Summer pavilion and oil-drum art

Sunday, September 2nd 2018

Each year, the Serpentine Gallery commissions a summer pavilion which is open to the public. This page shows all the pavilions created so far. This year’s pavilion was designed by Mexican architect Frida Escobedo, the youngest architect so far to contribute a pavilion. The Serpentine Gallery’s page on this year’s pavilion is here (scroll down and click on ‘Read more’) and a good comment page on it appears on this page by Dezeen.

Below, without further comment, are some photos I took while visiting the pavilion with Tigger.

Serpentine Pavilion 2018

Serpentine Pavilion 2018

Serpentine Pavilion 2018 Serpentine Pavilion 2018

Serpentine Pavilion 2018

Serpentine Pavilion 2018

Serpentine Pavilion 2018

Serpentine Pavilion 2018

After photographing the pavilion, we made our way along the edge of the Serpentine lake to the Lido cafe because Tigger fancied some ice cream. There our attention was caught by a massive floating work of art by Christo, the surviving member of the Christo and Jeanne-Claude team. Christo is renowned worldwide for creating huge ‘sculptures’ or installations, such as those where he wraps up bridges or cliffs.

The structure, made of 7,502 oil barrels, and currently floating on the Serpentine, is called The Mastaba (Arabic for a particular kind of bench placed in front of houses) because its shape resembles that of its namesake. The structure might be described as a temporary sculpture as it can, and has been, dismantled and reconstructed in different places. Christo (whose artworks are always signed with his sole name despite his long collaboration with his wife Jeanne-Claude) believes that art should be free and that the public should have free access to it. He claims not to be expressing any ‘message’ in his works, though this has not prevented art critics from analysing his supposed message. For example, see this somewhat deprecatory review in the Guardian.

There is plenty of information online about the artist(s) and here I will cite just the artist’s own Web page, the Serpentine Gallery’s page on the Mastaba, the Wikipedia entry on Christo and Jeanne-Claude and an account of the Mastaba by Dezeen.

My photos are all taken from one specific angle but you will find more photos online and a nice ‘Virtual Reality Experience’ of The Mastaba provided by the Serpentine Gallery.

The Mastaba

The Mastaba

The Mastaba

The Mastaba

From a huge man-made work of art to a smaller but exquisite work made by nature: While we were taking our photos, this swan came sailing over to see whether we had any food to give away.

The Swan

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

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Posted in Art and Culture | Tagged | 2 Comments

Around Hove Museum

Saturday, September 1st 2018

Brighton Railway Station
Brighton Railway Station

Today’s trip started at Brighton Railway Station which we reached by train from St Pancras. The railway first reached Brighton in 1841 and an Italianate-style station was designed by David Mocata. This soon proved inadequate for the town’s expanding railway traffic and was extended in the 1850s, including the splendid curved glass roof sheltering the platforms. Today the station is a Grade II* listed building.

Brighton was not our ultimate destination. Instead, we caught a bus to Hove. You will see Hove on the map below where it nestles against its sibling on the left (west) side. (Click for a live OpenStreetMap of the area.)

Hove and Brighton
Hove and Brighton

Hove tends to be dominated by its neighbour, Brighton, which is larger and brasher, but it is a town in its own right and has its own character.

Church Road and environs
Church Road and environs

We took a bus to Hove and then walked down George Street, which is lined with shops and, more importantly for our immediate purposes, contains a branch of Caffè Nero! The above map, courtesy of GeoSetter, shows our movements around Church Road, starting in the aforementioned George Street. If you wonder why there is a tangle of tracks in a couple of places, that is because these were places where we stopped for a while, the first (top left) Caffè Nero, and the second (near centre), a cafe in Church Road called Drury, where we paused for lunch. When we stay for a while in the same place, the Qstarz geotagger’s trace wanders and creates a mare’s nest of spurious tracks. This is one of its little foibles that you get used to.

Interior, Caffè Nero
Interior, Caffè Nero

Caffè Nero is one of our favourite resting places where we can consume coffee – and perhaps cake! – and use the toilet. As local councils have closed most of their public toilets, cafes and pubs have been called upon to make good the loss.

Church of St Andrew
Church of St Andrew

We first stopped for a look at the Church of St Andrew, the local parish church. (There is another St Andrew’s Church in Waterloo Street.)

Church of St Andrew
Church of St Andrew

The original church on the site was built in late Norman times and vestiges of it, and of later additions, still remain. This church, however, fell into a ruinous condition and was rebuilt in stages during the 19th century. The result was sufficiently successful for the church to be awarded a Grade II* listing.

Lych Gate
Lych Gate

Entrance to the churchyard is sheltered by a lych gate. The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lic (pronounced ‘lich’) which meant ‘body’. The word could designate both a living and a dead body but here it refers to the corpse being brought to church for the funeral service. In times past, it was customary for the priest to meet the funeral party at the gate and the roof was for protection in inclement weather as much as for ceremonial purposes. Lych gates fell out of use after the Middle Ages though a few ancient ones survive. Then came the Victorians with their interest in the quaint and the historical and they built a number of new ones. The question, then when you come across a lych gate is: ‘It is ancient or modern?’ There is no doubt about the answer in this case as there is a brass plaque indicating its origins:

THIS LYCHGATE, ERECTED AND GIVEN TO
THE OLD PARISH CHURCH OF HOVE BY THE
SHIVERERS SWIMMING CLUB IN MEMORY OF THOSE MEMBERS
WHO FELL IN THE WAR 1939-1945 WAS UNVEILED BY THE
PRESIDENT OF THE AMATEUR SWIMMING ASSOCIATION AND
DEDICATED BY THE BISHOP OF LEWES ON THE 2626 SEPTEMBER 1953

Hove Library 
Hove Library

Tucked in between commercial premises in Church Road is the handsome Hove public library.  Hove created its first public library in the 1890s but in the early 1900s, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie made a grant of £10,000 to build a new library, this money making up a substantial part of the final cost of £13,500. The new library opened in 1907. The library hase survived that first 111 years of its life, albeit with the loss of a cupola and a roof garden, and is now Grade II listed which gives it a measure of protection for the future.

Hove Library, entrance
Hove Library, entrance

As central government continues to squeeze funding for local authorities, the public library system has come under increasing pressure. A number of libraries have been closed as a result. Hove library faces these same pressures and is seeking ways to increase its income such as opening part of the building to commercial tenants and establishing a cafe.

Despite the changes in lifestyle brought about by the electronic age, surveys show that public libraries are valued by the public and continue to perform an essential and unique role in the life of the community. It is to be hoped that Hove Library and its like can survive and continue to serve that need.

Hove Museum
Hove Museum

Hove Museum and Art Gallery resides in what was once a family home. It was built in 1870 to a design by a local architect, Thomas Lainson. The owner, John Valance, named it Brooker Hall, taking the middle name of his father. He and his wife Emma Kate brought up their five children here. Valance died in 1893 and his wife continued living in Brooker Hall until her own death in 1913. During the First World War, German prisoners of war were billeted here. In 1926, Hove Corporation bought the house and opened it as a museum in the following year.

The Jaipur Gate
The Jaipur Gate

As we approach the entrance, we are confronted by this handsome structure known as the Jaipur Gate. It was built for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition held in South Kensington in 1886. It stood at the entrance of the Rajputana (today Rajasthan) section of the exhibition. It was donated to the museum in 1926.

The Jaipur Gate
The Jaipur Gate

The gate was paid for by the Maharaja of Jaipur and was carved and assembled by Indian craftsmen but it had in fact been designed by two Britons, Colonel Samuel Swinton Jacob and Surgeon-Major Thomas Holbein Hendley. The gilded inscriptions express in three languages, the motto of the Maharajas of Jaipur which is, in English ‘Where virtue is – there is victory’.

Here are just three items from those that I saw and admired in the museum and art gallery.

Candelabra
Candelabra
Avril Wilson, 1989

The museum has a strong local flavour. Admission is free and photography is permitted. The above artwork in mild steel and bronze is by Avril Wilson. I think we can call her a local artist inasmuch as she is currently a senior lecturer in the University of Brighton’s School of art. You will find more about her on her University Web page.

Paul Helping his Brother Doug, and Scooby, Will and Saxon
Paul Helping his Brother Doug, and Scooby, Will and Saxon
Letitia Yhap, 1980-1

Thought the painter of this scene, Letita Yhap, is not local (I believe she comes from Surrey), the painting’s theme is relevant to Brighton as it recalls the fishing industry that was once important here and of which many traces and memories remain.

The Ballet Shoe
The Ballet Shoe
Dame Laura Knight, 1932

Dame Laura Knight is one of my favourite artists and I was pleased to see one of her paintings here. The artist had a strong interest in ballet and she captured this scene in 1932. Nowadays it is hard to believe that some of her works were condemned by critics of the time because she unblushingly portrayed the female form. This was a period when women students of art were not allowed to draw nude female models whereas men students had that right. One of her most famous works is called Self Portrait, and it depicts the artist in the act of painting a female nude. (See here.) More information about the artist and her work may be found here.

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

Posted in Out and About | Tagged | 2 Comments

Overnight at the zoo – next day

Monday, August 27th 2018

We awoke bright and early after a peaceful night’s rest. We and the other guests were asked to meet together with our hosts to be conducted to the cafe where we would have our buffet breakfast. Inevitably, some people took a long time to rouse themselves and prepare for the day so we had a while to wait.

Gir Lion Lodge
Gir Lion Lodge

We made use of this time to explore the area and take a few photos.

Rescue Well
Rescue Well

The zoo has a lot of green areas and I photographed this scene as an example. In the left foreground is a mock-up of a well with a surrounding wall. It was only afterwards that I learned its significance. In Gujarati villages wells are common and there is a problem with leopards and tigers falling into them. ZSL has been building walls around the wells to prevent this happening. A notice board explains this and the method used to rescue one of those dangerous animals that has fallen in. A human rescuer is lowered into the well in a cage and sedates the animal. (The notice doesn’t say how this intricate task is performed!) The animal is manoeuvred onto a stretcher and both parties winched up out of the well.

Statue of Ganesha
Statue of Ganesha

The meeting point where we were to wait for the sleepy-heads to join us was a mock-up of an Indian village and the above statue of the god Ganesha was one of the items on display.

Blue-Throated Macaws
Blue-Throated Macaws

At last everyone was present and we set off in a gaggle,, led by a couple of zoo-keepers, through the maze of lanes and paths to the cafe, passing these pretty Blue-Throated Macaws on the way.

We had a leisurely breakfast and then gathered for the morning’s tour which takes place before the general public are admitted for the day. We visited a number of areas and were given verbal information on a selection of animals then taken behind the scenes to the management area where aspects of the the feeding and care of the inmates were explained.

While this was very interesting and I learned a lot, I found it tiring as there was a lot of standing around listening to the keepers’ commentary. Quite often that would be two keepers adding their own contributions and this sometimes gave a rather haphazard feel to the proceedings. While the spontaneity was attractive, I sometimes felt that the information could have been delivered more efficiently. (And a few more seats provided for the longer sessions!)

Below are a few photos that I took of the animals that impressed me the most of those we visited.

Humboldt Penguins
Humboldt Penguins

We spent quite some time at Penguin Beach, visiting the Humboldt Penguins. These appealing creatures are peaceful and seem to enjoy human contact, especially when the humans in question come bearing fish! Their environment is designed to emulate a beach in South America which would have been these penguins’ natural habitat.

Penguins under water
Penguins under water

Though penguins are slow-moving on land they are quite different in water, fast-moving and acrobatic. They can apparently reach speeds of 30 mph (48 kph) when pursuing fish. The glass side of the pool allows one to watch them swimming, an exercise that they show every sign of enjoying.

Galapagos Tortoise
Galapagos Tortoise

From speed to legendary slowness! The Galapagos Tortoises are also known as Giant tortoises for obvious reasons. To anyone who has has a pet tortoise, these creatures seem mind-boggling huge, reaching up to 6ft (1.8m) in length. They seem to live in slow motion compared with other creatures and enjoy a lifespan of up to 100 years or possibly more.

Enjoying being stroked
Enjoying being stroked

Much of the tortoise’s body is protected by the hard shell and the legs are protected with thick scales. The only vulnerable and sensitive area (apart from the multi-purpose tail which is usually kept tucked under the shell) is the neck and head. The tortoises enjoy having their necks stroked, as in the above photo, and stretch them out to their full extent.

Still holding position...
Still holding position…

Even after the keeper had left, the tortoises held the position, perhaps hoping she would come back and start again.

Enter the dragon...
Enter the dragon…

The mythical winged fire-breathing dragon may not exist but the Komodo Dragon is the next best thing. The world’s largest surviving lizard, the dragon has toxic saliva and hunts medium-sized mammals such as deer and has been known eat humans.

Komodo Dragon

Komodo Dragon
Komodo Dragon

Despite the dragon’s fierceness, this one fixed us with a quizzical, almost friendly, eye, though I would not have been tempted into close proximity. Perhaps it was feeding time and he was hoping we were bringing him his breakfast.

Sulawesi Crested Macaque
Sulawesi Crested Macaque

In common parlance we use the word ‘monkey’ as though there were only one sort of animal that conforms to the name whereas in fact there dizzyingly many species of primates living in different environments and exhibiting a vast array of physical types and lifestyles. The one above is a Sulawesi Crested Macaque from Indonesia. He (or she?) seemed in meditative mood. The species is under threat in its homeland but this small colony is safe, at least for the lifetime of its members.

Northern White-Cheeked Gibbon
Northern White-Cheeked Gibbon

We spent some time watching the White-Cheeked Gibbons. These intelligent animals were quite active and perhaps a tad aggressive. Our guide told us that keepers are not allowed to enter the gibbons’ enclosure as they are too dangerous. With the long arms and legs, they swing from branches and move swiftly about. This one – a male, I assume – was intent on attracting our attention by thumping on the glass partition.

I was, of course, hoping to have a good view of my namesake, the tiger. Unfortunately, we gained no more than a glimpse of the male passing by.

Sumatran Tiger
Sumatran Tiger

The tigers in London Zoo are Sumatran Tigers, a small and critically endangered subspecies from Indonesia. Here they live in an enclosure called Tiger Territory that imitates their natural habitat. Apparently, each morning, the male ‘beats the bounds’ to make sure that no outsider tigers have invaded his territory during the night. We later saw him, his day’s work done, stretched out and dozing!

When the tour ended, we were free to spend the rest of the day in the zoo, if we wished. The zoo opened to the public and soon became crowded. Tigger and I decided that we had seen enough (and walked enough!) for one visit and that it was time to go home. We left, as we had arrived, through the side entrance, collecting our bags on the way.

Zoos are controversial and it is right that their mode of operation – and even their existence – be questioned. In some parts of the world there are badly run zoos where the animals live in abominable conditions. Every effort should be made to close down these dreadful institutions.

Despite the criticisms, I believe there is a legitimate role for well run zoos like the ZSL London Zoo. They have an important – I would say essential – role in educating the public about these, our companion species on the planet. They also play a much needed role in conservation. As careless and selfish human activity continues to drive species into extinction, a time is fast approaching when many species will exist only in zoos. In the meantime, good work is being done with breeding programmes, some of which lead to individual animals or even species being returned to their natural habitat.

London Zoo impressed me with the great care it takes of its inmates, creating natural living environments and providing not only the correct food but also a regime that stimulates them mentally and emotionally and avoids boredom. I would not like to be a zoo animal but if I were, then I believe that ZSL London Zoo would be the best zoo for me to live in.

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

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