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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.

5 September 2017

A walk along the Thames Path – Putney, Fulham Palace and Wandsworth

Nine months ago – yes – it's taken me that long to sort out a huge backlog of photos(!) – I gathered a few friends together and we went on a circular walk along the Thames starting and ending at Putney Bridge Station.
On this chilly December Sunday we walked south across Putney Bridge, turned left after St Mary's Church to follow a short section of the Thames Path in front of some nasty modern riverfront buildings, stopped to question some strange sculptures, then continued down Deodor Road and into Wandsworth Park.

The path then took us in, past and around some more new build which had some colourful carpet-esque tiles and mirrors which I think are supposed to evoke a comfy indoor environment. Then a diversion led us down some some ugly back streets full of rubbish which seemed at odds with the luxury/bespoke/exclusive (or whatever silly words the agents were employing) apartments a stone's throw away, to get to a section of almost natural habitat where Bell Lane Creek and the River Wandle meet the Thames.
Information boards were in place to tell us about the environment and how nature is being encouraged to reclaim the environment. Well, I wish nature would reclaim more than just the river banks there. The sign said that they expected "the work to be finished by by Spring 2017" so if you live around there please do send me an update. Thanks.
Nearby we noticed some other signs warning of a potential toilet/electricity accident. Ouch!
In Smugglers Way – don't get excited about the name of this road because there is no longer anything historical there let alone anything that hints at smuggling – but there was/is a big chunk of a very old olive tree from Aleppo in Syria said to date from 1600 in the forecourt of the wood reclamation flooring company, opposite Wandsworth's waste recycling centre. Again, if anyone has any more info on this, do let me know.
All this art and history was hard work so we stopped for lunch in The Ship. Sad to report that my memory of that place from when I used to go there, ooh, about 25 years ago, is far better than what I see there now. Like many places, the charm has gone. the Ship's popularity over the decades has, to my mind, changed it beyond all recognition and it's no longer that special hidden cosy historical place – I'd hate to think what it's like there on a Friday or Saturday evening as it was horribly noisy when we were there and it wasn't very busy at all at that time. Pubs these days rip out the dividing walls and the carpets and instead have bare floors and wooden chairs with no upholstery, not even any drapes at the windows and all this does is create noisy environments because there is nothing to absorb the sound.
From here we walked north across Wandsworth Bridge and left into Carnwath Road, somehow losing one of our group (who hadn't quite understood the circular route and got lost – oops) and then we headed northwards up Broomfield Lane, because The Hurlingham Club won't allow a path at the river's edge, past an old dilapidated building that evokes Evelyn Waugh novels, and then back to the start point via the park and Ranleigh Gardens.
Are you keeping up?!
And then we just about had time for a swift visit to Fulham Palace house including a peek into the chapel as it was closing (marvellous!). Phew. Oh, last pic above is an artwork there that I thought was by my friend Paul Bommer who did the wall murals at Fortnam and Mason, but no, just checked and it's not one of his.
FP needs a re-visit. There is so much to see, especially the gardens etc. It needs a lazy day. The idea was to go back in the summer time but it's September already and I doubt this will happen again any time soon.
We finished the day off with a few beers in The Eight Bells near Putney Bridge Station.