed. A total assault on the senses. And that's without the dancers, who were also fantastic. This is a must see show.

Yuri Gagarin

A statue has been erected of Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin outside the British Council in the Mall. Made from alloy used in the construction of rockets it is a gift to London from the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos.  The statue shows Gagarin in a space suit and is cast from the original mould used for a statue in the town of Lyubertsy, where Gagarin trained as a foundry worker.

To me Yuri Gagarin is the ultimate hero. The first animal to orbit the earth Laika the ‘space dog’ unfortunately died in space. Despite this on 12th April 1961 Yuri Gagarin was strapped into a rocket, the Vostok 1 space capsule and blasted into space. Orbit was achieved by falling back to earth, which due to the curvature of the planet he kept missing and therefore completed an orbit. This not only sounds impossible it seems insanely dangerous. Space travel seems almost mundane now but the bravery of this man is just immeasurable.

Gagarin visited London as part of a world tour and must have passed the very spot where the statue now stands when he had lunch with the Queen at Buckingham palace. He was driven there in a Rolls Royce, number plate YG1. The visit was not looked on so auspiciously by all in authority as this was just a month before the Berlin Wall was raised. He died on 27th March 1968 while flying a MiG in bad weather conditions and he’s ashes were buried within the walls of the Kremlin in Red Square.

Yuri Gagarin is a true modern hero.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

London - Old & New

Shoreditch looking towards the City


16th century Southwark Cathedral overlooked by the wind turbines on top of the 21st century Strata 'Razor' Tower at the Elephant and Castle
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Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Bird House

A pigeon poses for its picture along the Regents Canal obviously unable to get accommodation in one of Islington’s more desirable, multi-story bird houses.

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Sunday, 10 July 2011

Saturday, 9 July 2011

I Was There In Arcadia - Alastair Mackie


Thursday night private view at the Pertwee Anderson and Gold gallery Bateman Street in the heart of Soho. 'I was there, in Arcadia' by Alastair Mackie. Many good pieces including taxidermy in silvered bell jars and these four globes of mouse skulls (which I must admit is not very clear from the picture). Having swallowed its prey whole, the owls digestive system will extract any nutrition. The indigestible parts are then regurgitated as a compressed pellet. From these the skulls are extracted and the sculptures are built.

Great exhibition and great gallery space. 
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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square can be used for many things. Street hockey on Canada Day, which was last Friday or......... a camp site for 3,000 Harry Potter fans who slept there over night to be the first to receive wristbands giving them access to a red carpet event in the square tomorrow night.


Will Self: why I hate London's Trafalgar Square -Guardian, Friday 20th January 2012

Saturday, 2 July 2011

East End shops

What London shops looked like before the arrival of supermarkets. Brushfield Street, E1.

Not sure how A. Gold 'French Milliner' became A. Gold 'Traditional Foods of Britain'. Could be where the expression "I'll eat my hat" originated.

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