Saturday, 25 August 2012

Cleaning the Shard

The small, black dots on the surface of the Shard are actually window cleaners. These men are abseiling down the building.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Cutty Sark, Greenwich

The Cutty Sark has finally been restored to its former glory. Having survived pounding seas, thunderous storms, a fire and a drubbing by thousands of school children the former tea clipper, the Concorde of its day, now sits on the crest of a skirt of glass as if still riding the waves.

The ship was badly damaged, almost destroyed, by fire in May 2007. There was an outpouring of public sympathy for the old girl and £50m was raised to complete the restoration. Every cloud has a silver lining.

The Cutty Sark was one of the last, and fastest, tea clippers to sail between Britain and the Far East. Her name is taken from the Robert Burn’s poem Tam O’Shanter, which refers to a shapely witch wearing only a cutty sark. Built in 1869 in Dumbarton, Scotland, for John Willis, a London ship owner the construction bankrupted the builders Scott and Linton. The ship was given a complete refit in 1922 and served as a training ship during the Second World War. The ship has remained in dry dock, in Greenwich since 1954

The tall masts once again tower over Greenwich. The ship seems to be straining at the leash to once again be on the high seas rather than trapped, land locked as a permanent museum piece, it's 921 tons eerily floating three metres above visitors drinking their coffee in the space created underneath the great ship.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Old Royal Naval College

My last Olympics picture, I promise. I have gone from being cynical about the whole thing to, like most Londoners, not being able to talk about anything else.

This picture was taken yesterday in Greenwich. In the distance, between Wrens masterpiece of the Chapel in Queen Mary Court (left) and the Painted Hall in King William Court (right), can be seen spectators watching the Modern Pentathlon.

The games have been so well organised that Greenwich felt like an ordinary sunny Sunday yet a major world event was happening within the grounds of Queens House with the whole world watching.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

The Olympic Rings by Mr Brainwash

Olympic Houses

One of the surprising spin offs from the Olympics and one I never realised happened at such events is the creation of Olympic Houses. Many of the competing countries have created national hospitality houses to entertain athletes and VIP’s. Some are open to the public and the venues are used for hosting medal ceremonies, exhibitions, concerts and parties.

I understand that Holland House, based at Alexandra Palace, is the place to be as the Dutch know how to party, hence it's full title Holland Heineken House. 

Denmark is based at St Catherine’s Dock and brought a life size Viking long boat with them.

I visited Czech House at the Business Design Centre in Islington, which was used by the Czech Olympic Committee, the Czech Government and a Czech television station. Attractions included live basketball , huge screens showing the games, a London bus doing press ups (created by David Cerny) and a very well stocked bar full of the finest the Czech Republic has to offer.

Lasvit, Czech glass and crystal manufacturer: crystal lighting sculpture and hydrogene LED bar (click here) - Designboom

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

"Art cannot be criticized because every mistake is a new creation" - Mr Brainwash

On Sunday people queued for two to three hours to see Mr Brainwash at the Old Sorting Office, New Oxford Street. Is it Mr Brainwash or is it Banksy. I don’t know and I don’t care. The show was buzzing and it was good to be invited.

The work if not by Banksy is a direct copy of his style and subject matter. Los Angeles artist Thierry Guetta, aka Mr Brainwash, famous as the star of Banksy documentary “Exit Through The Gift Shop” was there frantically signing as many posters as there were people in the queue.

The Old Sorting Office, a derelict warehouse in the West End, is a great venue for such an exhibition. When Carl Andre’s “Pile of Bricks” was first exhibited at the Tate Gallery there was an outcry.  A pile of bricks only becomes a work of art when exhibited in a gallery. When piled up in a car park they are just a pile of bricks. Put them in the Old Sorting Office and they can be a 'masterpiece' or a H & S hazard. No one cares.

‘Pity the fool’ that buys any of Mr Brainwash’s art as an investment. If you like it and can spare £26k for an original picture then great, buy it. If not, pick up one of the free posters and enjoy that instead.

The whole exhibition had the feel of a Theme Park with people rushing around taking photographs, me included. I have never seen such enthusiasm with punters posing to have their picture taken in front of the work and an enormous gorilla made from old tyres was very popular. I even saw a women swinging from its arms.

It may all be a hoax. Mr Brainwash admitted that he is “Banksy’s biggest work of art”. It all makes perfect sense at the Old Sorting Office. I’d rather see the work in an old warehouse or down a dark alley then in a smart gallery in Knightsbridge, where Banksy work has now drifted, attached to an extremely high price tag.

See it and enjoy yourself.