Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Anish Kapoor at the Olympics?

I've become a fan of the work of Anish Kapoor, making two visits to his brilliant show at the Royal Academy last autumn. I certainly plan to visit his work at The Farm on my trip to New Zealand next year. Meanwhile, there appears to be an exciting development at the Olympic Park - as well as an interesting article about Art and Architecture here.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

I’m a Photographer Not A Terrorist

I have written here before (10th December 2009) about the interpretation of section 44 of the Terrorism Act and the impact on street photographers. There are useful articles which explain the background and context here and here

There seemed to be a limited acknowledgment late last year by senior police that their implementation of this was becoming heavy-handed. However, people continue to be frustrated and have become sufficiently hacked-off to now get organised. Objections and protest seem largely gathered around the organisation “I’m a Photographer Not A Terrorist” which is running a good website, giving legal advice for those affected, and generally leading a well intentioned campaign.

I went to the demonstration in Trafalgar Square yesterday, which is reported on the BBC andon Sky News.

There was a large and jolly crowd, lots of good humour, and plenty of press and tv attendance. Police presence seemed to be limited to just two Community Support Offices. My own minor contribution was a video interview with a reporter from WinkBall – no I hadn’t heard of it either, but it had several people there, equipped with the impressiveFlip video cameras. An explanation of what WinkBall.com is about here: http://soa.sys-con.com/node/1256656

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Samuel Pepys

It is 350 years since Samuel Pepys started writing his diary of life in London.

BBC Four had a good programme about Pepys last night (not available in iPlayer), and last week Dan Cruickshank wrote a piece in the Times which included a suggested walk through those parts of the City of London which Pepys would have known. Last Sunday, on the first bright day this month, I set out to follow this. If you are interested in taking the walk, Dan’s article can be found here, and it’s worth printing it out to use as a guide.

Along the route are many other things to see including burial grounds, some fine Wren churches, narrow cobbled alleyways, a pub that dates from before the great fire, many commemorative plaques, and of course the Monument by Christopher Wren, looking splendid in the afternoon sun after its restoration last year

The start point is just north of the Tower of London, in Seething Lane, and rather hidden away to one side, in the locked garden, we can see a bust of the man himself.

At the top of Seething Lane is St Olave’s, the church where Pepys and his wife worshipped and are buried.

One of the newer pieces of art installed in the City. “Gilt of Cain” by sculptor Michael Visocchi and poet Lemn Sissay (2008) commemorates the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. It stands in Fen Court, site of an old churchyard, which has been landcaped. There are many of these small hidden squares in the City, usually associated with a church.

The Great Fire in 1666 devastated 436 acres, consumed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, and most of the buildings of the City authorities.

Almost all the old buildings and churches from Pepys time are now surrounded by giant office buildings, in use or under construction.

St Stephen Wallbrook, which claims "the most perfectly proportioned interior in the world" was rebuilt by Wren after the Great Fire. He took a special interest in this as it was his own parish church, and is where he is buried. Again, it is now overshadowed by new office buildings. The Samaritans was founded here by the late Chad Varah, rector of the church.

The walk, as outlined by Dan Cruickshank, finishes at St Dunstan in the West, on the north side of Fleet Street. What took place here is described by Pepys in his inimitable manner: “Being weary, turned into St Dunstan’s church ... and stood by a pretty, modest maid, whom I did labour to take by the hand and the body; but she would not, but got further and further from me, and at last I could perceive her to take pins out of her pocket to prick me if I should touch her again, which seeing I did forbear.”

When the sermon ended so did Pepys’s “amours”. Exhausted, he trudged home to his wife and his supper — ending our route, too, on the mischievous note that characterises so much of his diary, and brings to life the layers and lanes of London that have long since been built over.

You can read Pepys diary entries complete for this period but before you do you might like a short note on the background and context: http://www.pepysdiary.com/about/history/

The full diary is here: http://www.pepysdiary.com/archive/1666/09/

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Sunset over Hyde Park

In vino veritas

This is in Bulls Head Passage, just off Leadenhall Market in the City.

They have an interesting offer: "On offer is a range of over 450 wines, plus wines by the glass. The wines will be on display with tasting notes and off-sales also catered for. To drink the wine in the bar simply add a flat £10 regardless of the retail price, therefore a bottle of Louis Roederer N.V Champagne will be £32.00 retail and £42.00 to drink in the bar, a simple, transparent and excellent value way to enjoy a fabulous bottle of wine."

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Building a snowman?

Still got some snow on the ground where you live? Fancy building a snowman?
You'd be well advised to study these brief guidelines before starting.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Channel 4

Walking through a side street in Westminster yesterday I came across this, presumably a piece of public art in front of some corporate headquarters. What is it? What’s it about, and why the umbrellas?

Walk forward a few more steps and all becomes clear: it’s the Channel Four logo. Isn’t that clever.

The piece is by Stephanie Imbeau and there is more about it on her webpage at: http://www.stephanieimbeau.com/

The building is of course the Channel Four headquarters, designed by Richard Rogers and completed in 1994.

“The clients were looking for a scheme which expressed the character of their operations – innovative, socially aware and willing to take risks. The building admirably expresses the perceived identity of the organization while reflecting civic and contextual values which are central to RRP’s urban architecture.”

You can see more about this project on the Rogers site.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Christmas cards

I have noticed over recent years the move to home-made cards at Christmas. I imagine this will increase, particularly with the use of digital cameras, painting programmes on pc's and Macs, and of course some very talented friends.

Here are three great examples I received this year, all done by children:

2009 Christmas

Heading north for Christmas in Leeds, on the newly nationalised East Coast Trains.

That's one way to clear the ice off the car.

Hannah and Toby, home for the holiday.

Christmas Eve: over 40 people queue outside the butcher.

Roundhay Park on Christmas morning, with many people enjoying the sun and snow, walking dogs and sledging.

This lovely dalmation ran up and down Hill 60 chasing the sledgers

Boxing Day: Robin and Hannah, drinking tea!

I found this Robin red breast beside Waterloo lake.

Still more presents to unwrap

A mobile snowman on Roman Avenue.

The New Year 2010

Back in London for a Full English breakfast in Hackney

Lunch in Notting Hill

The wildlife have a hard time in the Basin

While the boats are iced-in on the Regent's Canal

A giant snowman keeps watch in de Beauvoir Square

I can't imagine there is much business for the Garden Centre in this weather

And the church doesn't seem too welcoming either

Still, the pub looks cosy.