Sunday, June 24th 2012
Today was a somewhat low-key event, though this was perhaps as well after our trip to Eastbourne yesterday. As a result there were few opportunities for taking photographs.
The first thing we needed to do was the week’s shopping, so off we went to Sainsbury’s, passing along White Conduit Street.
There was a white van parked in this street and a flock of pigeons had settled on its roof. Why? I have no idea unless the sun had heated the metal and they were attracted to the warmth. They were just perched there, looking around, as though waiting for something or someone.
I have noticed this about pigeons, that they sometimes act as a flock and sometimes as individuals. This group seemed to be acting together. Perhaps they were waiting for someone to feed them. In any neighbourhood there is usually someone who takes it upon himself or herself to feed the local pigeon population even where this is prohibited by the bye-laws.
After putting away the shopping we went for breakfast though by now it was nearer lunchtime than breakfast time. We went to Cafe Renoir in Kentish Town. The sun was shining but the sky was dark as though it might rain or call up a storm, making for a picturesque contrast.
After brunch, we caught a bus up Finchley Road to the Camden Arts Centre. We were supposed to meet someone here but he failed to appear. This meant that we waited around pointlessly for quite some time before deciding to look at the exhibitions and then return home. The main exhibitions were by Zoe Leonard, comprising three sections. Firstly, there were photos taken pointing the camera directly at the sun. This was supposed to prove something or other but as the difference between these and simple failed photos wasn’t obvious to me, I didn’t bother finding out what. Secondly, there was a table with heaps of old postcards which were views of, I think, the Niagara Falls. Interesting? Um, no.
There were few people in the galleries and in fact we were mostly alone. This produced a strange, if irritating, result. Wherever we went, a few seconds later, a curator appeared at the door. Did she think we were vandals? Or thieves? That we might pocket the post cards or set them on fire? Or maybe she was afraid we would commit the cardinal sin and take a photo.
Then there was the third exhibition. This one I liked. One of the larger exhibition rooms had been transformed into a camera obscura by placing a lens in a window. This projected the scene is the street below onto the wall, but upside down. The lens must have been about 10 inches wide but in a room that size this was a mere pinhole like that in the famous pinhole camera. The image was therefore correspondingly dim and slightly out of focus in some areas, a view through a glass darkly, but fascinating nonetheless.
We went back to waiting and sat in the cafe. As I was becoming restless, Tigger suggested I go into the garden to take some photos. I had a look at the garden and was about to go back into the building when I saw a mirror among the foliage. It looked like a rear view mirror from a motor cycle or scooter and it was set into a log. It was obviously a deliberate construction. The obvious question was whether there were more.
Peering between the branches, I got a glimpse of more mirrors. Why would anyone take the trouble to set up mirrors hidden away in the undergrowth? I looked around for an explanation but there seemed to be none. The other people in the garden had either not noticed the mirrors or had not found them interesting.
I walked down the slope of the lawn and discovered a narrow path, trodden by feet, going into the bushes. Another mirror beckoned me on. So I pushed on through the branches.
Further along, on the left, was another log and on it, a mirror lying on its back. This was beginning to remind me of playing tracking in the Boy Scouts but with mirrors instead bent twigs.
Here was the stand of mirrors I had glimpsed earlier. Was this the main event?
This mirror stand, or mirror tree, looking like something out of the film Quadrophenia, seemed to be the focus of the installation because when, having failed to resist the temptation to make a self-portrait out of it (third mirror from the top on the left), I took another couple of steps, it was to burst out from the bushes onto the lawn. What people there thought I had been doing in there, I preferred not to enquire!
I still do not know who made the installation or anything about it, but it was one of the more intriguing exhibits at the Arts Centre. A pity they are not all as interesting…
As the Finchley Road & Frognal Overground station was only a few yards down the road, we decided to take the London Overground instead of the bus for a change. The nearest station to us is Highbury & Islington and from there we took a bus the rest of the way. The bus stop was near the Union Chapel pictured below.