10 January 2018

Susan Hiller at Tate Modern and Postman's Park

In a ground floor Tank gallery at Tate Modern I noticed a montage of photographed wall tiles. Recognising them I stopped to read the info board:

"... Victorian memorial plaques she came across in a London park"
No recognition has been made as to where the original marvellous handmade tiles can actually be found.
Susan's photographs are arranged in nothing like the same configuration that they are in their actual location and the quality of the prints looks to be a bit dark and over-inked. It amused me to see that people visiting the gallery are taking photos of these photos. Go figure. 
For those of you who don't know, these Doulton tablets form part of Watts memorial within Postman's Park, a stone's throw from St Paul's.
I took some photos of them a while back when I'd gone to enjoy the peace and quiet in this lovely little garden space and have put six of them together here – does this make me an artist?

5 January 2018

Update on the old Whittington Park mural

A couple of years ago I took my friend Jen, to Whittington Park to show her an old mural that had become obscured by plants. Read about that here.

This was all we could discern in July 2015
Well, twixt Christmas and New Year's Day I went to check on it again. As you'd expect, the spray can graffiti-ers have been busy. I couldn't make out the images above but I found some others.

Lucky Kelsey!
Two schoolchildren with backpacks and a figure [possibly] climbing over a wall
Toffee tin lid
Whittington Park, just south of Upper Holloway Station, is named after Richard/Dick of the turnaround-Lord-Mayor story. Jen's an expert on Dick Whittington and leads a fascinating guided tour about the great man within the City of London. I gave her this old toffee tin a few years back as a present and she uses it as a prop on the walk. Check here for updates or contact her for more details.
See also Dick Whittington's Cat – a previous blog post

2 January 2018

Puzzled by a London Puzzle at Christmas

Last week, on Christmas Day afternoon, I cleared the table, poured the wine, and got to work on a PuzzleMap jigsaw of London that I'd found whilst rummaging at a charity sale last summer.
I am happy to report that all the pieces were in the box but, oh boy did I find some other things amiss.

The completed puzzle – 1000 pieces, 19"x27"
Having looked online at reviews for this item people say they really enjoyed doing the puzzle but found the image on the box lid hard to follow because it shows additional map at the left and right sides.
Well, never mind that, dear WordSearchers, you should be more concerned with the inaccuracy of the place- and road-names and the confusion as to why so many insignificant streets, parks and locations have been identified as worthy for inclusion yet other, more important places, have been omitted, and where are the tube station signs for Oxford Circus, Bond Street, Chancery Lane and Hyde Park Corner? Ditto Marylebone and Fenchurch Street rail stations? Did they just fall off the map?!

A crash (one of many) at the junction of Lyall Street and Chester Row.  South Kensington tube stain has been renamed (who knew?) and there optional spellings for the Jameses. In the fourth pic four street names include extra/repeated letters: Roseberry St (+r), Skinnner St (+n), Centrral St (+r) and St. Johns St (+s).
Barnard Park is depicted as a very important district in North London, almost as big as Islington, and Barnsbury Rd has been mis-named Barnsbury St, a silly error because there is a Barnsbury Street further north which runs east-west. In central London alternative spellings are given for the gallery and the body of water that separates the parks, and South Carriage Drive has been mis-named as Carriage Rd. The third pic shows Leather St and Halton Gdn which everyone knows should be Leather Lane and Hatton Garden. Note also in that pic that Stanland Street, a quiet back street, has been selected for inclusion. Ditto Jockey's Fields (which needs no possessive). The last pic shows examples of names without Rd/St/Av endings; Marshalsea (Rd) and Tabard (St) – I could have included plenty more pics of those; Bressenden (Gdns), Grt Percy (St), Appold (St), Wood (St), Vauxhall (St), Lombard (St)...
More errors include (with the correct spelling in brackets), Townshed Rd (Townshend), Edgeware Station (Edgware), Stanland St (Sandland) Plender Rd should be St and, probably my favourite, Long Acre St (delete St).
You probably think I have studied the whole thing like a pedantic sub-editor with a fine-tooth comb – Nope! – I just noticed these things as I was doing it. It wasn't until I'd spotted about ten, when I had barely completed half of the puzzle, that I started jotting them down and then taking photos – this explains the changes in picture quality depending on available light at the time. I have spotted errors mainly in the central and north-east areas because I am not so knowledgeable about the south and south-west, so there must be lots more I don't know about.
I wonder, how did all these silly errors slip though the net? It is fairly evident to me that it wasn't checked before it was printed. Existing maps such as the A-Z can't just be scanned and copied; there are copyright issues and so this had to be redrawn from scratch and, I suggest, in a hurry. Perhaps some of the mis-spellings might actually be mis-hearings with one person shouting the street names to another who typed them onto the map. Or, perhaps it was created as a task on The Apprentice?!!

The blurb on the box, and online, reads: 
  • Learn the layouts of famous cities piece by piece as you assemble our PuzzleMaps with friends and family. 
  • Perhaps you are planning a trip and want to orient yourself before you go, or perhaps you want to remind yourself of favorite corners and neighborhoods you have explored on foot.  
  • The perfect gift for the person planning a first trip or the world traveler who knows a world class city from the ground up. 
  • Made from high quality laminated paper board
  • PuzzleMaps will challenge the best puzzlers, inspire curious minds interested in far off places and delight world travelers.
  • PuzzleMaps are made from post-consumer recycled material
Is it me, or does last bullet seem to contradict the fourth?
You may have noticed the American spellings here and on the map itself such as Av as the abbreviation for Avenue – we Brits prefer to use Ave. Design Ideas Limited, the company that produced this puzzle, is indeed American and, according to the box, is based in Springfield*, Illinois. But they must have internet access over there and they must have access to maps of London. It's inexcusable. Though quite amusing too.
I am going to leave the finished puzzle on my table for a while yet – it sort of pleases me in a supercilious "I know better" way. Perhaps I'll write to Design Ideas and suggest that it could form the basis if another type of puzzle all on its own; a sort of cartographic spot-the-diffence as part of a range called MapMistakes or StreetSearch...?!

*Incidentally, Springfield is not just home of the Simpsons, it's [something like] one of the most common town names in the U.S. – probably why Matt Groening chose to use it. 

20 December 2017

More seasonal stuff

Last night I went to see Cinderella at Hackney Empire.
Well... what can I say... but WOW!  What an absolute delight. A joy.
It's on until 31st December and I urge you to go see it too.
What's not to like?
Old time entertainment with a modern twist inside one of our loveliest theatres. Designed by the ubiquitous Frank Matcham, it opened in 1901 and was saved from demolition in 1986.
View from my seat in the Dress Circle
And then more fun and sparkles to be sampled this Friday evening when I will join a group of friends  at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
Thumbs up from 2016
Last year we'd sort of tested it out as a "why not? It's free!" idea but we had such a nice time hanging about enjoying the atmosphere that we've decided to do it all again this year. We'll be convening at the quieter bar near the fire pit, marked F16 on the WW map, from 6.30pm onwards. Do come and find us – as they say, "the more, the merrier".

Note: WW is free to enter, walk about and go to the bars etc but, of course, there are charges for the rides, experiences and entertainments.

13 December 2017

Festive events South, North and East

I should've written about the first two of these before they happened, not after. Then again, you wouldn't get to see the photos.
Late afternoon on Friday 1st December I joined some lovely creative people and the children from a couple of Southwark schools for a lantern procession around the area led by Old Father Thames and a small but very loud samba drum band. Oh it was lovely. See more here.

The route took us through residential estates, along lovely backstreets and into local parks whilst Old Father Thames told us the stories about the Thames freezing over, extra-large ice cubes and a skating elephant. See more pics here. The event was organised by Emergency Exit Arts.

Another samba band!
Two days later, on Sunday December 3rd, I was up on the new piazza adjacent to Archway tube station for an event organised by Islington Council. There was music and singing and all sorts of entertainment. The Christmas lights were turned on and we finally found out that the new name for the piazza is Navigator Square. This was decided by local people voting for their favourite from a shortlist of five names. The winning name is in recognition of the [mostly] Irish navigators, better known as navvies, who worked so hard to build the area and its roads.
Now all we need is for the underground toilets on the piazza to be re-opened and I suggest the new name for them could be the Navvy Lavvies.

Looking forward...
Talking about Christmas markets and events – tomorrow evening 4.30–9.30pm there will be a one-off Winter Night Market with lost of lovely stall selling all sorts of lovely things, just off Hanbury Street, London E1 (between Brick Lane and Spitalfields Market).
One of the stalls will be selling Christmas tree earrings and decorations, as shown in the row of pics above, as well as other jewellery and cards made from clay pipes foraged from the River Thames foreshores.
Do come along and say hello.

11 December 2017

Christmas Lights in London

'Tis the season to be jolly and all that
Last week I posted about the Archway switch on, one of many local events that took place last weekend. 
Larger displays can be found along some of the major shopping streets in the West End and they are just lovely this year, with barely any silly branding or commercial theme. So last night my friend Jen and I made good use of a pair of tickets for The Original Bus Tour's Christmas Lights Tour to be able to get a closer look at them.
We boarded the bus in Coventry Street, donned our free Santa hats and made use of the much-needed blankets – this was the snowy day and brr it was cold on that open top deck!

The tour is restricted by the routes the company is actually permitted to use – and so it takes a circuitous route to get to Regent Street, goes up that road, loops back and then goes back down it again. And that's about it. The Regent Street lights are indeed lovely, bu they are the same all the way along so once you get to Oxford Circus and go back again it all seems a bit repetitive.
We did enjoy ourselves (we  normally do!) but an adult ticket is a whopping £15 which I think is rather steep for just 45 minutes – even if I was new to London I think I would have been disappointed that the only lights I saw on the tour were the ones pictured on the leaflet. On the plus side, it must be said that the guide on the night was marvellous. He obviously enjoys his job, sharing his love and knowledge of London with the people on board.  
Sorry tour bus guys, thanks for the tickets and all that, but I suggest that these lights can be just as easily viewed from the top deck of any normal bus service that goes along Regent Street for a fraction of the cost.
Some of the best Christmas lights are in the smaller shopping streets that are not on bus routes and these are better seen on foot. I recommend a walking tour of London's Christmas lights – my friend Joanna leads a marvellous food-related lights tour in the West End that includes Carnaby Street, St Christopher's Place and Bond Street. Jo gives out freebies too but they are not branded hats! Booking for Jo's walk here. If you do book, please be sure to mention that you saw it here first ;-)

Back to the big displays – last week I went to Kew Gardens to see the marvellous lighting installations there – I am not going to show any photos because it would ruin the surprise and delight for you, but my favourite thing there, apart from the beautifully lit majestic old trees, was the Singing Trees – a simple yet wonderfully evocative section of the walk. The whole route is just delightful because you can wander about at your own pace. Be sure to watch the whole show projected onto the Palm House at the end of the trail.
Again, please try not to look at the photos of it before you go. For reference please see my post about last year's trail here. On until new Year's Day – book here.

The future is looking bright 
It doesn't all end at Christmas – the lights continue into January...
Lumiere London, January 18-21 – various sites in central London – see here for my review of 2016 
Winter Lights at Canary Wharf, 16-27 January – see here for pics etc of 2017

5 December 2017

North London Polytechnic, Holloway Road – compare and contrast

I was just tidying up my photo archive and rediscovered a folder called Holloway Road Then and Now from when I was taking comparison pics and writing about them here. In that folder I found a group of four pics I had put together of the London Metropolitan University buildings.
Looking at the collection now it's easy to get distracted doing a sort of spot-the-difference.

c1910 vs 2013
The North London Polytechnic was established in 1896, a period I refer to as the Heyday of Holloway.  This Victorian seat of learning was built "to promote the industrial skill, general knowledge, health and well-being of young men and women belonging to the poorer classes of Islington [and] to provide for the inhabitants of Islington and the neighbouring parts of north London, and especially for the Industrial Classes, the means of acquiring a sound General, Scientific, Technical and Commercial Education at small cost".
Only one of the buildings from that period now remains as The Rocket Complex echoing its past as The Great Hall (b1897) opened by the then Lord Mayor of London and used for social and academic events. It's sad to see how a lot of the architectural embellishments have been removed over the years, however, on the plus side, the clocks at the top are usually correct, which is handy.
The various university buildings feature for different reasons on a couple of my walking tours

Oh and by the way, the vintage clothing shop, now called Blue 17, by the bus stop (where the AA van is in the pic) is marvellous, one of the best around – do pop in and have a look – though be warned that it's hard to come out empty-handed.

2 December 2017

Archway Christmas Lights Switch On Event – tomorrow Sunday December 3rd

The new space next to Archway Station will be filled full of stalls and entertainment tomorrow – and they'll finally be announcing the name of the piazza.

I'll be there selling my Archway and Islington Christmas cards plus my tree decorations and earrings too... ooh!
Stalls will be set up by noon though the event is officially 1.00-5.30pm. Do come and say hello and join in the  festive fun. 
I'll also be in the same location the next three weekends as part of #ArchwayMarket on Saturdays 9th, 16th and 23rd, 11-5pm.

Seasonal cards and gifts available from my stall

1 December 2017

Today – Frozen In Time procession – Blackfriars, London SE1

I do love a good procession or parade.
And this one promises a "gigantic metal animation".
I stupidly missed that big elephant in Trafalgar Square about eight years ago and I really miss the wonderful parades that used to happen at the end of the Thames festival every September, so let's hope this makes up for it.
See you there.
Parade: 4.30–7pm
Nearest tubes: Borough, Southwark
More info here

From six of my Blackfriars Road photos

28 November 2017

Freightliners Farm

It never ceases to amaze me how many people who live in Holloway don't know that this is here.

I am here only showing images of the lovely tiled panels on the exterior wall but the other side of the wall is a marvellous surprise. Being a farm, it is more of a hands-on experience and to hard to capture in photos.
This "community space in the heart of Islington" has lots to see and experience for all ages. And a fab café too.
Go find out for yourself or come and discover it on one of my walking tours and find out about many more green places and things in the area.

Info: Freightliners Farm.

21 November 2017

Melancholia: A Sebald Variation – an exhibition at Somerset House

Melancholia: A Sebald Variation is a marvellous thought-provoking exhibition hidden away in the Inigo Rooms within the East Wing at Somerset House.
It's really worth checking it out. I stumbled upon it by accident last month and ended up spending quite a while in there.

The exhibition, presented by King’s College and curated by John-Paul Stonard and Lara Feigel, takes the writings of W.G. Sebald (1944-2001) as a starting point for an exploration of melancholia in European art and culture. Inspired in particular by Sebald’s 1997 publication On The Natural History of Destruction, this exhibition sees works by international contemporary artists set alongside images documenting the destruction of Germany in WW2, as well as W.G. Sebald’s own manuscripts and peculiar photography collection.
Highlights include: Albrecht Dürer’s famous print Melencolia I (1514) which is on loan from the British Museum, never before exhibited photographs by Anselm Kiefer, made in the 1980s, depicting aircraft constructed out of sheets of lead taken from the roof of Cologne cathedral,  Tacita Dean’s Our Europe and eye-witness drawings by Wilhelm Rudolph of the smouldering ruins of Dresden here in Britain for the first time. There are also some works that have been specially commissioned for the exhibition.
Make sure you have the time to watch Guido van der Werve’s award-winning endurance-art film project Nummer Vierteen: Home, 2012 – a fabulously compelling piece that lasts 50 minutes – it's worth finding out what time the screening starts so as to be able to see it from the beginning. And I'd also recommend taking time to watch the video of an interview between W.G. Sebald and Susan Sontag.
Until 10th December 
Tues–Sat: 11:30–17:30
Wednesday lates until 19:30
Sundays 14:30–17:30

13 November 2017

Diary of a Nobody at Kings Head Theatre – Avoid avoid!!

No pics with this post – just a review about what I had hoped would be an interesting twist on a much-loved book; a book I have read four times.

Last week I sent out a missive to customers who have been on my guided walks:
"As you know, one of my walks is all about how the Nag's Head area of Holloway and how it looked in its late Victorian heyday when George and Weedon Grossmith's comic character Mr Pooter "lived" there (here!).
I thought you might be interested to know that there is a play on at the King's Head Theatre at the moment that is based on the book. It runs until Saturday 18th.
I am just about to book my own ticket – perhaps I will see you there...?"

I went with two friends to see the play on Friday night. Oops. I'd spoken, I'd promoted, too soon. I could have stayed at home and clipped my toenails. Or enamelled the bath.
I should stick to my guns and only write about the things I have seen or experienced in person, because I had to again write to those same people:
"... Evelyn Waugh is quoted in the production's blurb as saying this is/was "the funniest book in the world". This quote needs to be put into context – bear in mind that Waugh's own characters, such as in Decline and Fall, are subtlely observed, hence why he would have loved DOAN as being in the same vein.
This particular adaptation is for people who like their old favourites updated, amended and added to, in this case using an inane mix of Victorian genteel and 20thC swearing, with a quite confusing mix of characters played by just four actors. I have read the book four times and I thought the first half hour of the play in particular was painfully fast.  
If, like me, you like the book's gentle comic style then be prepared to sit straight-faced all the way through the play wondering the other half of the audience is finding so damn laugh-out-loud-as-loud-as-you-
can-to-prove-you-get-the-joke-hilarious.  During the interval I wondered whether to bother going back inside. It got worse, not better.
But, hey, if you haven't read the book you might actually enjoy this as a piece of fun, jolly theatre.
On a positive note, the stage sets and costumes are good."
Note that the two friends I went to see the play with concurred. As we exited the theatre we three were numb, our ears having suffered one particular audience members' outrageously loud whooping and whoa-ing. We were all unusually stunned into silence by it all; it wasn't even worth a post-mortem so we said goodnight and all went home in different directions.
I am reminded that the play was serialised on the BBC a few years back with Hugh Bonneville in the title role – that too was very HA HA HA. Everyone seems to be missing the point. I wonder what the brothers Grossmith would make of all this...?

8 November 2017

What is Whitebait? Read Roger Williams's book and find out more

Whitebait – a tasty fishstarter?
Or evil selective fishing?
And what exactly is a whitebait anyway?

Find out more in this wonderfully informative and absorbing little book by the marvellous Roger Williams.
Available here and here.
Roger's other books include The Temples of London, London's Lost Global Giant: in search of the East India Company, Father Thames and The Fisherman of Halicarnassus.

Also see Hugh's Fish Fight

31 October 2017

Dick Whittington's Cat

Turn around turn around Lord Mayor of London.
For almost 700 years people have been relating the story about how young Dick Whittington was leaving London after realising the streets weren't actually paved with gold after all and, when climbing what is now Highgate Hill, he heard the sound of Bow bells calling him, predicting a bright future.
He is often depicted dressed like Errol Flynn in Robin Hood mode, carrying his meagre belongings tied in a handkerchief knotted onto a stick, accompanied by a cat, usually a black.
The Archway area has a few places named after the man which include the hospital and health centre and a park (see my last post). And it was whilst walking through the park last week that I thought to put this cat collection together.

The memorial to the story now sits just up from Magdala Avenue on Highgate Hill but as shown in this c1910 postcard the railed-in cat used to be sited outside the original Whittington and Stone public house on the corner of Macdonald Road. It stayed there well into the 1960s as shown by the third pic.
A fabulous view of Whittington Hospital's metal cat sculpture and beyond can be seen from the outpatients department. The Whittington and Cat public house on Highgate Hill has been converted into flats but branded lettering still hangs on for dear life. The last pic is of a lovely old toffee tin I gave my friend Jen as a present because she lives near here.
Three cats from Whittington Park, all very close to the main Holloway Road entrance; topiary, tiles and wall art.
Read about Dick Whittington here.

Update (Dec6th): My good friend Jen Pedler is now leading a marvellous guided tour all about Mr Whittington – 90-minutes long, starting and ending at Bank tube station. Booking here.

24 October 2017

Richmond Lock and Weir Draw-off – Low tide on the Thames – 29th October to 19th November 2017

Each year the tidal Thames is allowed to rise and fall naturally between Richmond and Teddington locks, so that the Port of London Authority can carry out essential maintenance on those locks and other infrastructure such as the weirs and sluices.
The extremely low tide this creates gives an opportunity to enjoy rare views of the Thames. This year the draw-off will happen in the three weeks between 29th October and 19th November.
In 2015 I went to see this with some friends, in fact we ended up walking from Richmond to Chiswick Strand via Isleworth and Brentford and it was a great day out*.

The low tide effect was especially good at Isleworth, as shown in the last eight pics, where we gained access to the river at the boat ramp (or whatever it's called) and saw one of those special foreign geese in amongst the regular ones (bottom left). It was really strange and special to be standing almost in the middle of a river.
It's also a good opportunity for a tidy up and local people and environmental groups gather to clear the river of harmful plastic and other litter.
PLA's notice to mariners regarding safety etc

*Except for trying to find Gunnersbury Station at the end – this must be the most well-hidden, hardest-to-access station in London... unless you can think of other contenders for that crown...?

19 October 2017

Whittington Park Cafe – colourful, tasty and great value for money

Wandering through Whittington Park yesterday morning on my way home from my osteopath I popped into the Whittington Community Centre on Yerbury Road to drop off some leaflets about my walks but with a rumbly in my tumbly I decided to stop for sustenance in the cafe.
And I am so glad I did – I am quite fussy about my coffee – I like it strong and black and usually ask for a double espresso with hot water on the side so I can top it up to just the right mount. The lovely lady behind the counter did that for me and it was perfect. Add a slice of the most delicious bread pudding ever and the bill was a measley £3.00.  Why do people frequent chain cafés when fab places like this are so much nicer, so much friendlier and so much better value for money?

My pics here do not do the place justice – lots to do, lots to see and all in the lovely setting of Whittington Park.
Click here to find out more info about the community centre.

10 October 2017

Guided Walks in Islington led by Yours Truly

I wrote recently about how I'd spent much of the first six months of this year doing a course to become a Clerkenwell and Islington guide and how last month I collected my badge and a surprise award for the best designed walk. See here.

I have since led five walking tours and have thoroughly enjoyed sharing the knowledge that I have gleaned through years of research. Many thanks to the lovely people who gave me such favourable feedback.
The award-winning Nags Head, Holloway, walk has recently had a name change – it now references George and Weedon Grossmith's comic character in Diary of a Nobody, but the walk content remains the same.

Looking forward, this weekend I will be leading a tour called The Only Way Is Essex Road on Saturday 14th then on Sunday 15th I'll be walking the full length of Holloway Road talking about thirty pubs along the route including three short refreshment stops.
Also see my Green and Pleasant Islington tour – a stroll which takes us off the main road into places a stone's throw away that many Islingtonians don't even realise are there.

Dates for all of my walks are listed in the Guided Tours section on this site.
Imminent tours can be booked through Eventbrite here.
Hope to see you soon,

5 October 2017

Take One Picture – creatve inspiration for schoolchildren at The National Gallery

My last post was about the Degas exhibition at the National Gallery. If you do go to see that, or even if you don't, walk through the adjacent gift shop where some excellent and competitively-priced Degas-themed merchandise is available, to a room full of art made my schoolchildren.
When visiting the National gallery I often see groups of small uniformed people sat in front of a painting listening to a teacher or drawing, and I wonder what they are up to. Well, now I understand what's going on; it appears children are shown a painting, this year it's A Roman Triumph by Peter Paul Rubens, and are then encouraged to write about and/or create some kind of art based on their observations. 

Marvellous artwork across the ages. I especially love the elephants and the white ceramics. Bottom right is from a video where children are performing a play inspired by the sacrifice and slaughter depicted in Rubens' painting.
The cross-section of results shown in this room is delightful and shows we have some great future artists running around our playgrounds.
Take One Picture was launched in 1995, yet stumbling on this room last week was the first I knew about it. Probably because I don't have children. I wish similar things were available when I was a child. I'd have been proverbial pig in the dirty stuff.
Lots more educational stuff in the Learning section of the National Gallery's website.

3 October 2017

Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell – National Gallery until May 2018

Last week I was invited along to the press view of a lovely Degas exhibition in the basement of the National Gallery – it's the first time this collection of twenty Degas pastels has been shown outside of Scotland. 

During the curator's tour I found out so much about Degas – his unusual techniques and his innovative ideas that effectively helped to mould the art of the future. Degas might have dressed in a conventional way but in his art he was definitely not a conformist and was always experimenting with new techniques to achieve the effect he wanted. It's even been suggested that his methods of composition, arranged from his hundreds of sketches to depict a snapshot in time, actually pre-date photography.
This gorgeous exhibitionion is free and runs until May 2018 so there is plenty of time to see it.

29 September 2017

A View of St Pauls from Bankside – 1917 and 2017

Earlier this year I bought a marvellous trial proof of an etching by Leslie Moffat Ward, entitled "Before St Paul's". It shows the a 1917 view of St Paul's from Bankside.
That means it's one hundred years old.

Intrigued by this major milestone I took some photos in an effort to compare Leslie's view with what we have today; first from the riverside and then from the terrace at that arty place.
On that day I had been to see the Giacometti exhibition which I was sad to discover was ultimately disappointing – so much repetition. It appears the poor man got stuck in a rut.
As for the converted power station, I have written about it in the past – it has now been open for 17 years and still there is no signage to direct the visitor to where the bloody art is and still it feels foreboding like an institution or cold-hearted work environment. It's a vast shed of a place with no humanity. And when you buy your tickets that's all you get; a ticket. No verbal directions, no leaflet – just a diagram on the wall that looks like something from the Crystal Maze.
I really don't like that art has to be commissioned to fill the central space. I am told that the "ooh look at me; I'm so arty and deconstructed" extension at the rear offers great views (yawn) but in my view they wouldn't have needed to spend all that dosh on a damn extension had they made proper use of the gaping hole in the building that's already there.
Back to Leslie Moffat Ward – that's art that is. Back to the comparison images – look at how busy the foreshore was back then compared to today's view – gone are the boats, the workmen and almost all of the old riverside buildings. I find this such a shame. I would love to be able to time travel for a while to see and experience for myself what it was like back then.
It's been commented how similar in style Leslie's work is to his contemporaries, namely William Lionel Wyllie, Noel Woodward Spencer and William Walcot.
Many other lovely etchings, sketches and paintings can be found at Atelier – the gallery specialises in artworks that feature London, as well as Paris, New York and Venice and the Channel Islands (the gallery is in Jersey). On the same day I purchased the LMW proof I also snapped up a wonderfully evocative Longstaff etching of Trafalgar Square.
I am really tempted by a few others... see you at the next art fair...

26 September 2017

Free Lectures at Gresham College, Holborn

Earlier this month I went to the London Historians' annual lecture at Gresham College, a stone's throw from Chancery Lane underground station.
I got there early and found the doors weren't open yet so I had a look around the outside spaces at the rear and noticed a modern Mercers Maiden on both sides of the archway to a modern office building.

Sorry for the appalling quality of these snaps – I only had my phone with me and the light was not good.
The stylised modern maiden is shown top left, above. Close to her within the courtyard there is another maiden which looks more like the ones in Covent Garden. Another colourful maiden can be found just as you enter the lecture hall.
In the courtyard there are also carved plaques and date stamps for Watney and Baden Powell.
Go and check them out for yourself when you attend on of the excellent free lectures.
Mercers maidens are the mark of the Mercers Livery Company and can be spotted all over London in some very strange and unexpected places – I must put a collection together soon.

21 September 2017

Footprints Of London Literary Festival 2017 – at least one guided walk every day in October

Get your diary out; this is going to take some planning...

Footprints of London are offering more than 50 literary-themed guided walks throughout October.
It's sort of like a walking book club – Footprints' qualified and experienced guides lead you through the pages of London’s literary history to see the places you might only have visited in your imagination; where some of the nation’s best beloved novels and poems are set, where the authors’ inspiration was born.

A you can by the calendar above, you can meet George Orwell in Soho, Wilkie Collins in Marylebone and Samuel Pepys in the City. You'll be able to hear from William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and T S Eliot and follow in the footsteps of fictional characters such as Mrs Dalloway and Sherlock Holmes. Or explore the literary connections of districts like Covent Garden, Bloomsbury and Chelsea.
For full details and how to book, please visit the Footprints website.

“I love walking in London,” said Mrs. Dalloway. “Really it’s better than walking in the country.”  

Leaflet design and artwork by Yours Truly

18 September 2017

All Offers Considered

Last weekend I spent two days in Lewis Cubitt Square, Kings Cross trying to sell off some of the bric-a-brac I have somehow amassed over years at the Classic Car Boot Sale. Apparently the green Roller I was paired with belongs to a famous artist. He wasn't there though; a friend of his was borrowing it for the weekend.

Markets like these are lively events but I have now had enough and the two pics of me in the bottom row, above, sort of say it all – doing stalls etc is fun but it's just so tiring, so energy-sapping. All I want to do at the end of each day is have a bath, eat comfort food, stare at rubbish on the TV and then go to bed early.
I have therefore decided no more markets of this kind for me – my achy old bones can't take it any more and in a couple of weeks I will be eBay-ing what's left at very low starting prices. I can't even be bothered to do a carboot sale!
If there is anything in the pics above that catches your eye (excluding me, the car and the cards) do contact me and make me an offer. And there's plenty more stuff not shown... grunt...

15 September 2017

I am now a Clerkenwell and Islington badge flasher

It's been official since I passed the last exam on July 15th but I now have physical proof. Yesterday I went with my fellow classmates and tutors to Islington Town Hall where the Mayor of Islington, Councillor Una O'Halloran, presented us with our certificates and badges.

A few special prizes were also handed out and I was surprised, and really pleased, to get the award for "Best Walk Design" this being the Nags Head tour I lead for the first time earlier this week. More dates for this walk and others will be added very soon once I have sorted out a diary/calendar.
Hope to see you soon.

11 September 2017

A time-travelling guide of the Holloway Nags Head area

This evening I will be leading a guided tour around the area of Holloway known as Nags Head.
I will be explaining how pre-WW1 this district was known as The Oxford Street of the North.

Holloway details
More info here.
More dates to be very announced soon, plus other walks in the Islington area covering Archway, Highbury, Upper Street, Essex Road, A1 pubs and more...
Watch this space and/or click on Guided Tours in the bar under the Jane's London masthead or enter "janeslondon" into the search box on Eventbrite.

Hope to see you soon.

Update (Wed 13th Sept): It was, from my point of view, a big success, despite the torrential downpour in the last five minutes. Thanks to all who came along and made it so enjoyable. Hope to see you all again soon, perhaps on one of my other walks.