A couple of sculptures

Thursday, July 24th 2014

This evening we happened to find ourselves in the area around St Katharine’s Dock and we went in Thomas More Square. There we found a couple of sculptures. The sun was sinking and the shadows lengthening, making the light very contrasty. Did this detract from the sculptures or did it enhance them in some strange way? You be the judge.

Angel Musician Angel Musician
Angel Musician
Carl Milles (unveiled 1991)

The curious thing about angels is that they are supposed to be sexless but that they are almost never so represented in art. They are either aggressively masculine, as in the representations of St Michael trouncing the Devil or, when they appear on tombs in cemeteries, voluptuously feminine. This one seems to have taken the form of a skinny teenager but his gender is obvious.

To Meet Again
To Meet Again To Meet Again
To Meet Again
Michel Beck (1990)

I am not sure whether the couple, who seem to be staring deeply into one another’s eyes, are on the point of parting or whether they are meeting again after a separation. The title seems to allow either. Perhaps we choose whichever meaning is uppermost in our own mind.

Copyright © 2014 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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Three to be going on with

Wednesday, July 23rd 2014

It has been hot lately, hot enough to act as a disincentive to activity outside that which is essential, such as work and shopping. We haven’t made our usual visits and haven’t taken many photographs. I am not going to grumble about the heat, though, because it will break soon enough and we shall then start grumbling about the cold and wishing it was warm again!

Just to be going on with, here are three photos taken at odd moments during this time of heat and inactivity. They were taken at different times and there is no connection between them.

The Big Issue seller and the pigeon
The Big Issue seller and the pigeon

Near Fenchurch Street Station I noticed this vendor of The Big Issue. There are many such at large in London but what attracted my attention in this case was the man’s companion. On the pavement beside him was a pigeon. Pigeons are hardly rare in London either, but this one was standing quite still and was gazing at the man as though waiting for something. Used to seeing pigeons actively bobbing about, I found this expectant stillness unusual. I can only guess that the magazine seller is in the habit of sharing his lunch with the pigeon and that the pigeon is waiting for that happy moment. I hope so.

The green bicycle
The green bicycle (Clerkenwell)

A green bicycle is propped against a post in the sunshine while the owner is in the shop. What’s the story? There isn’t one. It’s just a green bicycle in the sunshine. It attracted me, for some reason, perhaps because of the unusual colours (it looks hand painted) and its somewhat “retro” design. You would have seen bicycles like this trundling around Cheltenham under ageing bottoms in the 1950s. It is a sedate bicycle for a lady in a hat and a flowing skirt.

Wall painting by Endless
Wall painting by Endless

There is a cafe in St John Street that we frequent from time to time. The other day, the owner pointed out to us a painting that had appeared on an end wall nearby. He was mystified by it so I photographed it and looked up the artist. It is by a street artist who works under the name of Endless. He seems to practise stencil work and paste-ups as well as direct painting. You will find some information on the artist here and his Facebook page here.

Endless is a member of a growing band of street artists who bring to their labours true artistic ability though their creations often have a spontaneous, finished-in-a-hurry look. Their works are sometimes on a grand scale occupying whole walls or building façades. It is an ephemeral art because their works often become obscured by graffiti and tags or are covered over by new paintings. While “Banksy” is well known to the public and has attained cult status, he is far from alone in his endeavours and other artists bring equal dedication and edgy inspiration to their often impressive artworks.

Copyright © 2014 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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Vauxhall City Farm

Saturday, July 12th 2014

Britain has been languishing under a heat wave these last few weeks and this has token its toll on our activities. The heat, combined with that traditional bugbear of these islands, the humidity, has disinclined us to engage in more than minimal activity. This afternoon, however, we gritted our teeth and set out. Where were we going? I’m not sure, but we ended up south of the river in Vauxhall.

This strange name, now applied to a railway station and the area around it, is said to derive from Falkes de Breauté, a henchman of King John, who had a manor or hall hereabouts. By the 13th century, this was known as Faukeshale (“Falkes’ Hall”), later Foxhall and, eventually Vauxhall.

Tree stump dragon Tree stump dragon
Tree stump dragon
Commemorating the St George’s Day Festival, 2014

We walked across Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, today a pleasant park, but  which, from the mid-17th century to the mid-19th century had been a famous gardens and place of entertainment. It was said to be a favourite of Sir Christopher Wren. We discovered this rather fine piece of wood carving protruding from the grass. It looks as if it is the stump of a tree that has been carved to represent a fire-breathing dragon. I could not see any indication of the artist’s name but engraved below it are the words “Saint George’s Day Festival 2014”.

Alpaca
Alpaca
Vauxhall City Farm

On the east side of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is the Vauxhall City Farm. Our first glimpse of the inmates was of this alpaca grazing in its compound. How many city farms are there in London? That’s not an easy question to answer because it depends on how your define a city farm. It’s probably safe to say that there are more than 12 and fewer than 20.

Black and white sheep
Black and white sheep

It’s also not easy to say what animals you can expect to see in a city farm. There will usually be examples of the more common farm animals such as sheep, goats, pigs, ducks and chickens though relatively few seem to have cows or bulls. In addition, they may have more exotic species such as llamas, alpacas, guinea fowl and runner ducks.

Pony Pony
Pony

City farms are characterized by their educational intent which covers not only animal welfare but also general environmental concern. There is usually plenty of information on display and staff, who present more like keepers in a zoo than farm hands in the traditional sense, may give talks and be on hand to answer questions.

Bug hotel
Bug hotel

An indication of wider environmental concerns is the presence of “bug hotels” to provide living quarters for the smaller members of the community.

Having a drink together
Having a drink together

It is not always easy to get a good photo (or even a good view) of your favourite animals because they usually reside in comfortably sized enclosures and move about freely within them. You have to keep a watchful eye and take your chance when it comes.

A goat and an audience
A goat and an audience

Something else that makes life a little difficult for the photographer is that city farms are likely to be crowded, especially at weekends and in fine weather. Many a good shot has been ruined by people stepping in front of the camera at the critical moment! This is a good, though, because it means that people are interested in seeing the animals and by doing so they learn about them. Surveys have shown lamentable ignorance among school children who were unaware that milk came from cows or could not put a name to sheep and other common species.

Begging for titbits
Begging for titbits

A clear difference between the traditional farm and the city farm is how the animals react to you. On a traditional farm, a stranger in unlikely to get anywhere near the sheep as these shy creatures will run away from him. The opposite occurs on the city farm: even the sheep will approach you and make eyes at you! This is cupboard love, of course, as they are hoping for a snack.

See how magnificent I am!
See how magnificent I am!
Click to see the slide show

There are more ways of reacting to a human audience than asking for food. This turkey cock, for example, seeing that he had an audience, began his display routine, as he would in front of a hen. He was clearly saying “Look how magnificent I am!” (Click to see the other pictures.)

Rarin' to go
Rarin’ to go

City farms are busy places and, as on any farm, there is a lot of work to do. They run on a shoestring and welcome volunteers to support the regular staff.

I don’t know where this pair of goats was off to but the animals were obviously excited and rarin’ to go. This energy and interest shows that the inmates are well cared for and are healthy.

We decided we had had enough of the heat and took a bus home for a rest and a cup of tea!

Copyright © 2014 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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