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31 May 2012

Holloway Arts Festival

Lots of good stuff going on at my local festival in N7 and N19 this year between 1st and 10th of June... there's something for all ages and tastes and I really hope it's a huge success... especially as it's on at the same time as the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Who planned that?!
See the full list of events here.

29 May 2012

Queen's Diamond Jubilee

In case you have been on the moon or trekking though an Amazon rainforest, you will already be aware that Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne for 60 years. Poor dear. She should eat a better diet.
We are getting 4 days to celebrate (or not) with lots of events planned to take place all over the country. Highlights in London include the pageant/flotilla along the Thames on Sunday 3rd and an RAF flypast on Tuesday 5th.
Click here to see what's on near you.
The National Portrait Gallery has a relevant exhibition on at the moment bringing together many representations of the Queen by artists as diverse as Andy Warhol and Cecil Beaton. Check out how lovely she looks in the image on the promo page.
Here are some London Queens... mainly pubs:

27 May 2012

Stik in Dulwich

Four years ago I was walking along Dalston Lane and I turned to see a fresh mural depicting six white female stick figures, with one carrying a baby (see top left within the montage below.)
I took a couple of photographs. A fella standing next to me on the pavement asked me if I liked it and I said, 'yes, of course', so he told me that he was the artist and had just finished it. I think at the time I just assumed this was a commissioned piece, so I thought nothing of it and wandered off. I didn't stop to chat, and as friends will tell you, that's rather out of character for me!
Within weeks I realised that I had been in the presence of genius as I started to spot Stik's shy, lonely, furtive figures throughout north and central London, peeking out from windows, or sleeping or smoking in backstreets. People were starting to 'collect' his work on Flickr.
Stik spotting?  Spot Stik?
Some of my own collection is shown below, many of which have now been sadly overpainted, including the ladies and the bookshop. But such is the way with street art. And that's how it ought to be.
The news is that Stik has recently invaded South London and, in conjunction with last week's Dulwich Festival and the Dulwich Picture Gallery, he has created some street art based on classical paintings hanging within the gallery. His reinterpretation of Franceschini's Guardian Angel is near Push Studios in Blackwater Street, and more re-workings can be found in the surrounding streets on walls and garage doors. 
I am kicking myself for a second time... last weekend Stik led a (sold out) tour of these works but I found out about it too late. Grr!

25 May 2012

Beer and curry anyone?

Karen Eland is a beer artist. Yes, a beer artist. Not a piss artist like the rest of us; but a beer artist. This means she creates art using beer. Me, I prefer to drink the stuff, but each to his own and all that.
This Saturday and Sunday Karen will be creating a piece of street art at The Vibe Bar in Brick Lane using Cobra Beer and Indian spices.
More info here.
I wonder if the artwork will be edible?
Eight things close to the Vibe Bar.

Take part in a virtual orchestra

There's another great show on at the Science Museum...
The Universe of Sound, a virtual Philharmonic Orchestra, has been created by a very clever digital installation which allows visitors to take on the role of a musician, conductor, arranger or even composer. 
Coincidentally, I am having trouble composing this blog post ... so please rearrange the following to create a coherent paragraph, by adding punctuation and words like 'and': 10 separate rooms / music / Gustav Holst / interactive / digital technology... 

Luckily for me, Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, puts it like this, “This project offers everyone, from the very young to the very old, from the absolute novice to the experienced musician, the chance to step right into the heart of one of the world’s finest symphony orchestras. Our world is by turns preposterously loud, pin-drop quiet, highly-charged, intense and frequently overwhelming. Come and join us – you won’t be disappointed.”
Stuff that affects our ears

24 May 2012

City Showcase event in Soho this Sunday

This Sunday 27th May – Dean Street in Soho will be closed to traffic for a one day event with food, comedy, music and market stalls offering a wide range of fashion and eclectic items.
I will have a stall there myself flogging my wares opposite the Crown and Two Chairman pub at pitch 14, so, if you are out shopping in the homogenous mainstream of Oxford Street, please do nip into Soho and say hello.
The event is in aid of the Terrence Higgins Trust.
See here for more details.
The Dean Street area.

21 May 2012

Clerkenwell Design Week

Craft Central opens its doors from May 22nd to showcase Made in Clerkenwell: Summer Open Studios as part of Clerkenwell Design Week.
There will be craft workshops, pot- and print-making, knitting and printing, as well as a chance to look in on and purchase from the designers in residence.
Plus, on Tuesday 22nd there's a chance to go on a Clerkenwell rooftop walk with historian and designer-maker Jane Young and hear about the area's rich and varied history.
See here for more details of all the Craft Central events on offer.
Above are some of the many little details that can be found in the vicinity. 
Craft Central's St John's Square building, is shown bottom left, with a frieze around it showing that it was originally a branch of the National Penny Bank.... more about that and other interesting Clerkenwell snippets here.

20 May 2012

Torched yet untouched

I had a text conversation with a friend yesterday morning about how unmoved I am by the Olympic torch relay. Well, it's not even a relay is it?!
I was going to write a piece myself, but it seems I lit his blue touch paper as he has beaten me to it, echoing many of my thoughts.
Read it here.
Go Malcolm... go go go!!!
Read more of my thoughts about the Olympics in a previous post.
Clockwise from top left:
Chamber of Commerce, Cannon St (RIP), Crouch End Broadway, Westminster, Upper St, Clapham Common, Savile Row.

18 May 2012

Brains – The Mind as Matter

If you haven't been to the Wellcome Collection – why not??
It's free and there are always wonderfully interesting exhibitions to see there.
On at the moment, until 17th June, is Brains– The Mind as Matter which is about brains. D'uh!
The Wellcome's permanent exhibition is also well worth looking in on; it features all sorts of fascinating and freaky surgical instruments and medically-related artefacts from all over the world.
Find the museum on the Euston Road, almost opposite Euston Station.

15 May 2012

You Animal, You! by Charlotte Cory

A couple of weeks ago I went to the book launch of 'You Animal, You!', a printed collection of Charlotte Cory's wonderful montage photographs.
At first glance you might look at these Photoshopped images and think they are just animal heads superimposed on Victorian people. But, if you look again, you will see that all of these stuffed animals that Charlotte has found in various museums have been carefully chosen and photographed at specific angles so that they sit perfectly on the body of the person shown on the sepia Victorian calling card. (Calling cards were the equivalent of today's business card, except that Victorians, would include a self portrait. These cards were also a good marketing tool for the photographer whose name and address often appeared at the bottom.)
Charlotte's clever idea is to play with the words 'shot' and 'captured', referring in different ways to the dead animals and the photographed people.
I had a good chat to Charlotte. She is a prolific and inspirational woman; an artist, novelist, photographer and playwright, with a love of history. Plus she tells me she too collects things such as clay pipes. Ooh.
The book is jam-packed full of Charlotte's poignant and often amusing images. But I am not keen on the random spotty or coloured backgrounds which I think distract from the images, and many of the pictures that have been used full bleed have lost valuable information in the gutter area. Also, there is evidently no typography skill involved, which is a huge shame, especially seeing the wealth of inspiration on the calling cards and the labels of lotions and potions featured on the endpapers. And the letter-spaced headings with their heavy double underscores, combined with the justified copy is really clunky. I dunno; perhaps it's only me who notices these things, design for print, especially books and brochures, being my day job.
Ah well, never mind...
I just remembered this... A while ago Peter Watts asked, what would you collect if money and available space were no restriction? Easy...! Bizarre taxidermy! Like these, recently on show at Peter Blake's 'Museum of Everything'.
The book launch was in the Royal Suite of the wonderful St Pancras Hotel. With a name like 'Royal" I'd expected the room to be as wonderful as the adjacent renovated areas of the hotel, but it was rather a let down – all hotel-y with over-large sofas and floor-to-ceiling shelving containing arty bits that looked like they had been bought from Heals.

After quaffing a few tasty canapés and downing a couple of G&Ts I spent ages admiring the stairwell and adjoining corridors. It's just lovely. And assymetical. And every dragon column is different, and the clashing patterns and textures somehow work brilliantly together.
The last time I'd been in there was about 15 years ago on an Open House day. On the wall behind me as I type this is a page of the Independent dated July 1995 that shows the stairwell pre renovation and I am happy to report that it looks like all 'they' have done is clean it up a bit and add some wonderfully gaudy carpet.
On the ground floor I stood for ages chatting to a member of staff who was sporting a security badge. He had extensive knowledge about the history of the building. I commented that his enthusiasm was wonderful and asked if it was part of his job. No, he said, it wasn't – he just loves working there and has made it his business to find out as much as possible. How lovely. And what a lovely place to work.
If you want to see the building pre-renovation you need only watch this video (shot in one take!) though, like me, you will probably have the song as an ear worm for the rest of the day now... and note how little Mrs B contributes in it except for some weird faces she pulls towards the end!

12 May 2012

It's back!!! Smoke – a London peculiar

A friend told me about Smoke magazine a few years back and I quickly signed up for a subscription. Full of short obscure London-inspired stories and witty observations it was perfect for bedtime reading and dull tube journeys (not bus journeys – I like to gaze out of the window, even if it's a journey I have made hundreds of times).
Issue sixteen, the last printed version plopped through my door well over a year ago containing one of my own observations, but since then, apart from Soho! the board game, we have been smokeless.
So, I am glad to report that it's back, and this time as a shiny new on-line version.
For those of you still prefer, as I do, to read from a malleable chunk of paper, back issues are still available of most editions. I recommend Issue 14 mainly because there are 3 of my photos in there plus a whole page of my coal holes like this. Even more coal holes here.
See, it's all about me really.

10 May 2012

Dandy Lion market at The Boogaloo

Here's a good one for North Londoners...
Every 2nd Saturday of the month there's a great market, offering arts and crafts, vintage, homewares and plenty more besides, at the Boogaloo pub on Archway Road.
My friend Leslie, who hosts it says, "it's a blast from the last; a nod to the future" and she decorates the venue in a different way every month depending on the time of year or whatever is topical. Whilst browsing you can also expect to hear guest DJs playing eclectic tunes, refreshments (it is after all a pub!) and live music.
What's not to like?
The next Market at The Boogaloo is this Saturday 12th May.
I am hoping to be able do a stall there myself sometime soon.
12.30–5.30pm. Free entry. More info here or email
Here are some lions; some dandy, some scared, some aloof, some just plain daft.
See these and lots more in my Lions of London set.

7 May 2012

Hear me wittering on Londonist Out Loud

Yours truly is one of the two people having a chat with N Quentin Woolf on today's Londonist Out Loud podcast. We manage to cover quite a range of subjects, but I am not giving them away here... have a listen for yourself.
Here's a link to the Facebook page.
Londonist Out Loud is also on iTunes.
Here are some pods...
A mix of Kew gardens, my garden, my kitchen, the London Eye and Bedford Square.

I am on the London Grill

This went live on the 4th, so you may have seen it already... my replies to David Styles's questions on the Radio Taxis blog.
Ten "devilshly probing questions about London" and they don't take "Sorry Guv" for an answer.
I am in esteemed company... check out some of the other people who have been quizzed.
See my answers here.
David mentioned me in an interview he did for Londonist.

4 May 2012

A lovely day Greenwich

On Monday morning I went to Greenwich to display some of my clay pipe jewellery in Bullfrogs shop window in Church Street.
A friend came to meet me there and we went for lunch in a nearby restaurant where I bumped into another friend's daughter who, unbeknownst to me, is studying at Greenwich Univerisity. Lucky girl to be in such a great location, and what a nice surprise to see her, as I don't think I'd set eyes on her since she was about 15.
It was a glorious day so after lunch I went for a wander...
In the park I admired the construction of a labyrinth of metal poles that will become the controversial Olympic equestrian venue. Outside the Royal Maritime Museum I spotted the oversized ship in a bottle that was previously on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square. I went inside the museum and was a bit disappointed. I was engrossed in the gallery with the pics of the then and now stretches of Wapping and Bermondsey, but leaving that room I couldn't find anything else to inspire me. Did I miss a trick somewhere? If so, the signage is appalling. And I had hoped there would be more and larger maps and charts for sale in the shop... but I digress; this is supposed to be about nice things...
A raspberry ripple ice cream and then to The Painted Hall, 'the finest dining hall in Europe', no less. I had been there before for a Christmas do a few years back (actually, it was the company my lunch friend works for) but, although we all had that 'wow' moment when we entered the room, we then became preoccupied with all the food and drink. But mainly the drink. The hall is like an OTT set for a bizarre film; you feel as if you are actually in a painting. Every inch is covered with fantastic images and trompe l'oiel.
Then I popped into the beautiful Old Royal Naval College Chapel and admired its repetitive yet soothing interior. There was just time to pop into the ORNC museum. I just love the big relief map in the centre of the main room. In fact the whole of that room is jam-packed with so many interesting and interactive and informative things. It was closing in ten minutes; that's the third time that's happened to me!
So to the Cutty Sark. I like what they've done. I like the way the glass surround evokes the sea. I like the reflections it creates. It was closed so I couldn't go inside but I notice that the roof of the shop area is practically the same as the new roof at the Kings Cross Station, which is almost the same as The Great Court at the British Museum. couldn't they have designed something different?
I admired the view across to The Isle of Dogs and thought about walking through the foot tunnel. I noticed that the tide was low and I could see shingle on the other side beckoning me, but I had the wrong shoes on. So I got on the DLR and headed home instead.
What a nice day.

1 May 2012

I am 4

May 1st is the 4th birthday of Jane's London.
Here is my first post. Hit the newer button at the bottom to see the previous posts... it appears I posted quite a lot on day 2.
It was the Holloway Road that set this whole thing in motion; I used to talk to local people about things along the main road and most of them didn't know what I was going on about, so initially I'd planned to put together a small book of A1 Holloway Road and Upper St photos, but once I started I realised I'd created a small monster, so the beast grew to cover a wider area.
Here are some 4s or pictures with four things in them (but no candles):