Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Patrick Crozier on The Robert Stephenson statue at Euston
Edna on The most newsworthy thing so far done by a drone
Peter Chapman on Africa is (still) big
A Rob on An old person television set
Shawn on An old person television set
Michael Jennings on Calatrava coming to London
Raphael Boudreault-Simard on The most newsworthy thing so far done by a drone
Defence News on Trump makes headlines a year ago
Defence on Trump makes headlines a year ago
Tatyana on Calatrava coming to London
Most recent entries
- Robots build a bridge
- The Robert Stephenson statue at Euston
- Cruelty to a fake animal – kindness to a fake animal
- Shopping Trolley Spiral beside the River Lea
- An Underground sermon
- Rubbish blogging
- Tim Marshall on the illiberal and undemocratic Middle East
- Opera North’s Ring
- An important game and only a game
- Making blue by copying tarantulas
- An old person television set
- Battersea from Clapham Junction
- Some temporariness being immortalised
- Flats (plus a fantastic Super Bowl)
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
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Category archive: Sculpture
I often travel to Euston by tube, changing there from or to the Victoria Line to or from the Northern Line, but I very rarely emerge into the street at Euston. But yesterday, I did this, and I arrived by tube I exited via the main concourse of the main railway station, on account of these new concourses being, I think, interesting places. And then when I exited from the main station, I noticed, for the first time, the rather handsome statue of Robert Stephenson that is to be seen out there, if you do that.
This statue is very fine, I think:
Perhaps because of its modern surroundings, I suspected this statue of being a recent piece of pseudo-antiquity, perhaps motivated by guilt for all the architectural antiquity at Euston that got demolished. But no, the statue dates from a mere decade after Stephenson’s death, which was in 1859.
I only discovered just now that Robert Stephenson designed the Rocket, the first ever steam locomotive. I thought his dad George did that, but George merely did the railway. Blog and learn.
Yesterday I told you about a photo I took on January 20th of this year. Earlier that day I had journeyed to Bromley-By-Bow tube station, then walked south along the River Lea, and ended my wanderings at Star Lane Station. It was a great day for photoing, and I especially enjoyed photoing this witty sculpture:
But who did it? This evening I realised that I seemed to recall Mick Hartley having something to say about this, and so it proved.
It’s by Abigail Fallis, and it is called DNA DL90. Well, I say that’s what it’s called. That’s what Abigail Fallis called it, but I bet nobody else calls it that. I bet what most people call it is more like: Shopping Trolley Spiral. I’m guessing further that Abigail Fallis regards her sculpture as some kind of critique of late capitalist consumerism. But such ArtGrumbling need not stop the rest of it thoroughly enjoying the thing, and also continuing to relish our trips to the supermarket, there to sample the delights of early capitalism. Because you see, Abigail, capitalism is just getting started.
Yes. I was right. Says Hartley:
It is, says Fallis, a symbol of modern society’s consumer culture, which has now become entwined in our genetic make-up. They can’t help themselves, can they, these artists?
The usual bitch about Artsists is that they are predictable, and indeed they are. But this was something else again. I literally predicted this, before I read it. How predictable is that? Very, very.
Today will be the forth consecutive day of clear skies over southern England. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the first two of these four days, I journeyed to East London, and today I plan to do the same. (Yesterday, I just couldn’t make myself do this. Instead I got a haircut.)
Living and working on my own, to my own schedule, creates problems as well as solving or abolishing them. Being old, I basically have to get up as soon as I wake up, in order to squirt urine where it needs to go rather than where it doesn’t. And, having woken up, getting to sleep again can then be difficult and time consuming. Either I do this, eventually, which takes a big bite out of the beginning of my day. Or, I stay awake, which means that by the early evening I will be asleep in my chair. I am staying awake today, to make maximum use of all that sunlight which even now I can see outside. But, if I leave my self-imposed blogging duties for today to the evening, I will find this very difficult. This evening I will be both sleep-deprived and exhausted from my wanderings. Also, I want to be at an event this evening. So, I am blogging now, before journeying to East London.
It is for times like these that I collect photos that I just like into special directories, of photos that I just like. Since today is Friday, my day for cats and other creatures, here is an other creature:
A rather blurry photo, so no clicking for anything bigger there. That’s it. But click on this, of the sign under the elephant, if you want to read more about it:
Having to get up every few hours when trying to sleep is a penalty of old age, but a better thing about being old right now is that the indiscriminate inquisitiveness of oldies like me is now more easily answered, without me having to pester any actual humans. Getting old used to mean remaining permanently confused by more and more random stuff, but less so now I can just ask the www. Time was when a photo like the one of this elephant in my archives would have remained for ever mysterious. Now, I can learn all I want about to about it.
Here is a better elephant sculpture photo, which I found here
But why is the union jack elephant a different shape to all the others? I could find this out, probably. But can I be bothered? Do I care? No.
But why is the union jack elephant a different shape to all the others? I could find this out, probably. But can I be bothered? Do I care? No.
Friday is the day here for cats and other creatures, so here, among other things, is a panda:
What this photo illustrates is the perennial problem of trying to chuck stuff out, which is that all too often, stuff is just too nice to chuck out.
I recall, a year or two after the Berlin Wall was dismantled, meeting an Eastern European lady, who complained about how the packages and pots and bottles in which produce was suddenly now sold was too good to chuck out. Bloody capitalism. Capitalist rubbish was better than what they had previously had as actual stuff.
In a modified form, I now suffer from this syndrome. It has crept up on me more gradually, but throughout my lifetime, packaging has been getting ever better, probably because it is the sort of industry that politicians disapprove of, and have hence left to its own devices, an industry’s own devices invariably being better than any device devised by politicians. The packaging industry, not having been “helped”, has thrived.
Beer bottles (the one in the picture still has beer in it so that will be consumed first), I have learned not to miss. But even they are sometimes so artfully designed that it seems wrong to throw them away.
The coffee jar I will keep, because coffee jars are so structurally impressive.
But that panda has got to go.
Indeed. This is not one of all-too typical late night, last minute postings. This is me getting my blogging here done before I depart again to Tottenham, because when I get back I will be completely knackered.
Photoed by me last week, in Lower Marsh, where for some reason antique automobiles are often to be seen:
Considering how dark it was, this came out pretty well, I think. I took several other shots of this goddess, most too blurry to be any good.
When I showed the surviving clutch of non-blurry photos that I took of this car to a friend over the weekend, it suddenly seemed to me that this particular photo makes this car look a bit like the E-type Jag. This is not an argument. But it was a definite feeling.
Here is an E-type viewed from a similar angle.
I think what made me see this similarity is that this is the angle that de-emphasises that characteristic upward bulge on the E-type bonnet, a bulge which means that from most angles, the Citroen DS and the E-type do not look the same.
More on my fascination (widely shared) for antique cars in this earlier posting.
People taking photos with their mobile phones, now more commonly known as smartphones because of all the other things they can do also besides phoning people when out and about, is now something you see everywhere. Above is a typical such photoer, whom I photoed at the top of the Big Olympic Thing last Tuesday, just before it got dark, on the same day I took these photos.
1.1 and 1.2 both show classic finger-work, of the sort I have long been familiar with, but which I nevertheless never tire of seeing and photoing. These shapes always make me smile.
2.2 is a classic screen shot, with everything on the screen very visible, as it is often not. Normally I like bright, outdoor light, but when it comes to photoing other people’s screens, the worse the light is the better.
Perhaps 2.1 is the most interesting one, because it shows what dirty windows there are up there. The human eye doesn’t see through dirty windows very well, but cameras do this better, unless the camera is photoing the dirt, in which case it really photos it.
For the last week or two or more, I have been unable to reach the 6k blog, which is one of my favourites. I’ve been able to reach everything else I wanted to, but not 6k. Odd. My computer has been behaving strangely in recent weeks, so it’s almost certainly me rather than him. Or maybe, as The Guru suggests, it might be my internet provider. Whatever the reason, it’s been a frustration and a worry.
But today, for no reason that I can think of, I clicked on 6k yet again, and back it came, like it had never been away.
To celebrate, here are some more lighthouses, something which 6k likes, and which in a more ignorant and casual way I do too:
That’s a crop from the middle of a hastily snatched shop-window shot, full of reflections and general confusion. Memo to self. Next time I visit my friends in Brittany: better lighthouse shots. Of postcards, of toy lighthouses like these ones (I seem to recall entire walls of lighthouses in tourist crap shops), and of actual lighthouses.
6k likes lighthouses so much that the little square graphic at the top of the window where his blog is windowed, or whatever is the word for that, is a red, white and blue square from a red and white lighthouse picture.
Ah the countryside, where the other creatures - other than cats, I mean - live:
And contribute about as much to the world as most cats do, by the look of them.
Actually this is not really the countryside. It is north east London. To be more exact, it is the gap between the King George’s Reservoir and the William Girling Reservoir, which is named after William Girling, who was the Chairman of the Metropolitan Water Board at the time of the reservoir’s opening.
I found myself in this spot in the summer of 2015, and don’t worry, I had a destination in mind that was nothing to do with horses. I was on my way to Yardley Hill, to take photos like this:
As I made my way towards Chingford Station, I also came upon a horse, wondering whether to kick a dog or run away from it. And I also encountered an Indian elephant, outside an Indian restaurant:
But I kept well clear of the cattle.
Today I am rather ill, and so is my computer, or to be exact, my internet connection. My internet connection does still work, but only some of the time. There are regular interruptions, an earlier manifestation of which I suspect of having helped to cause those database problems.
My illness was cause by me swallowing a toothbrush bristle, which damaged my throat. That’s the second time this has happened recently. Am I going to have to start buying ridiculously expensive toothbrushes, and to throw them away more often?
So, to celebrate all this woe, here is a picture of nothing:
To be exact, that’s the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, with nothing on it.
I preferred that arrangement, photoed in September, to what is there now, which is a elongated thumb. It’s supposed to be all about being positiv. Whenever artists say things like that you suspect ironic distance. But whatever the wording for this thing, I just don’t like how it looks. I preferred Nothing.
The good news is that nothing on the Fourth Plinth is now permanent. By which I mean not that it always has nothing there, like in September, but that no thing ever stays there permanently. If you like whatever it is, you can photo it and remember it fondly. If not, you can forget about it.
I’ve been photoing the Pavlova Statue outside Victoria Station for a long time. On the left here is how she was looking, on a particularly sunny day ten years ago:
But look at the state of her now, as shown on the right. I got quite a shock, I can tell you, when I came upon her about a fortnight ago, looking like this.
The Victoria Palace Theatre is being refurbished.
Click at will, to get bigger, less square pictures.
Displayed in chronological order. Taken between May 2011 and August 2014. When I took that last one, of the bikini-wearing bottle openers, that got me collecting all the others. That last one is definitely the one where the Union Jacks are having the most fun.
Whenever I see an old car, of the sort that was the latest thing when I was a kid, I photo it, or I try to.
See, for instance, those delightful old Citroens in Roupell Street. Which were there, I have since learned, not because someone in Roupell Street is collecting them, but because someone in Roupell Street is repairing them.
And see also, this ...:
… which I saw earlier this week, while on my way to a violin and piano recital at the Romanian Cultural Institute in Belgrave Square. A Rolls Royce, on the way to what turned out to be a Rolls Royce performance.
I used to have a Dinky Toy version of that car.
I am increasingly coming to believe that many of our most powerfully felt aesthetic prejudices are formed in the nursery. And that a lot of Modern Art is the recreation of those happy sensations, in an enlarged form, suitable for the enlarged people that the nursery dwellers turn into.
But Dinky Toy cars don’t have to be enlarged, because they already have been. Enlarged Dinky Toy cars are called: cars.
Come to think of it, I also had a couple of Dinky Toy Citroens, a DS19, and a 2CV. Yes, this explains a lot.
Sunday was a good photography day. After lunching with a friend in the Waterloo area, I made my way, as reported yesterday, to the Tate Modern Extension. When up at the top of this I took many photos, and some quite good photos.
But none, for me, was better than this, which I spied just before getting into the lift from Floor 10 back to the ground:
I can’t remember exactly when the change happened from plaster casts to … that, but happen it did, and I am impressed. I’m guessing that one of the many advantages of this system is that you can take it off and put it back on again, to do things like assess progress, or deal with skin discomforts.
I’m further guessing that you can dismantle one of these things, give it a good wash, and then use it again.
More from me on the subject of plastic and its newly devised applications in this at Samizdata earlier today.
I love the various visual effects you sometimes get when a piece of reinforced concrete is being destroyed and when it puts up a fight. I can’t say that it always does this, because you wouldn’t see anything when it is routed into oblivion in the space of a few hours, would you? But when it does fight for its life, it can be quite a sight. These effects are particularly worthy of being photographically immortalised because however long the fight lasts, it will still end, and pretty soon.
And, I find that the more I see of 240 Blackfriars, from near and from far, the more I like it.
So, here is today’s photo, taken today:
I took this while on my way from Waterloo to Tate Modern and its Extension viewing gallery, which I am visiting a lot these days, before the Let Them Get Net Curtains row causes the place to be closed or at least severely curtailed.
240 Blackfriars is the work, I have just learned, of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, whom I have now started to learn more about. I never heard of them until now.
Preliminary findings: I think that 240 Blackfriars will probably turn out to be my favourite of their buildings so far. And: they make a lot of use of colour, which I favour, but which can often look very tacky and Seventies-ish if you don’t do it right.
The directory with all the snaps I took in Quimper and surrounding places, ten years ago, contains some fine images.
And some rather weird ones:
Okay, Citroens made of wood is not that weird. Certainly not in France.
But those really rather realistic black baby dolls is something we surely don’t do nearly so much over here. I’m guessing we have too much of a history of what you might call derogatory black dolls, unrealistically racist dolls, and that means that all black dolls are now tainted in our eyes, even much more realistic ones like the ones in that picture. They evoke a tradition and a way of thinking we would prefer not to be reminded of, or worse, to be thought to be perpetuating. When the British are being sentimental about black babies, they do it in those (I think) ghastly charity fundraising telly adverts.
But what do I know? I’m just thinking aloud. Maybe we do have lots of dolls like these in British shop windows, and I merely haven’t noticed them. But, my first reaction when I say these black babies was, as I say: weird. Certainly striking enough to take several photos of.