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Category archive: Sculpture

Monday April 29 2019

Earlier today, Patrick Crozier and I recorded another of our recorded conversations (by and by it will appear here).  Patrick laid out the agenda which was Christianity, and how, although he could never believe in it, henevertheless regrets the diminution of its influence on our world.

He mentioned the way the Western Roman Empire fell apart after it had been conquered by Christianity (echoing Gibbon, although I didn’t say that; he mentioned ecclesiastical architecture; he mentioned the intimate relationship between Christianity and secular power; and at one point we rather digressed, into the matter of French domestic architecture.

Here are four photos I photoed in Quimper, Brittany, exactly one year ago to the day, which illustrate these various talking points:

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Photo 1.1 a history lesson inside Qumper Cathedral which covers the ground Patrick alluded to about the Roman Empire (protected by glass, hence the reflection of the stained glass window)..  Photo 1.2 is a view of one of the towers of Quimper Cathedral, as seen from the other tower.  Photo 2.1 is of an equestrian statue, from the same spot.  And finally, 2.2, also from the same spot, is a photo looking out over the city of Quimper.

The weather could have been a lot brighter, but you are only allowed to the top of Quimper Cathedral on the one day each year, and April 29th 2018 was the day that it was

I will greatly miss Quimper and its Cathedral, now that my friends in France no longer live there.  I won’t be going back on my own, just to see it but not them.

Saturday April 27 2019

Yes, I like to photo signposts.  You know where you are, with signposts.  Because they pretty much tell you where you are.

Here’s a signpost photo I photoed in March 2012:

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But there’s more to it than just having a note of where I was, useful though that is.  There’s something about actually seeing those particular names of particular places which makes the fact that this is where I really am – and then later: was - come particularly alive.

As you can tell from the previous paragraph, I don’t really know how to explain this fascination of mine.  And just now, I am too knackered, having spent the day recovering from a Last Friday of the Month meeting that happened last night.  Dominique Lazanski: very good.  My front room: very full.  Aftermath: lots of crap to tidy up.

Yesterday was a day when I had to be very energetic and alive, to get ready for that meeting.  So, I was.  (Hence those four blog postings yesterday.) Today, I could be knackered.  So, I was.

Friday April 26 2019

In March 2005 there was scaffolding at the Albert Memorial, and I photoed it, along with several of its subsidiary sculptures, sculptures of which I am very fond:

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There is an elephant there, centre stage, which is why this has to go up here on a Friday.  Also, note the lady with with her (right) boob job.  I’ve always liked that.

Here is Albert himself, same day, same time:

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My camera then was this one.

There will come a time, not so far in the future now, when the only photos of my own that I blog about will be photos I photoed earlier, often, as in this case, a lot earlier.

Friday April 19 2019

A week ago now, I photoed this photo in the graveyard of a little village up in the mountains of southern France called Taulis (already mentioned here).  Today being Good Friday, I thought I’d do a little nod towards Christianity by showing a few crucified Christs, France being very full of these rather gruesome sorts of sculpture.  Everywhere you go in France, or so it seems to me, you see these, and not just in graveyards:

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Even more striking, however, in that photo, are the dead body storage units in the background.  Do we have those in England?  Not that I recall seeing.

They remind me of the dead body storage units that you see in TV police dramas.  Every so often there’s a scene where a grieving relative is asked to identify a cadaver, and a drawer is opened, and closed.  We see grief enacted.

Are police dramas on the telly replacing graveyards and crucified Christs as the main means that we now use to contemplate death?

As I get nearer to death, I think about it more and more.  What will it be like?  Will I know I’m dead?  Will I still be “alive” when I am incinerated?  Will there by bright lights in the distance?  Will it hurt?  Will I be reunited with the enemies of my schooldays?  Will I still be able to write about it here, but in a way that is unpublished?  What, historically speaking, will I miss by a whisker?  Or by decades and centuries?

Maybe France is not so full of crucified Christs.  Maybe it’s just that when I now see them, I notice them.

Wednesday April 17 2019

Yes, telling you about how I’ve been in France.

So. where was I?  In France?  Well, to give you an idea, here are some of the excellent places I visited:

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Whenever I am in foreign parts, I always photo signs, adverts, and the like.  Every place has its own style for doing such things, so signage photos can be very evocative, when you look back at them.  Also, they tell you where you were, and hence what all the other photos taken at the same time were of.

Click on the above photo-fragments to get some context.  If you are curious about any of these places, well, you now have the words you need to go searching.  Words are already links, in the sense that you don’t need me to turn them into links.

I especially like how, when you leave a French town or village, you get a sign with the name crossed through with a red line (2.3).

I also photo war memorials, keeping a particular eye open for repeated surnames.  In Lagrasse (3.1), Baillat, Fontvieille and Jougla are surnames that each get two mentions.

I also like to photo the stuff in tourist shops, especially the postcards (1.1 and 3.2).  That way, you get what tourists generally consider to be the best views, and are alerted to interesting local things which you otherwise might miss even learning about.  Although, in St Cyprien, I got a bit of aggro from a couple shopkeepers who objected to me photoing their produce instead of buying it.

Monday April 15 2019

An airplane approaches London City Airport.  There are cranes, leaning away from each other, ...

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... which was all I thought I was photoing.  Until I looked at it at home on a much bigger thing; and saw a Much Bigger Thing:

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Yes, the Big Olympic Thing.

Another photo of somewhere, turned into somewhere by the same Big Thing.

Thursday April 11 2019

As earlier threatened.

Here is a tree, photoed by me in Onslow Square, just off the Fulham Road, early last week:

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It’s the way they prune it.

Sunday April 07 2019

Or to put it another way:

London’s new Tulip skyscraper is great, but why aren’t more people embedding sharks in their roof?

Well, I can think of quite a few answers to that question, but I get the point that Joel Dimmock is making and I like it very much.

Is there starting to be a hum, as the late Chris Tame used to call it, in favour of people being free to build whatever crazy buildings they want to build with their own money on their own property?

One of the more interesting facts about the quotes quoted above is that they appear in The Independent.  Okay, in the “Voices” (clickbate?) section, but still, The Independent.  Is The Independent starting to be in favour of … independence?

Saturday April 06 2019

The designated starting point of my walk beside the river last Monday was Assembly (that being a photo of Assembly being assembled), the sculpture assembly outside the Woolwich Arsenal next to the river:

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Those are some of the photos I photoed, and they are pretty much the photos everyone else photos of these metal men, and pretty much the same as the photos I photoed when last I visited these men.  That was in April 2011.  It doesn’t feel like it was that long ago, which I think is because these metal men, once seen, are not soon forgotten.

Assembly is the work of Peter Burke.  My googling skills are such that I often have to have several goes at a subject before I find my way to the stuff that I find the most informative and interesting.  I can just about remember visiting the Peter Burke website, but I don’t recall ever reading this biography of Peter Burke before.  Nor do I recall learning that this Assembly assembly began life somewhere else.  Or maybe he did an Assembly for that rural setting, and then did another Assembly for outside the Woolwich Arsenal.  Yes, probably that.  Burke is big on mass production, like his contemporary and mate (apparently) Gormley.

And, I certainly never watched this video of Peter Burke speaking until now.  As with all artists talking about their work, I see rather little connection between what he says about his work and what the work says to me.  But at least what he says is mostly accurate, in that he mostly describes how he made it.  There is hardly any pretentious art-speak bollocks of the sort that would get him sneered at at Mick Hartley‘s.

A key to why I like Peter Burke is that before he started doing art he was a Rolls Royce engineer, working on aero-engines.  He liked and still likes how stuff like that looks.  Snap.  Unlike me, from then on, he knew how to make it.

But someone could do all the things Peter Burke describes himself doing when he does his art and produce art that says nothing to me at all.  Insofar as he does describe what he thinks his art actually means, he pretty much loses me.  Which might explain why I only like some of his art, such as Assembly.

What I get from Assembly, as well as the obvious military vibes I wrote about in that 2011 posting, is something to do with stoicism, emotional self-control, being a man, being a man under extreme pressure while keeping your manly cool.  Even to the point of looking rather comical while doing all this.

Wednesday March 27 2019

While I’m on the subject of One Blackfriars, as I was last night, here is a rather charming piece of urban sculpture to be seen outside its front door, photoed earlier on the day I photoed the photo in the previous posting:

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I’ve heard this expression but never understood what it was about.  Having read this, I now understand it a bit better:

Wet risers are used to supply water within buildings for firefighting purposes. The provision of a built-in water distribution system means that firefighters do not need to create their own distribution system in order to fight a fire and avoids the breaching of fire compartments by running hose lines between them.

Wet risers are permanently charged with water. This is as opposed to dry risers which do not contain water when they are not being used, but are charged with water by fire service pumping appliances when necessary.

Part B of the building regulations (Fire Safety) requires that fire mains are provided in all buildings that are more than 18 m tall. In buildings less than 50 m tall, either a wet riser or dry riser fire main can be provided. However, where a building extends to more than 50 m above the rescue service vehicle accesslevel, wet risers are necessary as the pumping pressure required to charge the riser is higher than can be provided by a fire service appliance, and to ensure an immediate supply of water is available at high level.

Blog and learn.

Thursday March 21 2019

Looking out over the gloom of Bermondsey yesterday, with maximum zoom, from the balcony of a friend’s flat:

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Despite the dreariness and consequent blurriness, you can clearly see the Big Olympic Thing there.  Next to it, right behind the tower of the crane, you can also see, if you look a bit harder, the top of the London Stadium, now the home of West Ham United.

What this photo illustrates, among many other things, is the enormous contribution to a city made by Recognisable and Big Things.  Most of what you see in that photo is dull Unless you are a craniac like me) and generic.  You could be anywhere.  But once you see that contorted red shape, however dimly, you know at once where you are looking and what you are looking at.  These Things aren’t called “landmarks” for nothing.  They are like giant squirts of solidified piss from God.  They mark the landscape.  They give it shape and structure.  You know where you are with them, but without them, you don’t.  Without them, you could be anywhere.  With them, everywhere becomes somewhere.

Wednesday March 13 2019

Some close- and closer-ups of the Optic Cloak:

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What these photos, photoed just after I’d photoed these photos, only show a few glimpses of is how different the OC looks, depending on the light’s strength, its direction, and its colour.  All of the above photos were photoed from the western, upstream side of the OC, as I moved from north to south, and all on the same day.  There’s a whole different set to be taken from the east, or from the West on a different day.

This is something that all the best London Things, Big or, as in this case, not so Big, have in common.  (I’m thinking in particular of the Shard and of the Walkie Talkie and, more recently, of the Scalpel (which is only very small in that photo, but which does wonderful things with the light).)

Friday March 08 2019

There are, in this world, a great many horses made of driftwood.  I learned this by googling “driftwood horse”, and I also learned that a major contributor to the diftwood horse mountain is Heather Jansch.

Whether Heather Jansch was responsible for this particular driftwood horse, I do not know, but there it was, in a shop window, in the middle of London.  And, as you can maybe see if you know what I look like, I photoed it:

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I wasn’t trying for a selfie.  I just wanted the driftwood horse itself, with as little in the way of reflection as the light would allow.

After failing to find this particular driftwood horse by googling “driftwood horse”, I tried “driftwood horse shop window”, and I found it, in the form of a photo of the exact same driftwood horse in the exact same shop window.

Thursday March 07 2019

My expedition to check out the Optic Cloak got me appreciating the new version of the Greenwich Peninsula, the post-Dome version, that is now taking shape.

Here is a picture of it, one of those computer fake photo things:

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The Optic Cloak is an invisible smudge of grey, just after the C of OPTIC and just above the K of CLOAK.  That’s because this picture is not about the truth as such, but about new tall buildings, and the Optic Cloak, although quite tall, is not a building, so, in this picture, it is ignored.

However, what the above photo does show is the big double-barrelled road which takes traffic into and from the Blackwall Tunnel.  And you get a great look at this mighty traffic artery if you climb up onto a footbridge that takes you over it.  Over it if, for instance, you are walking south from North Greenwich tube station, in order to get a closer-up view, from the West, across the big road, than you’d get otherwise, of the Optic Cloak, as I was when I went there, however many weeks ago it was.

You can just about make out this footbridge in the picture above, just above and to the right of the C of COPTIC.

Here are a couple of photos that I photoed of this footbridge:

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And here are a couple of views from it, of the Optic Cloak:

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But I especially liked the sort of views you get from this footbridge, looking north, towards the Blackwall Tunnel:

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Most of the towers in the distance there are across the river, in Docklands, and already that view, as you approach the Blackwall Tunnel is quite something.  As the Greenwich Peninsula itself fills up with more towers, it will look even more mini-Manhattan-ish.

Here are photos I took from the bridge of a couple of interesting vehicles, going north (left) and south (right):

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Plus, here is a close-up of that roof clutter, in the left hand of the two looking north photos, above:

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This roof clutter makes a point, as do those two views looking north, and the traffic.  This new Greenwich Peninsula has the feeling of old-school work getting done, just as I presume the old one had.  Stuff that really hurts if you drop it on your foot is being made, modified, bought and sold, in this particular part of London, just as it always was.  Noxious gasses and fluids are being propelled hither and thither, in pipes and cans and lorries.  You get the feeling that this isn’t going to stop any time soon, the way it has in Docklands.

It could just be all that Blackwall Tunnel traffic thundering by which gives off that feeling.  However, I don’t think so, if only because the thundering traffic creates the sort of place where the Financial Services Industry wouldn’t want to be.

Here, finally, is the kind of close-up of the Optic Cloak that I had come for …:

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.. with a lorry roaring by, full of noxious fluid.

There can be no higher praise for the Optic Cloak than to say that it fits right in with all this hustle and bustle and noise.  Indeed, it dominates it.  It presides contentedly over it.  Most “Art” in such a place would look ridiculous.

Monday March 04 2019

I took this photo of the big 3D map of London that is in the Building Centre, Store Street, in 2010:

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And here is a close up of that distant City Cluster that you can vaguely discern in the distance, above:

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Gherkin, tick.  Cheesegrater, tick.  Crossrail, semi-tick, still slogging its way towards belated completion.  But, note the Helter Skelter, which never happened.  That’s the tall and twisty one in the middle there, that looks like a helter skelter.  They started it, but then they (presumably a different they) turned what they had into something different, 22 Bishopsgate.

Some photos get better with the passing of the years.  Soon, the Helter Skelter will be largely forgotten.