Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Michael Landy - Acts of Kindness

So much public art installed around London looks very expensive; even some installations that are intended to have a short life. What may well have started on paper as a good idea, at an acceptable cost, can result in huge installation costs, and sometimes to require large budgets for their upkeep.

That’s one reason why I’m very taken by the Acts of Kindness, a project by artist Michael Landy, which records and celebrates everyday generosity and compassion on the London Underground. Landy invited passengers and staff to send in stories of kindness that they had seen or been part of on the Tube.

It is simple, comes from real people, telling their own stories, and must have been one of the cheapest public art projects ever. It is simply printed on vinyl sheets and stuck on appropriate walls on the Tube for all to see. The stories I've seen are warming, and bring a smile to the face.

My only mild quibble is that it would have been nice to have translations: in this Olympic Year it would be good for our foreign visitors to read about some of the better things that happen.

Hear Michael Landy talking about the project here.

Many more tales have been submitted than can be installed: you can read them here.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The growth of cities

In this context, a magalopolis is reckoned to be acity of 10 miilion or more.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Dale Chihuly

The swanky art galleries of Mayfair are not my normal stomping ground. Big imposing buildings, guards on the door, expansive reception lobbies with expensive flower displays, a certain type of young lady at the reception desk, and exhibition catalogues at prices I couldn’t possibly afford. And then there’s the art, good or bad, my taste or not, but always priced in megabucks.

Last month I met up with a friend for our Christmas lunch, who then walked me over to the Halcyon Gallery in New Bond Street, promising something very special.

Dale Chihuly is an American sculptor who works in glass, generally producing complex, connected, inter-twining pieces, on a very large scale (at presumably very large prices; I didn’t even look). And they are fabulous.

The installations are very large, often a single piece fills a whole gallery. Each is composed of many pieces, intricately combined to create a whole. All are hand produced, blown into incredible shapes and structures, and finished with fabulous colouring. They appear to have no visible fixings, one to the other, other than glass. Some are simple, tall shapes, boldly finished in perhaps two colours. Others are equally large, yet much more delicate, with softer colours, allowing lights to pass through and throw wonderful patterns onto the wall and floor.

I realised I had seen one example of Chihuly’s work previously. It hangs in the main entrance of the Victoria and Albert Museum, a huge chandelier, 9 metres high.

This photograph c Andrew Dunn

The exhibition continues at the Halcyon until 31st March. If you are able to, do go along. Entry is free, the staff are welcoming, you won’t need to buy a catalogue, and they’ll let you take photographs too. You can see more photographs on the Halcyon Gallery website here

Saturday, 7 January 2012

London photos

Friday 6th
A week of high winds and heavy rain, right across the country, has cleared in London today, giving us sun and blue skies - just the weather for taking some photographs. (double-click on each photo to see a larger size).

The Palace of Westminster, south face, seen from Victoria Tower Gardens. This is the end of the building which the Lords occupy.

Directly across the Thames from Westminster is St Thomas' Hospital, London's largest. Beyond sits the London Eye. Now 12 years old, it has carried over 30 million passengers.

The Palace of Westminster, viewed from Lambeth Bridge. All the parts of the building visible in this photograph date from 1840-1870, designed by architect Charles Barry.

Monday, 2 January 2012

David Hockney OM

“He was the 1960s radical who turned British painting on its head, but on Sunday the Queen sealed David Hockney's transformation into national treasure by appointing him to the Order of Merit. Buckingham Palace announced that the 74-year-old Bradford-born painter and photographer would join the select group of individuals who have achieved distinction in the arts, learning, science and public service.” That is Robert Booth, writing in the Guardian yesterday.

It is generous of HMQ to make this award: only recently Hockney declined a request to paint a portrait of her, saying he was too busy!

The Royal Academy has a major exhibition of new landscape works by Hockney, opening in three weeks time and running to April: David Hockney: A Bigger Picture. And they are big: I saw one of these works of east Yorkshire in exhibition at Tate Britain two years ago – it measured 40 feet by 15 feet and took up a whole wall.

The forthcoming Royal Academy exhibition will include a display of his iPad drawings and a series of new films produced using 18 cameras, which will be displayed on multiple screens.

You can see a short video of David Hockney, engaging and warm as always, talking about this exhibition, here.