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Category archive: Sculpture

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.

Sunday March 03 2019

Photoed by me, last Friday evening:

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Soon after photoing that photo, I photoed lots of others of her, but none of them had that balance between natural light and artificial light.  They were just her, with her knickers lit up, with light-or-dark buildings behind her rather than the magical end-of-Magic-Hour sky.

Under Pavlova, Hamilton is currently playing.

Busy day

Friday February 22 2019

Yes, about that horse’s head sculpture that I showed a photo of here, a week ago.

I complained about how the way its neck was sliced through was maybe too obtrusive a part of the whole effect.

Well look at this other photo I took of it:

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Sorry about the bus, but this is my only photo from anything like the angle I need to make my point.  Which is, that the severed neck looks like a face, and the horse’s ears look like little arms pointing upwards.

And the whole thing looks like one of those idiotic Olympic mascots.

Not, surely, the look the sculptor was going for.

Sunday February 17 2019

Last Thursday afternoon, I emerged from North Greenwich tube/DLR station, and started getting my bearings.  Dome right here, there, so that’s north, so south is the other way, and somewhere around there ought to be the Big Thing itself, called (it has to be called something) The Optic Cloak.  (If it has a local nickname, I am unaware of it.) Because it’s a Big Thing vaguely shaped like a domino, and because it takes itself very seriously and because it’s not for people to live it, it reminds me of the Big Thing at the beginning of 2001 A Space Odyssey, despite its ziggy zaggy surface.

And very quickly, after hardly any walking south at all, I got my first sightings of the OC.

Here are nine of the first lot of photos I took of the OC:

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All of these photos have something else in them besides the Optic Cloak itself, and this is deliberate.

Real Photographers are very clever at screening out all irrelevancies, when they photo a Thing like this.  They go for the special effects that the Thing itself contrives, with no lampposts or surveillance cameras or cars or general crap inserting themselves into the final photo.  The results often (a) are very beautiful (provided the Thing itself has something beautiful going for it), but (b) in no way prepare you for how the Thing actually looks, in its actual setting, when you actually get there.  Real Photographers, to generalise, are better at lying with their cameras than snappers like me are, which means that snapper-photos are often superior, as actual guides to what Things really look like.

I especially like the trees, through which Things may now, at this time of the year, be seen, unlike in the boring old summer.

And I especially like all that blue sky.

Saturday February 16 2019

On Thursday, perfet weather was perfectly prophesied by our brilliant short-term weather forecasters, and I journeyed to the Dome and places south, to take a closer look at The Optic Cloak:

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And then yesterday afternoon, following a similarly prescient forecast, forecasting similarly perfect weather, GodDaughter2 and I, as recounted yesterday, walked through Hyde Park:

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That being one of the accompanying sculptural collections next to the Albert Memorial, which at the moment I think I prefer to the Memorial itself.

I basically spent today recovering from all this self-propelled travel.  You, like me, are not getting any younger, no matter how young you may now be.  But this expression is only used by people of my kind of age to describe how I felt after two such days of exertion.

Friday February 15 2019

This afternoon, GodDaughter2 and I walked from the Royal College of Music, up past the Albert Memorial, then through Hyde Park to Hyde Park Corner, and then on to Soho Square.

At Hyde Park Corner, GD2 directed me to this sculpture, which I never knew about until today:

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GD2 likes this, especially at night when it’s lit up. 

This guy also likes it.  This guy, on the other hand, hates it.

Me, I’m not sure.  It’s very striking, was my first reaction.  But now, I’m troubled by the way that, because the head is pointing downwards, the cut through the neck of the horse seems like a real cut, rather than just a sculptural convention.  It made me think of that famously gruesome horse’s head in the bed scene in The Godfather.  Perhaps more seriously, I feel that the way the neck is cut like that makes the shape of the object as seen from a distance excessively determined by the cut, rather than by the fact that it’s a horse’s head.

The problem is that, what with this sculpture being called Still Water, the horse’s head has to be pointing downwards, because the horse is presumably drinking that water.  So if you want only the horse’s head, that head has to be cut off, one way or another, and any way that happens is liable to count for more than it should.

Saturday February 09 2019

Yes, that’s what this Thing is called:

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And, as I think you will probably deduce from the number of photos I took of it, I rather like it.

It is to be found just south of The Dome, and I got a look at it from across the river when I visited Docklands, pn Thursday January 17th of this year, where I also took other photos, like this one, and these ones, and these ones.

I don’t really know why I like this thing so much, but I surmise that part of it may be that it contrasts itself with the surrounding banal architectural rectangularities not by being completely different, but by being more subtly different.  Sculpture often seeks separation from its urban surroundings by going totally curvey.  No straight lines at all, except maybe in the form of a flat plinth.  This Thing stands out too, but in a more dignified and respectful way.

Plus. It’s a lot of fun how different it looks depending on the exact direction of any sunlight coming towards it.  I only got about two versions of this, but there are surely many more to be enjoyed.

Plus, it’s bigger than your usual Art.  I like that.

Soon, I will return to that part of London but an extra Tube stop away, and I will take a closer and more 360 degree look at this very pleasing Thing.

Friday February 08 2019

When I was a kid, “Air Forces Memorial” meant this building which looks out over Runnymede, and which was only a walk away from where we lived.

But there are, of course, several RAF Memorials in London, and here is a photo I often try to take but seldom do very well with, of the eagle which perches on this memorial:

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This eagle usually comes out blurry, with only the trees behind coming out well.  All that reflected light off the gold of the eagle seems to frazzle the brain of my camera.  But not on the Monday before last.

The above photo was taken from the other side of the river, with maximum zoom.  Swivel to the left a bit and you see this even more famous item, which is now, as already noted, smothered in scaffolding:

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I especially like the pile of staircases on the left of the scaffolding.

Sunday January 27 2019

There was a meeting in my home last Friday, at which Simon Gibbs spoke, most eloquently and engagingly, about “What Libertarian Home Has Done Right”.  (I made him choose this title.  He is far too modest to have chosen it himself.)

Also on Friday, at this blog, I had already featured a cat photo, taken by my friend Dominique Lazanski.

What I had not expected was that Dominique Lazanski would get a mention in Simon’s talk, but she did.  Very favourably, as a Libertarian Home speaker who did much to soften the atmosphere of a series of meetings that might otherwise have remained rather beery and blokey and not sufficiently female friendly or, to use a word Simon likes a lot and which he himself epitomises, not “kind”.  Libertarianism is, after all, all about making the world better, which definitely includes kinder.

I had been intending to put up more than one Dominique photo on Friday, but meeting preparations meant that only the cat made it, that day.  Here are all the other photos I had already liked and set aside for here, along with a photo of a cup of coffee, which I added to the collection to get the number back to a convenient one:

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Click and enjoy.  Most of these little squares are mere excerpts from the originals, so you will have to click to enjoy.  But even if that doesn’t appeal, the basic point here is that Dominique Lazanski is, like many others these days, someone who combines taking very good photos with having a very full life doing other things besides taking photos.

This is the big photography story these days.  This big story is not how good the very best photographers, the Real Photographers as I refer to them here, are at taking photos and how very, very good their very best photos are.  No.  The big photography story these days is how good people like Dominique Lazanski are at taking photos.

To find out more of who Dominique Lazanski is, go to her website, or to here Twitter feed.  To explore all her Instagrammed photos, go here, that being where I encountered all of the above photos myself.

I chose my favourites, partly by particularly noticing the last two and the most recent of the above photos when they showed up on Facebook.  In addition to being a Dominique Lazanski friend I am a Dominique Lazanski “friend” on Facebook.  And the rest I found by simply clicking through all of her Instagrammed photos very fast, and noticing which ones I found myself pausing at.

Those drinks are included because I drank one of them myself, on Christmas Eve.

It could be that I am mishandling the Social Media, again, and spilling beans that are not mine to spill.  If Dominique finds out about this posting and informs me that she regrets it and would prefer to be living in a world which did not contain it, then this posting will be expunged forthwith.

Sunday January 06 2019

Photoed by me in April 2005:

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This.

Busy day.

Wednesday January 02 2019

I just posted something at Samizdata about a talk I’ll be doing for Christian Michel this coming Sunday, i.e. January 6th.  A rerun of this, basically, but with my thinking somewhat further advanced.

In the course of my homework for this posting, and for the talk itself, I came across these two rather fine images, which nicely illustrate the two history dates loom large in my story, the invention of the printing press …:

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… and the invention of the electric telegraph:

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I found these images here, and here.

Note how all the books are German.  A major impact of printing being nationalism.

Friday December 28 2018

Samizdata Supremo Perry de Havilland likes hippos.  A rather disconcerting thing that happens to you from time to time if you are a Samizdata contributor is that if you do a posting, but forget to add categories to it, the default category that gets added automatically is: Hippos.

So, anyway, yes, Perry likes hippos, so a friend of his gave him a hippo for Christmas.  It was presented to him at Chateau Samizdata on Christmas Eve, where I was also present.

I photoed it:

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Trouble is, the hippo is all black, and my camera didn’t do very well.  (The above result reminded me of this Samizdata posting that I did last year, about a very black sort of black.)

I tried lots of photo-editing, but I’m not sure that this was really much of an improvement:

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But yes, this really is also a bottle opener.  (I’m pretty sure it’s this one.) The friend who got it told me beforehand that it was a bottle opener also.  Would Perry really want it, if the bottle opener turned out not to work very well.  I said: if it’s a hippo, Perry will want it.