Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Jeremy Deller - Joy in People

Jeremy Deller - Joy in People

Opens: 22/02/2012 Closes: 13/05/2012 Hayward Gallery, London

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Royal Garrison Church of St George

The Royal Garrison Church of St George in Woolwich was destroyed by a flying bomb on 13 July 1944

It has now been preserved as a memorial garden containing the VC memorial of the Royal Artillery Regiment. The remains are still regarded as consecrated ground and host services for the Royal Artillery Barracks.

The church walls survived the attack as did some of the decorative features along with the alter and mosaic of St George and the dragon. Marble tablets containing names of gunners awarded the Victoria Cross, dating back to the Crimea War, also survived.

This neglected Grade II listed buiding, built in 1867, has just been awared a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. A fabric roof will offer protection against the elements and once finished will be open to the public.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Olympics - Woolwich Barracks

I have tried to avoid mentioning the Olympics as it seems too easy a subject. London already creaks under the weight of 3.5 million people using public transport each day but the Olympics will attract a further 3 million (each day). Needless to say Londoners are bracing themselves for meltdown despite what officialdom may lead the world to believe. I hope it goes well but at what cost to London. 

The official Olympic site and village to the east of London has been built on time which bodes well for the event. Unfortunately so has this monstrosity on Woolwich Common, which is home to the shooting events and paraplegic archery.

Ironically built along side Ha Ha Road this £40 million, temporary venue will leave no lasting 'Olympic legacy' and will be dismantled as soon as the show leaves town. This is not such a bad idea for such an ugly building but what a waste of money and what a wasted opportunity.

Its logical for Woolwich to be used as the Olympic shooting events venue given it's historic links to the Woolwich Arsenal and barracks. Unfortunately the backdrop to the event will be a 62ft high ballistic screen to avoid the locals being shot. The original artists impression, that formed part of the official Olympic bid, was of a female participant taking aim in front of the Grade II listed, Royal Artillery barracks, the longest Georgian terrace in Europe. Now the world will just see a large screen and something that looks like a giant bouncy castle off the set of Dr Who.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Islington Theatre Pubs

London's fringe theatreland includes a healthy amount of 'theatre pubs' in Islington.

The Hen & Chickens, on Highbury Corner, has been a  theatre pub for over 10 years. It's comedy nights have cult status with the likes of the Mighty Boosh, Russel Brand and Jimmy Carr all appearing here.

The Hope and Anchor is not a theatre pub but back in to late 70's and 80's was one of the most important live music venues in London. The cellar was key to the 70's punk scene and such bands as U2 and Elvis Costello also performed here. U2 played on 4 December 1979 in front of only nine paying punters.

And then there was Madness. Filmed on the stairs to the cellar and on stage at this fine old venue.

The Kings Head in Upper Street is the daddy of all theatre pubs. Actors who have appeared here include Hugh Grant, Joanna Lumley and Alan Rickman. This is no amateur hour.

Now a Watersons book shop this building was once Wiltons Music Hall, a 1,800 seat auditorium, which also contained 10 bars. It was one of London's most famous music halls.

The Old Red Lion has only been a theatre pub since 1979 but is one of London's oldest pubs, occupying this site sine 1415, when Islington was just a rural village. The theatre seats only 60 and operates "a pay what you can" scheme on Thursday's.

View Upper Street in a larger map

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Two Temple Place

Two Temple Place, or Astor House as it is also known, was built by the American William Waldorf Astor (31 March 1848 – 18 October 1919) on the Victoria Embankment in 1895 as a home for the Astor family. The architect was John Loughborough Pearson regarded as the founder of Modern Gothic and is an Arts & Craft gold mine.

It is now the home of the Bulldog Trust (hence the sign) which gives financial and advisory help to charities and aims to inspire philanthropy.

Two Temple Place has now opened its doors to the general public as an exhibition space to display publicly-owned art from around the UK. The first exhibition featured William Morris: Story, Memory, Myth. It was fantastic.

The entrance features two bronze lamp standards of small boys. One holds a telephone, the other a globe to signify the new age of telecommunication.

Astor’s favourite novel was Alexandre Dumas, “The Three Musketeers” and he commissioned Thomas Nicholls to carve mahogany newel posts of  D’Artagnan, Madame Bonacieux, Aramis and other characters from the story. The stair well is finished off with a stained glass roof.

Unfortunately photography was not allowed inside the building but click here for a glimpse of the interior.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Cleopatra's Needle

Cleopatra’s Needle on Victoria Embankment is one of a pair. The other is in Central Park, New York. London’s needle was presented to the UK in 1819 by Muhammad Ali the ruler of Egypt and Sudan to commemorate Nelsons victory in the Battle of the Nile and Abercromby’s victory at Alexandria.

The 21 metre, 224 ton obelisk is misnamed as it has no connection to Cleopatra who ruled 1,000 years after it was created, which was during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III.

The needle remained buried in sand for over two thousand years which helped preserve the hieroglyphics (until Londons polluted air got at it). In 1877 a bespoke craft was commissioned to tow the needle from Egypt to London and was almost lost during bad weather in the Bay of Biscay, when six crew were lost trying to stabilise the craft

It was finally erected in its current position on 12 September 1878

Cleopatra's Needle is flanked by two fake Egyptian sphinxes cast in bronze. The stone base of each was damaged on 4 September 1917 in a German air raid. The shrapnel damage can still be seen to this day.