20 January 2017

A Waterloo Walk – marvellous mosaics and classic cars

On a recent walking tour of the Southbank led by the very informative Peter Bertoud he showed us the doorway to Southbank Mosaics in the crypt St John's. I had no idea about this. Neither did I know about the marvellous sculpture garden that surrounds the church. Of course, I will be investigating this further on a personal creative level.

A fabulous community project – check here for how to make some mosaics of your own
In nearby Roupell Street, one of the roads in the small conservation area nearby that I notice is being used as a location in the excellent second series of Unforgotten on ITV at the moment, I spotted some lovely old cars:

Classic cars in a great location – Three Citroëns and a Morris Minor

Nice eh?
Check out Peter's excellent walks and blog here.

17 January 2017

London Art Fair 2017, Business Design Centre, 18-22 January

Later this week Islington's old Agricultural Hall will again be the location for the London Art Fair, crammed full of all sorts of inspirational work, both old and new.

I make sure to visit at least once each year because there is so much to take in – this is not a nip in for one hour event as it is so varied.
My friend and I like to walk around slowly, taking it all in, spending imaginary vast sums of money on works of art for our imaginary reception rooms, guest wings and conservatories, though I have actually spent real money there – it's hard not to be tempted and, after all, a thing of beauty is a joy forever.

13 January 2017

Kings Cross ghostsigns and Pentonville Road

Last year I wrote about the Daily Express sign at Willesden and within that I alluded to signs for the Daily News.... Well, I believe I have found another one near The Poor School at Kings Cross.

Pentonville Road, Kings Cross
Shown above are three pics of what remains of a sign that would have had letters about 10ft tall. The first word is definitely 'DAILY'. The word underneath starts with an 'N' and I am pretty sure it would have been 'NEWS'. I'd be keen to find additional archive history and images about this area.
The fourth picture shows an attractive building on the end of a two-storey terrace between Penton Street and Hermes Street on Pentonville Road (this stretch features in the link above) – I have been watching this site to see what happens to these lovely two-storey because other swathes of nearby land are being developed as I write this.
Kings Cross Quarter with two artist impressions of the view and gardens 
For instance Regal Homes are in the process of creating "Kings Cross Quarter" (which quarter? top left/bottom right? What does this MEAN?!) between Cynthia Street and Rodney Street.
The fancy hoardings around the exterior of this development feature swanky letters and images that show views that will be available from probably only a quarter (ha ha, see what I did there?!) of the 118 properties within, a concierge reception area and an "exquisite private landscaped garden" (their words, not mine – check the pic above – so exquisite!). On the developer's selling site it says the apartments will be "created with luxury and functionality... highest quality finishes... Sumptuous and welcoming... perfectly designed". It's beyond me how an empty room devoid of furniture and furnishings can be luxurious or sumptuous. And the exterior will beige and bland. It looks like a clip-together child's toy to me. Beige. What's with all this beige when so many other colours are available?
And whilst I am on the subject of new build, what's going on with all this clip-on fake faded bricks that's appearing like some kind of disease? OK, so they are trying to keep the old brick 'feel' but couldn't they have manufactured them with interlocking 'teeth' edges so that they don't end up with all those straight vertical joins where the panels abut?
Anyway, enough of that... back to ghostsigns... to Kings Cross proper, by which I mean the junction in front of the station and, specifically, the end of Gray's Inn Road.

Gray's Inn Road, Kings Cross
We all know the sign for Scales, Weights & Weighing Machines above 319-321 (formerly 37 Chichester Place), but next time you are passing do stop and look closer at the rest of the terrace to the right of that and see that there are hints of letters peeping through here and there. After all, why would all those places be covered in paint if not to cover up something?
It's only a matter of time before more is revealed. Fingers crossed this happens before the decorators get twitchy.   Part of the painted sign on the 323 is visible here. I need to find some more reference on this to confirm my hunch. The Ladykillers original film features this junction and might throw some light on the matter.

10 January 2017

The Fabric of Smithfield

The area has changed so much and so quickly. I recall going to a venue on Charterhouse Street for a friend's birthday party one Saturday evening in 1996. I can't remember the name of the place – I went there quite a few times – it had a restaurant and bar on ground floor and a dance floor in the basement. We used to enjoy being in an area of London so close to so many things yet quiet and unknown by so many – it felt like we were in on something only the locals and the market traders knew anything about. But that soon changed with the arrival of Fabric in 1999 and very quickly the buildings around the market changed to cater for the change in clientele and the shift in the meat market trade.
There are still some lovely old buildings in the area. Look up and around you – there's lots to see.
Charterhouse Street – Top: Cold Storage, a Fabric lion and a ram at 79-83 with more from that building on the second row. 
Just along from the Italianate Cold Storage building on Charterhouse Street and next door to Fabric is the 1930s Meat Inspector's Office built in Portland stone with lovely reliefs of cattle and sheep with rams heads at street level.

Lindsey Street and Long Lane. Both buildings demolished for Crossrail.
Crossrail has demolished all the buildings in Lindsey Street along the Western side of the market. Nothing Crossrail erects here will ever compare to the charm of the exterior of Edmund Martin's tripe shop or the Art Deco exuberance of Saville House that used to sit on the corner of Long Lane. It's criminal that this could not have been incorporated into Crossrail's designs.
Moving round into Long Lane itself, the deco building at 51-52 (first pic below) is still there but at the time of writing is covered in scaffold and nettings.

Evans & Witt are still trade at No.58 (phew!). The Barley Mow at No.50 ceased trading as a pub in 2006 though the building and the old pub name at the top still remains.

The pics above were taken in Sept2016 of the Farringdon end of Charterhouse Street. The poultry market looking as if it's actually being used, though the caging/fencing belies that. Hart's still had it sign up for last Christmas' auction. I had assumed that this had been the last one and the sign had just been there ever since as a sad reminder. However, I just checked and can report they had the auction as usual last month. So all is not lost. The PLA building still stands as imposing as the day it was built there to keep an eye on imports and exports to/from the market.
For info on Smithfield Market and the immediate area click here.

I wrote a few months ago about the closure of two pubs in the Smithfield area. I also noticed that in a fond piece written by Giles Coren about A. A. Gill in the Saturday Times magazine a week after Gill died he was pictured in The Hope, one of the pubs mentioned above. It seemed a strange ironic choice of image to me.

6 January 2017

Bosworth and Naseby join Harold in Highbury

I recently noticed that three houses in Elwood Street, near Arsenal's old Highbury ground have some intriguing embellishments.

They have shields and faces of knights around the doors. And above the square bay windows are the names NASEBY, BOSWORTH and HAROLD.

The cartouche between the doors reads FCH which may be the initials of the developer who constructed these three properties

Note the castellations along the roof edges (pic from Google streeview)
I can only assume that the developer at the time (late Victorian?) was a history buff. Perhaps he was trying to commemorate some of England's most famous battles, but why show the locations of Naseby and Bosworth yet not have  Hastings/Battle on the last one rather than the name of the king who died there?
Any ideas anyone? 

3 January 2017

Stop! Don't Forgotten the Hustler Soap – a ghostsign in Harrow & Wealdstone

Nice eh?
Apart from the re-pointing that is.
The ad looks to be Edwardian and shows the shopkeeper on the left calling the customer on the right to come back. This was beautifully painted as per some of the old Gillette ads and Army Club and other figurative signs.
Here ia a leaflet from iside one of the soap packets that I found here :
Soap packet leaflet
In the mid-1920s the company was including collectors' cards into the packets featuring animals, transport, soldiers, regiments, birds etc.
I can find almost nothing about this product or the manufacturer. It seems that the company was affiliated or bought out in the 20s as the name then changed to Knight (Hustler Soap) which I assume to be John Knight of the Primrose Soap Works in Newham, London, maker of Royal Primrose Soap and Knight's Castile soap.
If you have any more info, do let me know.

31 December 2016

Follow the Light Trail at Kew Gardens 2016

Colourful loveliness.

Kew Gardens Christmas Lights Trail 2016
I especially loved the fields of colour-changing musical little balls on sticks, the large white lilies and some of the older trees such as Turner's Oak benefitting from some good lighting (second pic bottom row).
We went there on 29th Dec which if you recall was a really cold evening. Though a bonus was that the sprinkling of frost on the grass made another reflective panel for the colourful lights. See more pics here.
Here's a link to my last visit in 2013 which on reflection I think was a  more magical experience – I don't recall there being a small funfair or so many booths along the trail selling things such mulled wine, honey mead, marshmallows and gingerbread. Oh well, that's progress for you.
Nevertheless; it's a joy.
There are only two days left to see this though it looks to be fully booked so make a note in your diary for next year.
As we walked back towards the station we noticed Jack Frost had been busy making some amazing patterns on some of the cars. I haven't seen the like of that since the on my bedroom windows when I was a child.

Jack Frost woz ere

30 December 2016

A ghostsign above The Old Dairy

Here we go again... how come I have only recently been spotting ghostsigns that must have been there for decades?!
Considering I usually stop to admire the Old Dairy building, you think I would have noticed before last month that there is a faded sign above it to the right on Crouch Hill (originally part of Stroud Green Road).

The big name at the top looks to end in ROW and the word AGENTS is evident.
As usual, any ideas and information always welcome

21 December 2016

Yellow foam people – street art in Hornsey Road – by Kit (?)

Updated 27th Dec 2016 – see last paragraph

Over the past few weeks a community of devilish little foam men has been appearing around the junction of Grenville Road and Hornsey Road, London N19.

I first noticed these characterful people made from pipe lagging two weeks ago but it wasn't until yesterday that I had a chance to take some photos.
I think they are marvellous – they have so much personality. When I was taking these pics no one else in the busy street was paying them any attention. What is wrong with people?!
A couple of the original ones have already gone and others have been damaged such as the second one on the bottom row which in the first week was walking down the post and then last week he was doing some kind of circus pose (one limb having become unattached. Now he's legless and looks like he is clinging on for dear life!
Some have a Christmas theme – note the santa hats. One is hanging from a scaffold firing what looks like a ray gun or it might be spray paint – he has two canisters on his back and more in his thigh pockets. Another little foam fella is sat above the burned out shop lighting a cigarette with his face covered in soot.  The group of three angels/sprites is amazing and reminds me of the sprites in Midsummer Night's Dream.
I have no idea who made these artworks. Someone is evidently busy  at night time scaling ladders armed with cable ties. I have googled and come up with nothing. I went into the upholsterer's on the corner of Grenville Road but the girl at the desk didn't have a clue about the artworks and neither did she seem to care much and those three fabulous angels are right outside her window! I am now wondering if Deti's Deli Cafe might be involved seeing as one of the yellow fellas is walking down the wall following arrows to there.
Hmmm... This needs more investigation. I will keep returning to this junction to see if more little yellow men appear and will post pics and updates here.
Whoever is doing this, I salute you. Thanks for brightening up the world with street art that does not deface or damage anything.

On Christmas Eve I noticed the name Kit at the foot of the smoking man – see pic to the right. Perhaps this has been there for ages and I missed it before. 
I asked the man who runs the convenience store below if he knew who Kit was and he says he thinks it's a customer who uses the shop.
I have an idea that Kit the creator lives above the shops near the carpet store... am I right?  Do tell.... ;-)

13 December 2016

Beans Express Carriers Ghostsign on City Road

This post has been updated
How long have I been walking and bussing past this and not noticed it?! I only spotted it in November when hunting for signs to use for my Angel Islington card. Has it been covered up or has it been there hidden in plain sight all this time?

I doubt the wording "BEANS EXPRESS CARRIERS" is about beans in the green or baked sense; perhaps this was a company called Beans who were offering an efficient courier/delivery service.
Look closely and see that EXPRESS is written twice here hinting that the sign has been repainted at least once. Also the smaller EXPRESS wording and CARRIERS are rendered in a different style to the larger BEANS EXPRESS; thay have drop shadows on a darker panel which may suggest that this part of the sign is a later addition, perhaps for a different company whose name has faded away over time.
Any further ideas and feedback welcome.
Lots more cards here

7 December 2016

Ideas about a tiled doorway at The Hot Wok, 265 Caledonian Road, N1

You are probably already aware that I like to find nice old tiles or mosaics especially with the original company name embedded within them. Here is a link to a particularly good collection I put together earlier this year.
This post is about a tiled doorway in Caledonian Road

The lovely green and cream tiles in this particular entrance are approx 100 years old and are in stark contrast to the fast food outlet that these days occupies the ground floor here.
The mosaic doorway has been as good as vandalised by subsequent owners; the first word having been obliterated, but in a half-arsed way. Surely it would have been easier just to have covered the whole thing?!
I know that a while back this shop was a butcher's but I am pretty sure this was not the primary owner.
I have been looking at this today trying to work out what name could have been on the top line. It's clearly a short name of only four or five letters ending in "ts".... but where is the possessive apostrophe? Surely a family name as in Evan's Stores or similar would make better sense?
But hold the front page!  I may be onto something here!!
I was just about to ask for ideas but just as I wrote the above and studied the shape of the first letter I had a "Eureka!" moment...
I believe it starts with a "B" and so it's very possible that this could be an old Boot's the Chemist Store.
See below for ref of Boots old logo and signage; it's a strong possibility.

As well as photos of old ghostsigns I also old tins which include the ones shown here illustrating how Boots changed adapted their logo using 'Chemists' or 'Drug Co Ltd' within the underscore.
Hmmm... I'm now thinking the shop doorway name doesn't have an underscore under the first word and I might be totally wrong here.
What do you think? Could it be a Boots Store? Do you have other ideas or, better still, some facts... please do get in touch.

I have a collection of other mosaic obliterations. I will collect them together and save them for another day.

5 December 2016

A Wooden Cover Plate in Tollington Park

Strolling along Tollington Park, a lovely road in N4, last week I happened across a large rectangular cover plate within the pavement that was, and still is, wooden on its uppermost face. I have never seen such a thing before.
I thought at first this was the secondary layer; the metal and concrete lid having been removed but, no, on close inspection it can be seen that the wood is flush with the pavement.
Walking further along the pavement, that's sidewalk to my readers in the States ;-), I noticed that it was the same dimensions at the old BT ones that have the pebble-dashed tops, see above bottom right.
So, this means underneath that eroded wooden top with holes in it there are wires and all sorts of circuit doobreys for telephones.
Is this OK?
I assume so, seeing as the wood appears to have been exposed to the elements for quite some time already.
Hmmm... pondering...

30 November 2016

Christmas Lights Switch On – Fonthill Road, Finsbury Park – Thursday 1st December

I hope this event will be as colourful as the poster. This area just behind Finsbury Park Station has been gradually upping its game these past few years with lots of yummy food places, funky second hand clothes, art galleries and, of course those great wig shops in Stroud Green Road.
This one-day event will take place in Fonthill Road starting at 2.30pm and ending at 7pm. I will have a stall there selling my cards and prints and these will include Islington, Haringey, Arsenal and Hornsey Baths images, plus my Christmas adaptations.  
More info here.

Three samples from the Arsenal range
Many more stripey collections available
On the following day, Friday 2nd December, there will be a small lighting-up event aimed mainly at children up at Archway Mall, 3.30–5.15pm (no stalls) followed next weekend by Caledonian Road's event on Saturday 10th Dec from 11am–5pm – another colourful street festival organised by #TheCallyMarket  (I will be trading at this one too).
Despite living just around the corner from the Hags Head Shopping Centre and junction in Holloway, I am not aware if Islington Council will be organising their yearly Christmas Extravaganza – an overblown name for a rather low-key and under-publicised event. Your guess is as good as mine.

25 November 2016

Read about my cards and prints in today's Islington Tribune

#IslingtonTribune – Available free from many Islington outlets.

Click here for the online version of this article

For info of other ways to buy from me please see "Cards and Prints" at top right of this blog.