Some Shoreditch street art

Friday, July 31st 2015

Tigger had noticed some new street art in Shoreditch as she went by in the bus on the way to work. So, this evening, on our way home, we decided to leave the bus in Shoreditch and take a look – and perhaps some photos – of the street art.

There is a lot of building work going on in the area and there is a large number of sites closed off with wooden fences. Street artists have obviously been busy and all the fencing is covered with paintings. I suspect that in many cases, these fence paintings have been commissioned and as a result, instead of the usual acres of boring black or grey, we have bright colours and lively designs – definitely an improvement in my view.

On the other hand, though the paintings were expertly done, I was disappointed with the results. Much of the pieces were abstract or lettering. I got the impression that the work had been done in a hurry without the artists having time to think up themes or subjects. Here and there, a better painting emerged from the mass but in many cases, these were paintings that had been done some time ago, apparently in response to artistic urging and not just in order to cover another acre of bare board.

I have chosen a few items from the works I photographed and post the pictures below. You should not think I particularly like any of these or chose them as being ‘the best’. Rather, they are the ones that, to my mind, produced viable photos. Anyway, see that you think and form your own opinion. Not all the paintings I photographed were on building site fences. Four come from from walls, a boarded-up window and a door. Some paintings have been partially overlaid or have been ‘tagged’ with graffiti.

Our decision to take a look was impromptu and I didn’t think to switch on my geotagger, so I cannot say exactly where I found the individual paintings. Nor have I taken time, as I usually do, to work out the names of the artists. Some of the paintings may be signed if you look closely but most are not. I have not added captions or any comments of my own except briefly at the end.

 

Street painting, Shoreditch

Street painting, Shoreditch

Street painting, Shoreditch

Street painting, Shoreditch

Street painting, Shoreditch

Street painting, Shoreditch

Street painting, Shoreditch

Street painting, Shoreditch

Street painting, Shoreditch

Street painting, Shoreditch

Street painting, Shoreditch

Street painting, Shoreditch

Street painting, Shoreditch

In the last picture, lovers of silent films will recognize Charlie Chaplin as he appeared in a film poster for The Adventurer – for example, see here. That and the reworking of Van Gogh’s self-portrait (sixth picture down) are examples of street artists ‘quoting’ existing works. Rather than plagiarism, we might call this paying tribute to admired artists of the past.

Copyright © 2015 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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Serpentine Pavilion 2015

Saturday, July 25th 2015

We thought we would take a look at this year’s episode of what has become an annual event in London. You might regard it as an art event, as it is sponsored by an art gallery, or you might consider it an exhibition of architecture by a single contributor, given that it is a building designed by architects. Perhaps we might see it as art and architecture combined.

Alexandra Lodge, Hyde Park
Alexandra Lodge, Hyde Park

We took a bus to Kensington Road and entered Hyde Park by the Alexandra Gate. Beside the gate is a small building set in a well tended garden. It was built some time in the early to mid 19th century and served the purpose of the gate lodge. Did a uniformed servant once stay here, supervising the coming and goings through the gate? If so, that is no longer the case. I don’t know what purpose the Grade II listed building serves today, perhaps just that of a glorified garden shed. Would it be possible to live here? Probably not, but the thought is intriguing.

Bumblebee
Bumblebee

The lodge is surrounded by beautiful flowers and where there are flowers, what do you also find? Well, yes, various species of insects but, with any luck, bees. The decline in the bee population is a cause for concern so the sight of a number of bumblebees busily collecting pollen was reassuring. We spent some time trying to photograph them. This is difficult because they flit about so fast, in and out, under and behind the flowers, that it is nearly impossible to capture their image.

Bumblebees are favourites of mine. Once, when I was a child, I found myself wondering what their fur felt like. So I stretched out a finger and stroked a bumblebee. The bee didn’t seem to mind but ignored me and went on working. I still stroke the occasional bumblebee if it stays still long enough.

The Albert Memorial
The Albert Memorial

What from the air looks like a roughly rectangular park is actually two parks, divided by the road called West Carriage Drive which runs from Alexandra Gate in the south and crosses the Serpentine lake by a bridge. On the right (east) of this road is Hyde Park and on the left, Kensington Gardens. The lake runs across both parks and is usually known as the Serpentine (even if its gentle curves hardly merit that name) though, in fact, it is only the Serpentine on the east side of the bridge, becoming the Long Water on the west side. I mention this because the art gallery in Kensington Gardens is called the Serpentine Gallery when, strictly speaking, it’s on the wrong side to be called that!

From the road, you get a slightly distant view of the Albert Memorial, the symbol of a Queen’s grief at the loss of her beloved consort. Depending on your taste, you will find the monument either splendid or over-elaborate. I admire it and consider it one of London’s treasures.

First view of the Pavilion
First view of the Pavilion

Continuing along the road, we gained our first view of what we had come to see. It appeared as a colourful giant sausage or perhaps a collection of inflated gaudily coloured plastic bags.

Serpentine Pavilion 2015
Serpentine Pavilion 2015

Coming closer, more details are visible but it is hard to discern a coherent plan. The structure looks like a collection of separate bits, each with its own quirky design. It is certain colourful, much of the skin being made out of iridescent plastic that changes hue bewilderingly as you look at it. An important feature of this is the way the colours shift and change, something that a photograph cannot adequately show. It turns out that the parts are all connected and you can walk through from one end to the other. The interior is divided into sections, which are quasi rooms or halls, and there is seating and a cafe.

As mentioned, there is a pavilion every year and this is the 15th in the series. The pavilions are designed by leading architects and built under the auspices of the Serpentine Gallery. The architects chosen for the project have a limited time in which to design and erect their creation. A succinct description of the project as a whole and of this pavilion appears on a board beside it. This gives you a good introduction to the subject and I reproduce it pictorially here.

Below, without captions, are more pictures of the pavilion, inside and out.

Serpentine Pavilion 2015
Serpentine Pavilion 2015
Serpentine Pavilion 2015
Serpentine Pavilion 2015
Serpentine Pavilion 2015
Serpentine Pavilion 2015
Serpentine Pavilion 2015
Serpentine Pavilion 2015

As a novelty or an experiment in design, I found the pavilion ‘interesting’. I cannot imagine buildings of this sort finding a permanent place in our environment. The architects possibly perceived some design in it but I did not. It looked like a lot of separate bits individually thrown together with a ‘Right where shall we put this one?’ If the London Underground really was an inspiration for this, then I think the design of the Underground, labyrinthine as it is in places, gives one a more purposeful sense than this structure does. A fun venue for a summer party, perhaps, but not much more than that.

A view of Kensington Gardens
A view of Kensington Gardens

We took a last look around at the park and then started back the way we had come.

Exhibition Road
Exhibition Road

Opposite Alexandra Gate is Exhibition Road. This takes us, as the name suggests, into the museum quarter. Here we have the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, various institutes and, for good measure, the Royal Albert Hall.

Controversially, Exhibition Road is one of a new breed of roads called ‘Shared Space’, invented by some genius who thinks that motor vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians can all use the same surface without conflict or accident. They will no doubt go on thinking that until the number of fatal collisions causes a rethink.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Slotted awkwardly into a quarter in which academic and intellectual prowess is celebrated, we find the South Kensington representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known more familiarly as the Mormons. It seems quite out of place here somehow.

Thurloe Place Mews
Thurloe Place Mews

My last photo was of this charming street called Thurloe Place Mews. It seems a very pleasant and picturesque place to live, right in the heart of London.

Copyright © 2015 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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Sculpture in the City 2015

Sunday, July 19th 2015

For the fifth year running, we can this month enjoy a much anticipated exhibition of sculpture in which the streets of the City of London serve as the gallery.  Admission is therefore free! Sculpture in the City 2015 presents 14 works by contemporary sculptors and all are now in place except one: Ai Weiwei’s Forever will be installed only in September in an event intended to coincide with his September exhibition at the Royal Academy of London.

If you live in London or within easy travelling distance, I encourage you to grab the free sculpture map and chase down the sculptures for yourself. If you are unable to do that, I present the 13 extant sculptures below so that you can get some idea of them. I hope to add Ai Weiwei’s sculpture when it at last appears.

I have taken several photos of each sculpture and combined these into a GIF slideshow, so click on each static image to see the whole set. As with all art, but particularly with modern and contemporary art, it is helpful to have some notes of guidance on what you are looking at. As I am no art expert, I will spare you are own maunderings on the works and reproduce the notes  supplied by the City of London on its page entitled About the Artwork and Artists. I have put these commentaries in italics to remind readers that they are copied text.

Altar
1. Altar
Kris Martin

Kris Martin’s Altar is a metal replica of the multi-panelled, fifteenth-century Ghent Altarpiece by Hubert and Jan Van Eyck. Also known as the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, the work was seminal to the development of North Renaissance painting and the landscape genre, and is still visited by countless people each day in the Cathedral of Saint Bavo in Ghent, where it is located. The artist re-presents this famous work with a twist, however: he has reproduced only the frame, leaving it bereft of its twelve folding panels. Rather than marvelling at the sumptuously painted religious scene, in which flora, fauna, and figures are depicted with astonishing accuracy and jewel-like colours, we are invited to look through an open structure to the real world beyond. In this way, Martin asks us to re-focus our attention on the cityscape we know so well, and to forge a new sense of curiosity, devotion and wonder from this humdrum, everyday view.

Bells
2. Bells
Kris Martin

Kris Martin’s work often consists of a presentation of found objects that have been altered or repositioned through minimal means. In Bells II, Martin conjoins two ornate church bells at the mouth, locking them into a symbolic kiss that carries with it the notion of silence, as sound can no longer escape from the hermetically sealed fusion.
The artist’s fascination lies in the way such small rearrangements can dramatically alter how we see the world around us, and understand our place within it.

Days of Judgement - Cats 1 & 2
3. Days of Judgement – Cats 1 & 2
Laura Ford

Laura Ford is well-known for her portrayals of animals, with which she explores aspects of the human condition. Her bronze sculptures presented here are from a recent series called ‘Days of Judgement’, for which her starting point was Masaccio’s fresco ‘The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden’ (1425) in the Brancacci Chapel, Florence. In Ford’s postlapsarian vision, however, Adam and Eve are reconfigured as a group of very tall, skinny cats. Pacing around in various states of deep thought, these cats appear like existential poets gripped by their own inner anxieties; with their featureless faces they have an uncanny blankness onto which we can project our own fears and concerns.

Ghost
4. Ghost
Adam Chodzko

Adam Chodzko’s, Ghost, is a kayak, a sculpture as vessel, a coffin, a costume and a camera rig. He designed the kayak, to have a paddler in the back and a passenger – a member of the public – in the front. The guest is reclined, stretched out like a body in a coffin, with their head slightly raised. Through each journey for Ghost, the artist and the passenger are on a metaphorical and mythological journey to the Island of the Dead. A camera, mounted on the bows records the journey of each passenger, thus creating an archive of their experience.
Since 2010, Ghost has travelled along the River Medway, Kent, the River Tamar, Devon, through The Olympic Park, London, and along the Tyne, Newcastle. In each location members of the public were ferried along these stretches of water.
In ‘Ghost Archive’ (2015), two journeys were made, both from Bankside to Deadman’s Hole. The first passenger was Karina Isajeva, a caterer at Hiscox, the second was Robert Hiscox, Honorary President of Hiscox. Although these two journeys were consecutive and took place over less than two hours, Ghost Archive replays them as fragmented sequences.

Old DNA
5. Old DNA
Folkert de Jong

Dutch artist Folkert de Jong is internationally recognized for figurative sculptures that mine issues of empire, trauma and myth. Originating in a 3D scan of a suit of armour belonging to the aging Henry VIII, Old DNA (2014) is a psychological portrait of power and the way it can endure and decay. As a public monument, it occupies a peculiar factual space: “the scene De Jong creates does not feel like an official history,” writes curator Sam Lackey of the Hepworth Wakefield museum, “but rather a hidden or unseen moment—an uncovered conspiracy from the past.”

Rays (London)
6. Rays (London)
Xavier Veilhan

This piece is part of Xavier Veilhan’s ongoing “Rays” series. Designed for the Willis Plaza, the artwork frames and questions the views of the City opened up by recent construction activity. The artist has been working since 2011 on this series formulated as a tribute to Jesús Rafael Soto and Fred Sandback. Dealing with the possibilities of representation and the question of display —two important issues in his practice— these works create immersive and optical environments that play with scale, light, shadow and architecture. They have been presented in numerous institutions and public spaces, including Le Corbusier’s “MAMO – Cité Radieuse” in Marseille, the Sheats-Goldstein Residence in Los Angeles (USA), Hatfield House (UK), La Conservera in Murcia (Spain), and Mori Art Museum in Tokyo (Japan).

'O my friends, there are no friends'
7. ‘O my friends, there are no friends’
Sigalit Landau

With ‘O my friends, there are no friends’ (2011), Sigalit Landau challenges the concept of monumental sculpture choosing a traditional material such as bronze to celebrate the future.
The pedestal on which the sculpture stand represents an anti-monument; real laces, soft and vulnerable, link together the pairs of bronze shoes. As Landau states, the work is “a commemoration of the future, when we will be able to slip into these shoes and be part of a community that will create a better history, with more solidarity, more generosity and regeneration”. This work was first shown in the Israeli pavilion at the 54° Venice Biennale in 2011. This will be the inaugural presentation of this work in the U.K.

Red Atlas
8. Red Atlas
Ekkehard Altenburger

RED ATLAS is part of the on-going sculptural series ATLAS that deals with the subject of balance. RED ATLAS investigates our physical position in relation to the surrounding architecture.
In previous works, Altenbuger has used the appearance of architecture – a fallen arch or tipped plinth – for RED ATLAS he has stripped away the representational and made a sleek simple form from heavy architectural material. The sculpture leans gently on the wall, held firm by it’s shear weight; exploring the balance between object, architecture and ourselves, using this interplay to question the perception of our physical presence in an urban space.

Carson, Emma, Takashi, Zezi, Nia
9. Carson, Emma, Takashi, Zezi, Nia
Tomoaki Suzuki

Japanese artist Tomoaki Suzuki’s diminutive sculptures put a decidedly contemporary twist on the millennia-long tradition of Japanese woodcarving. Drawing on his life in London, Suzuki creates painstakingly detailed portraits of diverse urban youths at one-third their actual size. The five sculptures on view demonstrate a shift in the artist’s practice—they are his first works to be executed in bronze.
Suzuki maintains that by working in small scale he is able to focus his attention on the figures in a way that would not be possible on a larger scale. Plus, because of their size, the figures physically draw the viewer in and down to their level, and yet in spite of their size, the sculptures have a powerful presence.

Organisms of Control #8
10. Organisms of Control #8
Keita Miyazaki

After witnessing the 2011 tragedy, Keita Miyazaki felt the need to create a new ‘utopian’ vision out of the ashes of the ‘dystopia’ in Japan: artworks created out of the rubble; sculptures pointing forward to a new beginning.
Miyazaki marries traditional Japanese techniques with parts of old car engines to create a completely new visual universe. The particularity of his sculptures is increased by sound, which emanates strategically from various points. The jingles heard are original compositions inspired by music played in Japanese supermarkets; sounds of Tokyo and London; to the tunes played in the Tokyo public transport system. Miyazaki’s wish is to create a geographical connection between London and Japan.

Charity
12. Charity
Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst was born in 1965 in Bristol and was brought up in Leeds. Since the late 1980s, he has used a varied practice of installation, sculpture, painting and drawing to investigate the complexities of the human condition and the polarities of life and death. Hirst won the Turner Prize in 1995.
Charity (2002-2003) is a 22-foot bronze sculpture based on The Spastics Society’s (now Scope) charity collection box, which was commonly found outside local chemists and shops in the 1960s and 1970s. Aggrandised through scale and material, Hirst’s version has been vandalised and her contents emptied, a number of remaining coins lie on the ground next to a crow bar. Monumental yet vulnerable, the work plays on the art historical tradition of depicting the Virtue of Charity as a single female figure. The sculpture was originally installed in the park outside White Cube Hoxton Square London, as part of Romance in the Age of Uncertainty, Hirst’s solo exhibition at the gallery in 2003.

Breakout II
13. Breakout II
Bruce Beasley

Bruce Beasley’s intersecting cuboid forms are reminiscent of natural crystalline structures, with sumptuous patinas adding to their organic essence. Perhaps surprisingly, Beasley’s sculptures originate in digital three-dimensional design software, which allows him to devise his forms without the constraints of gravity; the shapes are later cast into solid bronze. Beasley’s impressive arch Breakout II epitomises the sculptor’s talent to balance the tension between precision engineering and organic form.
Today Beasley is recognized as one of the most noteworthy and innovative sculptors on the American West Coast. His monumental work has been exhibited worldwide including at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 1995 and a major retrospective at the Oakland Museum of California in 2005.

Broken Pillar #12
14. Broken Pillar #12
Shan Hur

Site-specific installation Broken Pillar #12, is part of a body of work developed over the last five years, by Shan Hur. As part of the artist’s practice, Hur incorporates found objects, usually relevant to its location within these structures, encouraging the viewer to question the world around them and the objects hidden within it. Adapted to its surroundings at St Helen’s Churchyard, Broken Pillar #12 is a unique interpretation from the series, unveiled for the occasion. Hur’s previous public placements include ‘Berkeley’s tree’ – the façade of Berkeley Square House, London, UK and ‘A New Column for Manchester’ with the Arts Council of England – Manchester, UK, 2014.

Copyright © 2015 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Art and Culture | Tagged | 2 Comments

Broadstairs with gulls

Saturday, July 18th 2015

On a fine warm, sunny day, a pleasant place to go to is Broadstairs in Kent, a quiet but pretty seaside resort in the ancient kingdom of Kent.

Broadstairs on the map
Broadstairs on the map
Click for Google Map

We caught the HS1 at St Pancras and were transported comfortably and speedily to our destination.

Crampton Tower
Crampton Tower

From the station platform, one has a good view of the robust and, I think, handsome Crampton Tower. You might be forgiven for thinking at first sight that this was the restored tower of an ancient castle but the name plate undeceives you because it bears the date 1859. Now the home of Crampton Tower Museum, the structure was originally built as a water tower, part of the town’s water supply. Its historical and architectural interest has earned it a Grade II listing.

Steep stairs to leave the station
Steep stairs to leave the station

We left the station by a steep flight of steps – not good if you suffer from vertigo! (If you do, there are more comfortable routes to the exit.)

Pierremont Hall
Pierremont Hall
Princess Victoria stayed here

This stately mansion is today used by the town council but was once a private house. It was built in 1782 or 1785 and the young queen-to-be, Princess Victoria came here on holiday in 1826.

The gardens, Pierremont Hall
The gardens, Pierremont Hall

The gardens of the house, where the Princess perhaps strolled in privacy, is now open to the public and provides a cool and pleasant spot in which to linger on a hot day.

The Royal Albion Hotel
The Royal Albion Hotel
Dickens stayed here

Near the seafront stands the large but fairly elegant Albion Hotel. It dates from the early 19th century and still pursues its trade as a hostelry. A plaque on the front states that ‘Dickens lived here’ but English Heritage in its listing (the hotel received a Grade II) offers a slightly more parsimonious story: ‘Charles Dickens stayed here in 1839, 1840, 1845, 1849 and 1859 and wrote part of Nicholas Nickleby here.’ I do not know whether the hotel had any Royal connections to merit the ‘Royal’ designation.

Viking Bay
Viking Bay
Broadstairs’s popular beach

Broadstairs possesses a beautiful crescent-shaped sandy beach which is justly famous and popular. It was originally named Main Bay but was renamed as explained by the the official information panel:

In 449 AD Hengist landed in Thanet, and this early landing was commemorated in 1949 by a re-enactment in which Danes rowed a replica Viking Ship across the North Sea landing at Main Bay in Broadstairs [renamed Viking Bay from this date onwards].

Hengist and Horsa were Saxon mercenaries serving Vortigern, a leader of the Britons, but are credited with later spearheading the Saxon invasion of Britain.

A view from the Promenade
A view from the Promenade

The Promenade is a pleasant walk poised high above the beach. It was originally built to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. It provides a birds’ eye view of the beach and vistas of the sea, placid today under a warm sun.

Beach entertainments, Viking Bay
Beach entertainments, Viking Bay

Compared with Brighton or Southend, Broadstairs is quiet, even staid, but I think it is this atmosphere of an ‘old-fashioned’ seaside resort that so many people appreciate and enjoy. At the southern end of the beach you find some entertainments and rides for the children but they are of the gentler sort and neatly ranged in their own corner.

Walking on water
Walking on water

Looking at the sea, you may be startled to see, among the bathers and paddlers, people apparently walking on the water! The explanation for this seemingly miraculous behaviour is that there is a paddling pool on the beach built (1988) to retain water when the tide goes out. The water-walkers are promenading around its retaining walls. Later, when the sea level drops and reveals the pool, the mystery will vanish.

Flying herring gull Flying herring gull
Flying herring gull Flying herring gull
Flying herring gulls

The up-draught from the beach to the promenade makes ideal conditions for the gulls to ‘surf’ the air currents. Here they engage in ‘social flying’ and swoop at speed along the promenade just to the seaward side of the hand rail. It is entertaining to watch these magnificent flyers and fun to try to photograph them. It’s not easy and the best photos are usually those you achieve by luck or accident! I do not make any apology for my interest in these fascinating birds.

These are herring gulls, with white, black, grey and light blue plumage. In many places, you also find lesser black-backed gulls, either mixed in with the herring gulls or in sole possession of the territory. Unusually, there seem to be no lesser black-backs here, only herring gulls.

Classic car exhibition
Classic car exhibition

This week, Broadstairs celebrates its annual Dickens Festival. The only evidence we saw of this was a gentleman in Victorian costume walking along the Promenade and a lady also in Victorian costume running the first aid tent at the summer fair. Here too we saw an exhibition of Classic Cars. Drawn up in two rows, they were attracting a lot of attention, making it hard to take clear photos. It goes without saying that all the vehicles were beautifully maintained and polished so that they sparkled in the sunlight.

1939 Triumph Dolomite
1939 Triumph Dolomite

I have to admit that my knowledge of cars could be written on a postage stamp and still leave room for a shopping list. Makes, models and specifications go right over my head but I do at least know what I like the look of. If I could have taken one of the cars home with me, I think it would have been this one. Sporty, yes, but elegant and comfortable as well. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

Penfold Pillar Box
Penfold Pillar Box

We turned back towards the town centre again and in Chandos Square photographed this Victorian pillar box. It is made to the hexagonal design of surveyor and architect John Wornham Penfold (1828 –1909). Boxes like this were made from 1866 to 1879 and would at first have been painted green. It was only in 1874, after complaints that posting boxes were hard to spot, that the now traditional red colour was tried and then adopted. Penfold boxes were so liked and admired (despite the fact that some models could trap the letter and prevent it falling into the collecting basket) that replicas were made and can still be found. However, I have no reason to suspect that this one is not an original.

Dickens House
Dickens House
Dickens did not live here

Charles Dickens is one of those figures that enjoy such esteem in the popular mind (whether or not that popular mind has actually read any Dickens) that there must be few towns in Britain that do not claim some connection with the author of Great Expectations. Buildings in which Dickens is said to have lived and written, if only for five minutes, abound. Thus, seeing this pretty cottage, just a step or two from the Promenade, labelled Dickens House, you might conclude that it is yet another dwelling of the novelist. If so, you would be wrong. As far as is known, Dickens never actually lived here though he was certainly acquainted with the property and its inhabitant.

What is now the Dickens House Museum was in Dickens’s day the home of Miss Mary Pearson Strong. Dickens and his son Charley visited her on several occasions and were served tea and cakes. Dickens later used Miss Pearson Strong and her house as models for Betsy Trotwood and her cottage in David Copperfield, though he changes their location to Dover. The connection with Dickens was known quite early as it seems that the house had already been named Dickens House before the and of the 19th century (Dickens lived from 1812 to 1870).

The Palace Cinema
The Palace Cinema

We followed Harbour Street which slopes steeply down to the beach. This may give a clue to the name of the town. It is known that this was originally called Bradstowe, from an Anglo-Saxon name meaning ‘broad place’. In the town was the Chapel of St Mary from which a set of steps led down to the beach. It is thought that the name of the town together with the steps gave rise to the present name of Broadstairs.

In the picture you see that charming little flint-faced building that is known as the Palace Cinema (currently offering Marvel’s Ant-Man). Built in 1911, it started as a museum of armour under the name of the York Gate Hall after the nearby defensive arch of that name (see Margate for art and Broadstairs for ice cream). It became a puppet theatre for some years (details uncertain) and in 1965 was converted into the Windsor Cinema. It is a Grade II listed building.

The Old Lifeboat Station
The Old Lifeboat Station

This delightfully ramshackle-looking building positioned beside the sea is the old lifeboat station. The lifeboat operated from here between 1868 and 1912 when it was discontinued and Broadstairs’s needs were then supplied by the Ramsgate lifeboat. I don’t know when the station was built or what modifications may have been practised on it in its life time but it seems ancient enough to date from the mid-19th century and has been kept in good repair. There is still an RNLI shop inside.

The Scotsman
The Scotsman

This is one of the two figureheads that decorate the building. The inscription tells us that ‘The Scotsman was recovered from the 854 ton barge “Highland Chief” lost off the Goodwin Sands in February 1869’. He is a doughty-looking fellow and has been well looked after.

Hercules and the Lion
Hercules and the Lion

Here we learn that ‘Hercules was salvaged from a Spanish brig of that name which came ashore on the 16th of January 1844. The “Rib Bones” above the figure head came from a 70 ton whale washed up at Broadstairs on the 2nd of February 1762. Gratefully restored by the students of Thanet College 2010’.

Hopeful gull Adult herring gull
Gull on a car roof Juvenile gull
More gulls

Here are some more gull pictures. (Again, no apologies.) Top left shows a gentleman who came and sat on a bench to eat a sandwich. He was immediately spotted by the gull who tried to stare him out between pacing impatiently up and down. Alas for the gull, the sandwich eater was not in a sharing mood! As I have noted before, gulls seem to like to perch on the roofs of cars. The one at the bottom left was sufficiently relaxed to settle down and contemplate the changing scene around him (or her). The juveniles of all gull specifies wear a similar brown and white costume which makes it difficult to identify their species. This one is certainly a herring gull and is already fully grown and able to fend for himself. Sadly, in a seaside resort with plenty of trippers, fending for themselves means mainly begging or stealing food from humans.

Playful Sea
Playful sea

Today the sea was calm and though it dashed some waves to foam and spray against the pier, it seemed to do so playfully. I can imagine, though, that when the wind is strong and conditions stormy, it could be an altogether more dramatic situation.

View from the pier head
View from the pier head

The pier is relatively short but it curves and provides a protected area where boats can be moored. We saw a lot of action here with parties dress in life jackets being taken out on excursions in motor launches. Broadstairs used to be a fishing village but I think today the most of the fishing is of the leisure kind.

Beach shelter Decorative brackets
Beach shelter

Any self-respecting seaside resort needs beach shelters. These are designed to protect from the wind, rain and even sunshine while providing a clear view of the surroundings. I don’t know anything about these beach shelters but would hazard a guess that they are Victorian or Edwardian. The decorative brackets, reminiscent of what you see in railway stations of the period, is suggestive of that.

Jubilee Shelter
Jubilee Shelter

We can be sure, however, that this beautiful round shelter with a weather vane and clock is not what it seems. If you thought it was Victorian, built in 1897 for the Jubilee of the Queen, you would be right… and wrong! That was indeed the provenance of the original but this, sadly, was destroyed by fire in 1975. The present one is a replica, built, if my information is correct, by apprentices of the Thanet School of Building. It is a very creditable piece of work, every bit as good as the original, as far as I can see.

Broadstairs Railway Station
Broadstairs Railway Station

When it was time to leave, we could have caught a bus to the station as we often do but today, as the weather was fine, we went on foot, stopping off for tea along the way. We took Albion Street (past Dickens’s hotel) and then the High Street. The up platform is accessed by an entrance leading off a small car park. Everything is understated in the Broadstairs manner!

We shall return to the pleasant town with its crescent shape beach again. In the meantime, here is a final photo of Viking Bay (click to see a larger version).

Viking Bay, Broadstairs
Viking Bay
Broadstairs

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A Poplar destination

Sunday, July 12th 2015

Having spent the morning breakfasting and shopping, we decided to make another trip to East London. We had a specific goal in mind which will become apparent later on.

Poplar on the map
Poplar on the map
Click for Google Map

Our destination was the district of Poplar within the Borough of Tower Hamlets. The map shows you where it is and I have used Chrisp Street Market as a convenient reference point. To see the area in relation to the rest of London, clicking on the map will take you to Google Maps.

Poplar is said to take its name from the poplar trees that grew in the marshes that were once here but there are conflicting versions of the story, indicating that there is great uncertainty about this. Poplar’s population swelled with the development of the docks and the need to find homes for those employed in them. People of all classes and many different races came to Poplar, giving it a diverse character which it still possesses.

Bromley Public Hall
Bromley Public Hall
Bromley-by-Bow

We changed buses at Bromley and, while waiting for our connection, took a few photos. There are two Bromleys in London and their names, though now the same, have different origins. There is the Borough of Bromley in the south-east quadrant of Greater London, and there is this one, often known as Bromley-by-Bow to distinguish it from its namesake. Bromley, the borough, is thought to derive its name from the broom trees that once flourished there, whereas Bromley-by-Bow is found in old records as Brambele and Brambelegh, which scholars think derives from the Anglo-Saxon words brembel (‘bramble’) and lege (‘field’).

In the 12th century, a Benedictine convent was founded here, dedicated to St Leonard. It is possible that Chaucer had this convent in mind when he described the pilgrim Prioress, Madame Eglantine, as speaking French ‘after the scole of Stratford atte Bowe’.

Building of the pretty ‘public hall’ shown above began in 1879, according to the foundation stone in the porch. It was the administrative centre for the Vestry of St Leonard’s (vestries were the forerunners of modern boroughs) and still provides certain of the services of the local council. It is a Grade II listed building.

The Bow Bells
The Bow Bells

Next to the public Hall is a pub. The name seems reasonable enough: Bow Church is nearby and has bells, like most churches. I think it’s a bit of a cheat, though, because when you say ‘Bow Bells’, people immediately think of the famous Bow Bells, those of St Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside, within whose sound you have to be born in order to be considered a true Cockney. That’s far, far away from here. But let’s call it a sleight of hand and move on.

Pub Mural
Pub Mural

On the side of the pub is a mural. It shows  an archaic view of Bow Road and figures dressed in garments bearing patterns made with pearl buttons. These are the famous Pearly Kings and Queens. That’s fair enough, because there are groups of Pearlies all over London, including a group associated with Bow Church.

Urban desolation
Urban desolation

The bus deposited us at the southern end of Morris Road, Poplar. We rambled onwards into the unpronounceable Chrisp Street. (Actually, I think you pronounce it as though it were spelt ‘Crisp’.) I took the above photo by poking the camera through the fence. This is not a criticism of Poplar, such parcels of apparently abandoned land in a more or less foul condition exist all over London. Worse still, they act as a temptation to the zombie-brains whose only thought is to built high-rise high-rent apartment and office blocks and push out the ordinary citizens by depriving them of anywhere to live.

Langdon Park DLR Station
Langdon Park DLR Station

We passed in front of Langdon Park Station on the Docklands Light Railway network. On another day we could have used to DLR to come here but for years tube and railway services have been disrupted every weekend by ‘planned engineering works’, that is, by repairs made necessary by years of neglect. The station canopy seems to be sticking its tongue out at passers-by, a perfectly appropriate gesture in the circumstances.

Chrisp Street Market Clock
Chrisp Street Market Clock

Thus we came in sight of the market clock. I would like to be able to say that Chrisp Street Market dates from ancient times and received its charter from Henry II or some such but it wouldn’t be true. The market was designed by Frederick Gibberd as what was allegedly Britain’s first purpose-built pedestrian shopping area. It forms one end of the Lansbury Estate, a housing area badly damaged in the Second World War.

Chrisp Street Market
Chrisp Street Market

The estate was rebuilt by Gibberd, together with the new market, as part of the 1951 Festival of Britain. New and exciting in its day, it’s looking, 64 years on, a little tatty round the edges but no worse than many other parts of London and better than some.

Chrisp Street Market
Chrisp Street Market

I would have liked to see the market in action but it is closed on Sundays, though some of the permanent shops around the periphery were open.


Heckford House

Not everything is 1950s vintage in Poplar. There is evidence of previous projects to provide housing for ordinary people. One such is Heckford House, built in the 1920s. I am not sure of its current status. I have seen it mentioned online by estate agents so assume it is now privatized.

South African Tavern (defunct)
South African Tavern (defunct)

Old pubs always interest me. Like an old church, an old pub often embodies the history of the district in which it resides. This one was built in 1868 but ceased to operate as a pub in 2002. It’s now residential though I don’t quite know how that works. (Do those who inhabit the lounge bar cock a snook at those living in the public bar?) It possibly started out as the South African Tavern but was certainly known for a while as the African Tavern. Then it rebranded itself in more modern times as The African Queen. (In honour of the eponymous Bogart film?) Today, with its sign missing and its boards anonymised with dull paint, it looks like the pub equivalent of a mothballed ship, awaiting the day when it will need to go into action again.

Catholic Church of St Mary and St Joseph
Catholic Church of St Mary and St Joseph

Opposite the end of Grundy Street in Upper North Street stands this impressive pile of a church. I think its style gives away its age and it is no surprise to learn that it too was made as part of the Festival of Britain project. But who was the architect?

Porch, Church of St Mary and St Joseph
Porch, Church of St Mary and St Joseph

Often in these pages you will see churches ascribed to that great builder of Gothic Revival churches in the 19h century, Sir George Gilbert Scott. This church too was built by a Scott, to be precise, Adrian Gilbert Scott (1882-1963), grandson of an illustrious forebear.

Relief, Church Green
Relief, Church Green

Across the street from the church is what appears to be a pleasant garden, called Church Green. This was the site of the previous Church of St Mary and St Joseph which was destroyed in the Second World War. At one end stand this relief though I cannot tell you who it represents. Was it once part of the old church?

Door of Hope
Door of Hope
Nicholas Moreton, 2013

A little more interesting, perhaps, is this modern sculpture. It is by Nicholas Moreton and is called Door of Hope. To my mind, it is more of a fissure than a door but perhaps that is artistic licence.

Ambition, Compassion
Ambition, Compassion
Bygrove School Gate

Nearby is Bygrove Primary School. Apparently its values include Ambition, Compassion, Determination and Collaboration, because these are worked into the rather splendid school gate (though the Web site replaces Determination with Respect). This, I think, is a remarkable piece of work and I liked it a lot. Apart from the school’s name and values, there are a number of figures which, if I am not mistaken, were designed by pupils. There is also a mural but the gate takes the prize, as far as I am concerned.


The Festival Inn
“Don’t photograph me!”

We returned the way we had come, which meant passing through the market once more. It also provided the opportunity to photograph the Festival Inn. Street scenes almost inevitably contain people. I’d rather they didn’t but if they are there then, too bad, they are fair game. Just occasionally, though, someone will object. This happened here. As I was lining up the shot I heard the shout “Don’t photograph me!” You will see the person concerned, blurred out, to the right of the pub. If he didn’t want to be photographed, why did he stand there shouting (and thus getting himself photographed) instead of retreating from view (as he eventually did)? Either way, I have met his objections to the extent that I have blurred his image to make him unrecognizable.

The Chrisp Street Clock Tower
The Chrisp Street Clock Tower

On the way back through the market, I took this stitched close-up view of the Chrisp Street Clock Tower. I was intrigued by its open structure and the staircases which were wider than the usual staircase provided for winding and maintenance. It was only later that I learned that the original intention was to make this structure both a clock tower and an observation post. The idea was for the public to be able to climb the stairs and take in the view through the diamond shaped windows. Alas, it was not to be. Fears that the tower might be used by people to commit suicide led to its being closed off.

This brings us to the goal of our visit that I mentioned at the beginning. So, without more ado, here it is:

Chihuahua
Chihuahua
Irony and Boe

We had come to see this huge painting on the side of a building. It is by a cooperating pair of street artists called Irony and Boe. I don’t know whether the artists specified a title for the work, but the consensus seems to be that the dog is a Chihuahua and thus I have labelled the photo. I must say it doesn’t look like a Chihuahua to me though it is a very lively representation of a dog of some kind. More important than my opinion, however, is the quality of the work.

Chihuahua (detail)
Chihuahua (detail)

I don’t think the quality is in doubt. You need to see it for yourself but perhaps the above closer view will give you some idea. Note how the dog’s eyes reflect the scene. If this were a normal-sized canvas, it would be commendable enough but it in fact reaches right up the side of a building. How you execute a painting that size so accurately is beyond my comprehension. It made a fitting end and climax to our trip.

Copyright © 2015 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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Royal Albert Dock

Saturday, July 11th 2015

It took us three buses to reach the Royal Albert Dock, but we eventually arrived. Here it is on the map:

Royal Albert Dock
Royal Albert Dock
Click for Google Map

The Royal Albert Dock opened in 1880 and provided three miles of quayside for commercial shipping. Its ‘Royal’ title comes from the fact that it was opened by Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught, and third son of Queen Victoria, on her behalf. Its glory lasted but a century for it closed with the rest of the Port of London in 1980. Today it forms part of the new Docklands development and provides a site for London City Airport.

Westfield Stratford City
Westfield Stratford City

By the time we reached Stratford, we felt in need of refreshment. We entered the large shopping centre that bears the rather grandiose name Westfield Stratford City and found a branch of Caffè Nero where we tarried a while. (Stratford does seem to have rather grandiose ideas about itself. For example, one of its railway stations is called Stratford International despite the fact that the Eurostar does not stop there and never has, as far as I know.)

Stratford Town Centre Link
Stratford Town Centre Link

To continue our journey we needed to cross the railway lines to the bus station on the other side. To do so we went over the massive footbridge that is called the Stratford Town Centre Link. It is for pedestrians only but the designation ‘foot bridge’ hardly does it justice. It is a remarkable piece of engineering.

Railway and bus station from bridge steps
Railway and bus station from bridge steps

On reaching the south end of the bridge, you have to descend by a broad set of steps, and from the top of this there is quite a view of the railway station forecourt and bus station below.

The Sir Steve Redgrave Bridge
The Sir Steve Redgrave Bridge

We at last reached our destination and made our way to the waterside. We found ourselves in the neighbourhood of a bridge that carries the road (A117) over the eastern end of the dock. Opened in 1999 to replace an original swing bridge, it is called the Sir Steve Redgrave Bridge after the rower and Olympic medallist.

Under the Redgrave Bridge
Under the Redgrave Bridge

The bridge is no doubt very useful but it is rather ordinary and so I photographed it from underneath to produce a less conventional view! There is also something fascinating about the way the structure draws the eye along its length and through succeeding pairs of supports.

Silhouette under the bridge
Silhouette under the bridge

A figure lurks under the bridge. Who is it? Someone finishing a cigarette? A weary  traveller stopping for a rest? An unhappy soul contemplating jumping into the water? We shall never know. Soon he moved on…

Gallions Point Marina
Gallions Point Marina

The eastern end of the dock is home to the Gallions Point Marina. The dock is connected to the Thames by a lock and this stretch of the river is known as Gallions Reach. The name, I understand, comes from the Galyon family who owned property along this part the Thames in the 14th century.

A view of the dock
A view of the dock

Having come here, what was there to do? Not a lot, really, except stare at vast stretches of manmade waterway and take photos of it. In the dock’s heyday, it would have been a busy, complex and probably exciting place. Today it seems rather desolate. Clean and tidy, yes, but aseptic. Empty, all points of interest having disappeared.

Dock view with airport
Dock view with airport

Well, there is the airport, of course, but it seemed very quiet while we were there. You can see why they would put an airport here. The land is so flat. The Dutch would feel right at home here.

Signs of activity
Signs of activity

We walked across the bridge and in a far corner spied some signs of activity. Not actual activity, just signs that there is activity sometimes.

The lock to the Thames
The lock to the Thames

The road passes close to the Royal Albert Dock lock which provides an entrance and exit to the Thames. If you have walked along inland canals and seen their locks, the dimensions of this one will give you some idea of the size of the ships that came in and out when the dock was flourishing.

A small beach on the Thames
A small beach on the Thames

Thus we reached the Thames. Here too, the land continues the theme of flatness, with distant views clustering into a ragged line across the field of view. (Very like the Netherlands, in fact.)

Tower blocks
Tower blocks

On the other side of the river, a line tower blocks stands like a row of broken teeth.

Ships at their moorings
Thames tugs
Ships at their moorings

There were some ships in view but they were moored and still. Nothing was moving on the water. It was peaceful or boring, depending on your point of view.

We had reached the river by walking through a residential area. We had thought nothing of this at the time and it was only when we tried to leave that we discovered a problem.

A gated community
A gated community

We followed the broad paved walkway that you see in the photo above and eventually came to a gate to the outside. It was locked. There was a notice telling us that during daylight hours, the gate could be opened by pressing a button. We pressed the button but it didn’t work. We tried leaving by another way and found another locked gate. It began to look as though we were prisoners doomed to roam the streets of this gated community until someone took pity on us and smuggled us out!

Following Google Maps on our iPhones (as long as you have a signal, this app acts like a GPS satnav), we found our way to where we had come in and were able to regain our liberty! All we needed now was the patience to endure the long bus ride home.

Copyright © 2015 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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Heat wave Sunday

Sunday, July 5th 2015

This week we have been enjoying – or enduring – a heat wave. Heat waves are not all that rare in the UK but they never seem to be expected and so, when they burst upon us, life goes a little haywire. Public transport suffers delays and breakdowns and people go a little mad, exposing themselves unprotected to the sun and suffering the painful consequences.

Yesterday, Saturday, Tigger and I went out for breakfast at Gallipoli while the temperature was still relatively cool, then spent the rest of the day at home, under the cooling breeze of our electric fans. Today, however, we needed to do the shopping and so emerged tentatively into the open, hoping to complete the task before the temperature reached its maximum. We breakfasted at Pret and then dragged the shopping trolley around Sainsbury’s, collecting the week’s necessities, before hurrying home again.

After a siesta, we decided to make the effort to go out. First, we needed to pick up a cable for Tigger’s desk fan from Maplin and then we would find a pleasant place for a late lunch.

St Mary-le-Bow
St Mary-le-Bow

We visited the branch of Maplin at St Paul’s and then strolled along Cheapside, the site of London’s great market in medieval times. (Ceap or chepe was the old word for ‘market’.) In passing, I took the above photo of St Mary-le-Bow. The medieval church on this site was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and a new church was built by Sir Christopher Wren (1671-3). This, unfortunately, was destroyed by bombing in 1941 and rebuilt by Laurence King, being consecrated in 1964. By tradition, a true Cockney is a person born within the sound of Bow Bells, that is, the bells of this church.

Comptoir Libanais
Comptoir Libanais

We had for some time wanted to have a meal at Comptoir Libanais at Liverpool Street Station. We had made several attempts and found them closed. The last time, they were open but there was live music in the square outside, so loud that we literally couldn’t hear ourselves speak, so we had left without ordering.

Comptoir Libanais
Comptoir Libanais, interior

Today, happily, the environment was calmer and we were able, at last, to enjoy the meal we had been looking forward to. The face on the wall, on the menu and on their publicity material is that of actress Sirine Jamal al Dine, whom they have adopted as ‘the glamorous beacon of the brand’.

Liverpool Street Station complex
Liverpool Street Station complex

After lunch we walked through the Liverpool Street Station complex. Tall blocks crammed together give the impression of a nightmare world of the future where people crawl like ants along gullies between metal towers.

Metal geometries
Metal geometries

The fact that London is being transformed into a Disney version of Dallas seems not to worry anyone. In fact, many are pleased, especially the architects who perpetrate the crime and the developers who grow wealthy from exploiting these inhuman constructs.

Spaces and angles
Spaces and angles

There are a few open spaces between the looming towers and I suppose we must be grateful for small mercies.

Elder Street
Elder Street

We took a turn around the back streets where the more interesting sights are to be found. Above is Elder Street, a street of fine 18th-century houses (building began in 1722), handsome and well preserved.

Fleur de Lis Street
Fleur de Lis Street

Many different types of building stand side by side and, to the experienced eye, tell the history of the area. Fleur de Lis Street was one of the streets that lay within the old Liberty of Norton Folgate. A liberty in this sense was a defined area of land that was under the authority of an ecclesiastical establishment – in this case, the Priory and Hospital of St Mary Spital – and not of the local secular powers. This privilege generally ended with the Reformation and the land reverted to the Crown.

B.Brave
B.Brave
B.Brave
Paste-up by Donk

This area falls within the district of Shoreditch which is rich in street art. On the corner of Fleur de Lis Street and Blossom Street is a door bearing the number 10 in red numerals. It is much graffitied but carries a paste-up of a young boy wearing an American Indian headdress. This picture by Donk is far from unique, as appears again and again throughout the neighbourhood, but is personal to the artist. From an interview, we learn that the picture derives from one of a set of photos taken by the artist of his son, in pyjamas, wearing the headdress.

Untitled
Untitled
Otto Schade

Silhouettes against sunset coloured backgrounds within a circular frame are a hallmark of Otto Schade. Otto trained as an architect in Chile but preferred art and became a travelling artist until he settled (for how long?) in the UK. In this painting in Fashion Street, a woman with two young children appears against to dramatic tones of the sunset in the sights of a sniper’s rifle. The contrast between the vulnerability of the people and the implication of an efficient killing machine is stark.

SICK!
SICK!
Ronzo

Beside Otto’s painting in Fashion Street is one of a cloud vomiting a rainbow. It is by Ronzo (his own page at ronzo.co.uk seems not to be working), who is known as much for his sculptures and works in relief as for his paintings.

Benthe and Peter O'Toole
Benthe and Peter O’Toole
Paul Don Smith

At first sight, this painting by Paul Don Smith looks like a post for the film Lawrence of Arabia, but it seems instead to be a commemorative work, though of the two people commemorated, one is dead (Peter O’Toole) and the other still alive (model Benthe de Vries). The portrait of Benthe is acknowledged to be based on a photo by photographer Rennio Maifredi.

Various works Various works
Various works
including
Eau de Pardun
Endless

Still in Fashion Street, a projecting section of wall carries various works of various kinds by different artists. Among these is a paste-up by Endless. It shows an expensive-looking perfume bottle bearing an invented logo with the brand name ‘Chapel’ and the product name ‘Eau de Pardun’, obviously a reference to Chanel and its Eau de Parfum. This idea (avoiding copyright problems, no doubt) has been used with variation in other works of the artist, whose name is inscribed on the neck of the bottle.

Golden Dragonfish = Endangered
Golden Dragonfish = Endangered

At 67 Commercial Street is what appears to be an abandoned property, once a shop. The façade has been extensively over-painted with various paintings and graffiti.

Portrait
Portrait
Furia 139 (Furia ACK)

This interesting portrait appears on the shutter of a kebab shop at 65 Commercial Street. It is an example of something I have mentioned before, commissioned paintings on shutters and other surfaces belonging to commercial properties that are not merely decorative but are also original works of art. This one is signed by Furia 139, an artist also known as Furia ACK.

Java U, Wentworth Street
Java U, Wentworth Street

To round off our outing (and to cool off a little) we stopped for refreshments at Java U in Wentworth Street. This was a new one on me but we might well pop in again if in the area. Soon, though, we caught a bus for the ride home and a restful end to the day.

Copyright © 2015 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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