Walking on water

Monday, February 5th 2018

I mentioned in a previous post (see Five evening photos) that I pass through St Katharine Docks on my way to meet Tigger from work. I did so again today. I always look to see what the waterfowl are getting up to and something that I saw amused me, so I took a photo.

Coots preening
Coots preening

Under the projecting stern of one of the moored boats were a couple of coots, a pair, preening. There’s nothing unusual about the, of course, but what amused me was that the coots appeared to be standing on the water!

I have seen this phenomenon several times before but it was only today that I braved getting my hands cold to take a photo with my iPhone. The photo is a distance shot ‘enlarged’ by cropping and that, combined with the low-light conditions,  means that the picture is not very sharp1 but it’s clear enough to see what seems to be a couple birds standing on water.

Of course, they are not really standing on the water. What they discovered (and I discovered from observing them) is that under the boat’s stern is a rudder. It has a flat top that remains just below the surface. The coots find this a very convenient perch for preening and are often to be found doing just that.

With the ducks, the coots and, occasionally, the cormorants, there is usually plenty of activity to watch on the water but, as far as I know, these two coots are the only birds to use this boat’s rudder as a preening perch.

________

1In fact, I think it looks rather like an Impressionist oil painting!

Copyright 2018 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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A round-trip bus ride with some art

Saturday, February 3rd 2018

The cold weather has made us somewhat sluggish and unwilling to tramp the streets. As an alternative we fell back on that old stand-by, the bus ride. Though we grumble about it when it goes wrong, London’s public transport network is pretty good. For rapid travel between two points, choose the Underground, the Overground or National Rail, which serves many stations within the Greater London area. For more interesting routes and a slower speed that enables you to see and appreciate them, take the bus. We took several, and completed a circular tour, as shown on the map below. (I have eclipsed the area  where we live for reasons of privacy.)

Riding the bus
Riding the bus

The little camera icons will tell you that we did stop somewhere and as this somewhere is labelled ‘Saatchi Gallery’ you will know exactly where we stopped.

The Saatchi Gallery bears visiting regularly. It is large enough to accommodate several reasonably sized exhibitions at once, so there is usually plenty of variety. The emphasis is on contemporary art and lesser known artists. I have written about our many visits – just type Saatchi into the search box to be presented with posts on the topic.

Today, we were a little disappointed as there didn’t seem to be much that was different from our last visit and what there was didn’t particularly thrill either of us. The result was that I took a few photos without any particular rhyme or reason. I show these below.

General gallery view
General gallery view

How do you explore an art gallery? We usually take the lift to the top floor and work our way down. That at least covers all the angles, so to speak. Something that impresses me about the Saatchi is how popular it is. Contemporary art is considered ‘difficult’ by many people and so it is encouraging to see so many visitors, including families with young children, taking time to view (and photograph) the exhibits.

Large gallery
Large gallery

I don’t know the official name of this room so I call it the large gallery. It has an entrance at floor level and also a balcony from which this scan shot was taken. This makes it a very flexible space and it has been used for many different purposes as, for example, when it was filled with engine oil for Richard Wilson’s 20:50. On another occasion it temporarily became the gallery shop.

Seen from above

Seen from above
Seen from above

One doesn’t often get a chance to see artworks from above and so this was a welcome opportunity. It was also fascinating to see the people as they viewed the exhibits, walking around them, stepping back and forth, photographing them and collectively engaging in a sort of impromptu ballet.

These works are part of an exhibition entitled Iconoclasts: Art out of the Mainstream. Here are some ground-level views:

Echoes of the Kill

Echoes of the Kill
Echoes of the Kill
Alexi Williams Wynn, 2015

See also Alexi Williams Wynn’s biography and selected works.

Corvid
Corvid
Kate MCCGwire, 2011

See also Kate MccGwire’s biography and selected works.

New Skin for an Old Ceremony
New Skin for an Old Ceremony
Douglas White, 2011

See more on Dougles White here.

I am usually sparing of photos of paintings. It feels a bit like shooting fish in a barrel but it can be surprisingly difficult to get the photo right: you only have to be a little off-centre or to tilt the camera and the picture appears distorted in your photo. Even if you succeed, so what? There will probably be lots of better photos of the painting on the gallery Website and elsewhere. Photographing sculptures is different: you can often walk around them and photograph them from different angles, making your own personal selection of views and giving the work the particular character that goes with that selection. In some ways it’s even more difficult than photographing paintings but it’s also more fun!

Anyway, here is a photo of a painting. Just the one. It too is part of the Iconoclasts exhibition.

Tough Love
Tough Love
Aaron Fowler, 2013

A special feature of this painting that may not be obvious at first glance is that the chair at bottom left is an actual chair (or lifesize model of one) affixed to the canvas, so we have a meeting of painting and sculpture or a three-dimensional painting, however you want to categorize it. This mixing of genres in art seem to be increasingly popular. See more on Aaron Fowler here.

Having fed the aesthetic hunger, we set about feeding the physical body. We finally settled for a branch of PizzaExpress, which, if neither too original or exciting at least provides amenable service and a reliable standard of food. Then we took a bus once more, this time for home.

Copyright 2018 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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Five evening photos

Saturday, January 31st 2018

This evening, as on most weekdays, I went to meet Tigger from work. I take the tube to Tower Hill, pass in front of the Tower of London and then walk through St Katharine Docks. You can locate these three places on the map below and click on it to see the corresponding Bing Map.

Tower Hill and St Katharine Docks
Tower Hill and St Katharine Docks

I had decided to take a small number of photos with my iPhone just to test the accuracy of the latter’s geolocation. If you have the phone’s GPS switched on, the camera inserts the longitude and latitude of your position into the photo’s EXIF file. You can then see these positions on the map using an appropriate mapping application such as Geosetter. It turns out that the iPhone’s locations are pretty accurate.

Photos mapped by Geosetter
Photos mapped by Geosetter

As I say, these photos were taken for a specific purpose, not for their beauty or interest but I will show them to you, anyway. It was about 5pm when I took them and the light was beginning to fade, producing areas of deep shadow so I have edited them a bit to bring out details that would otherwise be invisible.

Trinity House from Trinity Square Gardens
Trinity House from Trinity Square Gardens

From the station, I stepped into Trinity Square Gardens and took this photo of Trinity House. Quoting from their Website, ‘Trinity House is a charity dedicated to safeguarding shipping and seafarers, providing education, support and welfare to the seafaring community with a statutory duty as a General Lighthouse Authority to deliver a reliable, efficient and cost-effective aids to navigation service for the benefit and safety of all mariners’.

Update: It seems that I mis-identified the above building. For a correction, see the comment by jloisa below.

The Tower of London
The Tower of London

I crossed the road and poked my iPhone over the tall railings to photograph part of the Tower of London, possibly the most famous, or notorious, royal palace, fortress, prison and place of execution in the world. Despite the horrors perpetrated there – or perhaps because of them – the Tower is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions.

If you wonder why the grass in front of the walls looks so horrible it is because events are frequently held here which involve erecting temporary buildings. These kill the grass and the area is later recovered with fresh turf. I can’t help wondering who ultimately pays for these wasteful exercises.

The Ivory House
The Ivory House

I cross a busy intersection and enter St Katharine Docks. This is now a peaceful area with three basins that provide moorings for yachts though it was once a busy dock receiving imports from far away lands. The building shown above is the only remaining original warehouse. It goes by the picturesque but gruesome name of The Ivory House. The two model elephants on the nearby road gate leave no doubt as to the origin of the name. How many elephants were slaughtered so that merchants could grow rich in the ivory trade? Today the Ivory House accommodates a restaurant and bar.

Yachts moored in the East Dock
Yachts moored in the East Dock

The East Dock (I am not sure whether that is its official name) is the quietest because there are no shops or restaurants here. The dock is lined with apartment blocks. It is home to coots, pin-eye ducks and fish. I have occasionally seen very large  fish swimming near the surface. Because of the presence of fish, cormorants also visit the dock but for some reason I now see them less often than before. Yachts occasionally leave or arrive but the population seems largely permanent or, at least, long-term.

Looking along the dock from the eastern end
Looking along the dock from the eastern end

From here, I go to the office block where Tigger works and read a book until she appears. That moment is the highlight of my day!

Copyright 2018 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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