Monday, August 24th 2015
We had intended to go to the South London Art Gallery in Southwark but we found it closed. Apparently, it closes on Mondays.
So we took some photos of the building, which is very handsome, and passed next door.
This is now the Camberwell College of Arts though it was originally built as a technical school. It, and the art gallery, come as a pair, built in the late Victorian period and partly funded by philanthropist John Passsmore Edwards.
As we approached the door of the college, we were intercepted by a workman, one of a pair, who told us that ‘All this area is a building site and the public is not allowed access’. (You can see him peering in at the right-hand side of he photo. Legally, he didn’t have a leg to stand on as there were no notices and no fences so we could have ignored him.
Our next port of call was the Imperial War Museum. Really, I should call it the ‘Imperial War Museum London’ because there are now two other IWMs, in Manchester and Duxford, respectively. While I suppose succeeding generations need to learn about war and the havoc it wreaks on life and civilization, I do not know why we need three war museums. One is largely sufficient, it seems to me. You may guess from the foregoing that the IWM is not one of my favourite places to visit. I find the images of death and destruction, and displays of weaponry, depressing.
Having said that, I must also add that some of its exhibitions are worth seeing. We had come to see Fashion on the Ration, an exhibition about how people did their best to dress themselves stylishly and furnish their homes doing the Second World War when everything was in short supply or even unobtainable and your ration book determined what you could buy and how much of it. Photography was not allowed in the exhibition so I cannot show you any images. So here is something else:
To complete today’s ramble, we betook ourselves to Leake Street to view the street art there.
Leake Street runs under Waterloo Station and therefore presents as a covered road or tunnel. It was once an ordinary road but is now closed to vehicles. Since 2008 (I think) painting on the walls and ceiling have been permitted, hence its nickname, the Graffiti Tunnel. It has become famous and it is rare to visit it and not see other people photographing the wall art. (Note the photographer in the above picture.)
As with other sites where street art is practised, there are obscure rules about over-painting other people’s work. I don’t know what the rules are but they mean that each painting has a finite, and usually short, lifespan. Don’t count on seeing a painting you admire today still here when you come back another day. Looking at it another way, each time you return, you find something new.
Street artists may sign their works but often do not. Some paintings include captions but most do not and, in any case, if there is a caption, you cannot be sure it was put there by the artist. What the paintings are about, what they ‘mean’, is left to your imagination. I therefore present my selection of the pictures seen today without any intrusive comment of mine.
Some of the paintings are large in scale and, in the relatively narrow confines of the tunnel, it is not always possible to capture them with a single shot. Some of the pictures below have been made by ‘stitching’ several frames together. (You can see which these are as the filename includes the string ‘_stitch’.)
As well as photographers, professional or amateur, photographing the paintings, it is not unusual to find film crews or photo shoot crews using the tunnel as a free location.
I saw this group at work and took a couple of photos of them. I seem to have been spotted. Not that it matters: no one has exclusive rights to the setting or the decor. As long as people take care not to hog the art or get in one another’s way there are no complaints and everyone is happy.