Saturday, July 9th 2016
We started with a visit to Shoreditch where we had breakfast in one of the new breed of retro-style American diners and then strolled around the area looking for any new street art.
Sadly, there was not a lot to see and I have the distinct feeling that, though street art is flourishing around the world (see, for example, the frequent posts in Street Art News), in Shoreditch it is dying on its feet. The frequency of appearance of new works has fallen off recently and much of what does appear is boring text in which I have no interest whatsoever. I am not sure of the reasons for this though there are what you might call straws in the wind.
This work is unsigned and I don’t know who the artist is. Next to it (and perhaps intended to be part of it) is a tag that appears all over the area reading ‘LAST DAYS OF SHOREDITCH’. Does this mean that artists themselves see Shoreditch as no longer a viable place for their art?
This colourful, shiny skull is unsigned. (I think the letters above the right eye socket are an intrusive tag, not the artist’s signature.)
This painting is signed but even if the signature is difficult to decipher, the style and palette leave us in no doubt that this is by Mr Cenz.
This lively and well delineated bird is by This One who seems to prefer to work in white on black.
This intriguing piece is by Andrea Riot who has produced many similar designs. The picture consists of what at first sight appear to be interlinked straps with intercalated diamond shapes but it also reminds me of something else: of Arabic calligraphy. Is the resemblance accidental or intentional? Or am I seeing something that isn’t there?
We had had our breakfast and that’s perhaps why my heart warmed to this pair of pigeons breakfasting on an Indian spicy poppadum.
We later went to the Barbican and approached the Church of St Giles Cripplegate (ancientlly called St Giles-without-Cripplegate) which is now within the Barbican complex. We have photographed this church before – see, for example, Art and life at the Barbican, some fountains and a fat infant. Here’s what I wrote about its history on that occasion:
St Giles Cripplegate is the Barbican’s parish church. It is often described as “the only surviving medieval church in the City of London”, though this is to interpret “surviving” somewhat loosely. The church may originally have been built in medieval times (1394) but since then it has suffered two fires (1545 and 1897) and was virtually destroyed in the air raid that flattened the neighbourhood in 1940. It was rebuilt according to the plans used in the restoration of 1545. The name has nothing to do with cripples but comes from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “covered gate”. The church originally stood just outside the city wall.
On previous occasions, the church was closed but today we found the door open. The reason was that there was an organ lesson in progress and that is why the church was accessible. We had just a few minutes to go inside and take a look.
The stained glass window is dedicated to Edward Alleyn (1566-1626) whom it describes as ‘Benefactor of this Parish’. Alleyn was an actor and theatre owner who also spent money on charitable works: he is shown holding a model of the almshouses which he established in 1610. Also shown in the window is the Fortune Theatre, which he owned, and St Luke’s Church Old Street. This was originally built in 1711 as a relief church for St Giles but I do not know in what way Alleyn was connected with it. I assume that the window is modern, though I have not been able to find out who made it or when it was installed.
A number of notable persons are remembered in the church, including the poet John Milton who was buried in the church in 1674. The life-size statue to him was erected in 1904 and is by Horace Montford (1868-1938).
Outside the church, we found this. You could be forgiven for not realizing what it is but happily there is an explanatory notice. This tells us that this is in fact a work of art, representing one of the Stations of the Cross. To be precise, this is Station 9, Jesus falls for the third time. Together with its companion pieces, it forms a chain across London, no doubt a cunning plan to get art lovers to take more exercise. You will find an more detailed explanation of this work, a typical example of the inflated nonsense that often accompanies works of art these days, on this page. (Scroll down to find Station 9.) Such explanations are presumably necessary because the artist has not been able to make the work represent what it is supposed to represent. But if the work does not represent what it is supposed to represent, can it be said to be about anything at all? It seems to me that there is more than a touch of the Emperor’s New Clothes about much of modern art.