25 May 2010

Luther; a wonderfully preposterous TV cop drama

I was a bit late finding Luther. I watched the first two episodes back-to-back on iPlayer and was hooked. Idris Elba, in the title role, is great. And Ruth Wilson, as Alice, is sublime. Paul McGann must be good too, because I despise him in it.
It's all so ridiculous that it's compelling. And I love recognising all the different places around London, like Blackfriars Bridge and Daniel Libeskind's building in Hollway Road, used as a place where Paul Rhys's creepy character held a press conference. Also interesting that his character's macabre art gallery was at 73 Leonard Street, an address that I am sure a company I used to work for moved to. The Shoreditch area, specifically Leonard Street, is used a lot in the programme and is in real life littered with art and art galleries, one place even has a suitable macabre name to tie in to this piece.
Top row: Cornhill, Old Broad Street, Leonard Street, Little Newport Street.
Middle row: Leonard Street, The Blackfriars pub, Holloway Road, Upper Street
Bottom row: Blackfriars Bridge above and below, Praed Street, Bow Street Police Station

21 May 2010

Museum of London's Galleries of Modern London opening soon

I am a friend of the Museum of London and last night I went to the private view of the new Galleries of Modern London in advance of the official opening (this Thursday 28th May).
It was all a bit too much as there is so much to see; it's all laid out and arranged so well. The interactive screens and 'touch tables' are really informative and impressive.
I especially liked a room papered with Booth's poverty map where you can zoom in on different areas on the screen at the rear, a long blue 'touch table' depicting the river where you can find out about today's Capital Concerns, a wonderfully ornate Selfridges lift dating from 1928, a replica Victorian street with a tobacconist containing some full length clay pipes, and the sign that bloke used to cart up and down Oxford Street.
Also good was the use of projected films showing actors as part of the exhibits as in the Pleasure Garden and the Lyons Tea House. In the main foyer there is a film showing London today on a large screen; airports, markets, city, houses, parks. I could have watched it for hours.
So, to sum up, it's brilliant, go and check it out when these galleries are open... it's free!!!!

17 May 2010

No Souls For Sale at Tate Modern

On Sunday May 16th I went to the No Souls For Sale event thingy at Tate Modern. They'd sectioned the floor of the Turbine Hall off into 70 spaces that were filled by a different gallery or organisation.
It was a mixed bag. There was a lot of stuff I couldn't be bothered to suss out, but there was also some interesting and thought provoking exhibits.
Most of the things that moved me came from abroad, from countries such as Italy or Vietnam... and now, looking at the NSFS site link (top line above) I am confused as to which site was for which gallery and I am kicking myself that I didn't make a better note of things as a lot of the posters in the link don't seem to tie up with the things I saw. Which is a shame. In fact some of the posters are better than the the exhibits I saw, and vice versa.
I really liked a stand in the middle that, on the outside, was made from old walnut furniture. And I loved the Buddah craved into a basbeall bat and the art books with contoured holes drilled into them. The square of white ribbons hanging from the ceiling was lovely, though I have no idea what it was meant to be about. In another area, children were having a great time throwing piles of little bits of paper with 'Local Artist' written on them up into the air. The big brown inflated globe that looked like a big Malteser was also strangely compelling.
Anyway... I took some photos.

13 May 2010

Maria Nepomuceno and Grayson Perry at the Victoria Miro Gallery

Last week I went a private view at The Victoria Miro Gallery in Wharf Road, N1.
This gallery is always worth popping in to as I think over the years it has had some fabulous shows. This is where, amongst other shows, Grayson Perry's showed 'The Walthamstow Tapestry' and his some of his wonderfully detailed maps based on the Mappa Mundi. His atmospheric and thought-provoking 'Charms of Lincolnshire' show was also there in 2006. Check past exhibitions in theie site for more.
But to the point... Mr Perry was there on the night in one of his colourful outfits, but even he must have felt quite pale and insignificant against Maria's wonderful, almost organic, creations made of rope, straw and beads. I found her use and understanding of colour and fluid shapes to be mesmerising and uplifting.
If you are in any way of a crafty leaning, as I am, then I urge you to go and see her show and be further inspired. It's on until 12th June.
The pics below are of the last show that inspired me in this way; Hyperbolic Crochet at the Hayward Gallery, August 2008, where whole coral reefs had been created using little metal hooks.

11 May 2010

London Bloggers Meetup, May 2010

Last night I went to a Meetup. (Thinks: that would be a good pun title for a collection of butcher shop related images...!). For those of you who haven't heard of Meetups, they are a great way to meet up with like-minded people and make new friends.
So Joanna and I pitched up at the Theodore Bullfrog pub in John Adam Street expecting a social get together. To be honest, we hadn't really read up on what it was about in advance and expected a bit of networking (ech, I hate that word) and chats over a few beers. We'd just about bought our drinks when a lovely woman called Tamara started giving a talk about blogging and how to get the best out of it, illustrating it all with her top 10 of dos and don'ts.
I must admit at first I thought, oh gawd no, please get me out of here! But listening to her explain how her site has become massive, and I mean massive, in nine short months, I was really impressed. Tamara puts an awful lot of time and effort into her site and posts more than once a day. The woman is truly obsessed. Or as she puts it, 'addicted'.
She had lots of great tips about tagging and links and keeping up with trends and the news and knowing who your readers are and following up on things. Some of it was relevant to me, a lot of it wasn't. But it got me thinking.
So when I got in last night I checked my stats for this site (and Jane Made This). It's something I don't do that often because it's like entering a vortex and hours can fly by.
It's fascinating; it's absorbing. For instance, the map above shows the countries coloured in different shades of green indicating where my traffic comes from. A lot of the paler green countries are deceiving because it turns out on closer inspection that only one person may have accidentally clicked in and immediately hit the back button (as in the case of individuals in Madagasgar and Peru, and 5 people in Thailand who probably put words like 'cock' or 'body parts' into Google!).
But it's heartening to know that 1,638 people in the UK have looked at this in the past month, 1,143 of them in London alone, spending an average of 2.47 minutes on here each time.
And then there are people from further afield; someone in Moscow was on here for an impressive 10 mins.
Jane's London was 2 years old last week, so it's really nice to know that you are all out there and I am not sitting here writing to myself.
A big thanks to those of you who keep coming back, and hello to all my new readers...
;-) xxxxxx!

A Belated Happy Birthday to David Attenborough!

The wonderful David Attenborough, naturalist and presenter of many fascinating TV programmes including the Life series, turned 84 on Saturday 8th May.
I have just been looking for links to clips for here and realised watching this that his comforting and friendly delivery (perhaps mingled with that of Michael Palin, who narrates the piece) sounds not unlike that of Oliver Postgate who created The Clangers and much more.
Planet Earth was my personal favourite of David's series as it was impossible to watch it without saying "wow!' at least ten times. And then "ugh!" as in things like this.
Thanks David, we love you!

Elephant, Kentish Town Road; Talking Parrots, Camden Parkway; Grasshopper, Cornhill; Goat, Kensington High Street.
Bear and Staff, Leicester Square; Bald Faced Stag, East Finchley; The Fox (Slug and Lettuce), Upper Street; Bull and Gate, Kentish Town.
Monkey, Holloway; White Horse, Parsons Green; Lion, Natural History Museum; Horatio Myers, Vauxhall.

5 May 2010

Women! Know your place!

That's a ref to a sketch from the Fast Show that I was reminded of when I saw the wonderful old photo of suffragettes on the cover of a copy of yesterday's free Stylist magazine that I found on the bus home last night.
So I turned to read the article on page 41 and it seems women may have made great leaps and bounds since that photo was taken but apparently we still can't do our sums....
If you look closely at the standfirst it reads,'Thanks to the suffragettes, British women were finally given the vote in 1918. Eighty-two years on, how has this hard-won right shaped politics today?'
It seems we are still living in the past.
And on the loose subject of women, I went to see 'Women Beware Women' at the Olivier Theatre the other night. It's had mixed reviews, and don't be put off by what I think is a misleading title as it's bloody brilliant; the set, the costumes, the choreography. Wonderful. Go go go!

3 May 2010

10 years of the Tate Modern – a really good bookshop

The Tate Modern is now 10 years old. According to this great article in The Times recently, it’s the most popular art venue in the world and one of the top three attractions (!) in the country (whatever that might mean), though it doesn’t mention what its rivals are.
I’ve never been a fan of the building myself. I have always felt that it’s an opportunity wasted. Pre 2000, when I heard the building was being converted for use as a gallery I was quite excited at the prospect, but when I went there I was so disappointed. And ten years on I still hold that view.
It’s the conversion of building itself that I have got the problem with, not the contents. Logic says that the main access to the building, and then to the art, should be through the door facing the river, especially if you have just walked across the Millennium Bridge. But no; if you use that door you will end up confused for a while wondering which way to go, trying to find a sign or a map to direct you to the art. On looking down into turbine hall you realise you may have to go down to go up. Hmmm. Once down there you'll realise the bulk of the art is on the floors above, so you then have to take a ride on a very long escalator like an extra in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.
At the top of every escalator on every floor it feels, to me, like being in an institution or a hospital. There are some great works of art up there but the effort involved always seems to me to diminish the enjoyment.
In case you are still wondering, the main entrance is what looks like the delivery/service doors down the ramp on the west side of the building. Access by this route brings you directly into the vast turbine hall that almost everyone else (I am aware that I am so in the minority here) cites as so amazing. It seems to me to be just a big redundant space; the only way of using it being to commission works to fill its cavernous hole. I just don’t agree with a gallery commissioning art in this way. I have seen a few of the commissions and felt either that they were diminished/dwarfed by the building or that they reeked of commerciality.
Could this fantastic space not have been better used with rooms at high levels on the south side connected across the turbine hall by walkways? Something like Musée D’Orsay in Paris? Had they done something like this perhaps the need to spend money on the new extension wouldn’t have been necessary. But, again, I’m no architect, what do I know?!
Call me old fashioned but I like to walk into a gallery and be immediately tempted or distracted by what I can see through a door to the left, or the hall ahead. Tate Britain and the National Gallery, for instance, achieve this with ease and are always a pleasure to visit. You are ‘in the art’ within minutes.
Last year I was discussing all this with a friend on the down escalator at Tate Modern. A fella behind us joined in and said he totally agreed with me as he always liked to refer to the building as “A really good bookshop with an art gallery attached”. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Top row: Cleveland Square, W2; Barton Street, SW1; Reeves & Sons Ltd, Ashwin St, E8; Camden High Street, NW1.
Middle row: Orford Road, E17; Charterhouse Square, EC1; Westbourne Terrace, W2; Highbury Place, N5.
Bottom Row: Crouch End Broadway, N8; Rivington Street, EC2; Farringdon Road, EC1; St Barts, EC1.

1 May 2010

Race For Life

I have just noticed that today, Saturday May 1st (pinch, punch, first day of the month!) a 5k Race For Life, in aid of Cancer Research UK, is taking place at the O2.
Since 1994 women from all over the country have been getting togged up in pink outfits to walk, jog or run a course and in doing so raise money for the charity. I have never done this myself, and perhaps I should as the feedback on these events is really positive.
Future events in London this summer will be Battersea Park, Blackheath, City of London and more. Check the link above for more details.

Top row: Cheapside, EC2; John Street, WC2; King Henry's Walk, N1; Belgrave Terrace, Holloway Road, N7;
Middle row: Lambeth Walk, SE11; Terrace Rd, E9; Bermondsey Street, SE1; Arundel St, WC2.
Bottom row: Redfern's Rubber Heels make walking a pleasure, Chapel Market, N1; Pembridge Road, W11; King William Street, EC4; Lime Street, EC3