Brian Micklethwait's Blog
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Most recent entries
- Peter Foster on Robert Owen
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- Couple photoing their own shadows
- Standing on boxes to interview Irfan
- What is this iceStone device?
- Filling in a Meaningless Triangle near Kensington High Street tube
- A Morris Minor advertising a ping pong night club
- Going to Kings Cross to see gas holders
- The sexiest statue in London?
- Rain on netting
- Calories defined
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Category archive: Sculpture
Because of the uncannily precise weather forecasts with which modern civilisation is blessed, I know that today will be a great day to be going out, which I have not done for a while. And I intend to check out this, which is a gas holder that has been tarted up into a big old public sculpture stroke small park inside:
There are mirrors. I like mirrors. Mirrors make for fun photos.
Also, notice how, in this other picture, …:
... it would appear that they (Bell Philips) will be inserting a block of flats into another nearby gas holder. Cute.
I’ll let you all know how it is all looking, at the moment. Assuming I manage to find it and it’s not still a building site behind barriers. With these kinds of things, the internet can only tell you so much. By which I mean that it could tell you enough so that you wouldn’t have to go there to check it out, but it generally can’t be bothered. So, since it’s only a short Victoria Line journey, I will go there. To check out not only the Thing itself, but to see what other Things I can see from inside it, framed by it.
Not to say the sexist-est. Those Victorians often used to let their hair down in public. It’s all around us, if only you are willing to look at it and see it. It’s only a matter of time before the feminists start defacing such things, because they are already in a state of fluttering Victorian spinsterish hysteria about the sort of feelings expressed in this statue.
This statue is in honour of Sir Arthur Sullivan. A while back, I and Alex Singleton did a recorded conversation about him, and about Gilbert of course.
So yes, In among yesterday’s picture archive rootling, I came across this amazing picture:
That picture, like yesterday’s effort, was taken in 2010, by which time I was in the habit of photoing the bit on statues where it tells you what it is. So I had no trouble learning more about this statue today. The great thing about the internet is how you no longer have to do “research” when you write about something like this. All that is required is a link, and all is explained, by somebody else.
And the somebody else at the other end of this link, “Metro Girl”, has this to say about this amazing statue:
Situated in the slimmer part of the gardens nearer to the north-eastern exit, it is located looking towards The Savoy Hotel. Sullivan and his frequent collaborator, dramatist WS Gilbert were closely linked to The Savoy Theatre, which was built by their producer Richard D’Oyly Carte in 1881 using profits from their shows. Gilbert and Sullivan’s last eight comic operas premiered at The Savoy Theatre, so it is only fitting that the Sullivan memorial is so nearby.
And, more to my particular point, this:
The monument features a weeping Muse of Music, who is so distraught her clothes are falling off as she leans against the pedestal. This topless Muse has led some art critics to describe the memorial as the sexiest statue in the capital.
Not knowing every sexy statue in the capital, I can’t be sure that this is indeed the sexiest. But I’ve not seen anything to top it.
Vanity Fair piece about Frank Gehry. Key paragraph:
Things progressed slowly from there, as the architect continued to work more audacious swooping and compound curves into his designs. Eventually he found himself hitting the outer limits of what was buildable. This frustration led Gehry on a search for a way to fulfill his most far-reaching creative desires. “I asked the guys in the office if there was any way they knew of to get where I wanted to go through computers, which I am still illiterate in the use of,” he explains. Gehry’s partner, Jim Glymph - “the office hippie,” in Gehry’s words - led the way, adapting for architecture a program used to design fighter planes. As Gehry began to harness technology, his work started to take on riotous, almost gravity-defying boldness. He dared to take the liberties with form he had always dreamed of, fashioning models out of sensuously pleated cardboard and crushed paper-towel tubes. He always works with models, using scraps of “whatever is lying around” - on one occasion a Perrier bottle. “I move a piece of paper and agonize over it for a week, but in the end it was a matter of getting the stuff built,” he tells me. “The computer is a tool that lets the architect parent the project to the end, because it allows you to make accurate, descriptive, and detailed drawings of complicated forms.”
“Frank still doesn’t know how to use a computer except to throw it at somebody,” ...
I smell a classic two-man team there. Gehry dreams it. And this guy called “Glymph” (ever heard of him? - me neither - I got very little about him by googling) works out how to actually get the damn thing built. To quote myself:
Even when a single creative genius seems to stand in isolated splendour, more often than not it turns out that there was or is a backroom toiler seeing to the money, minding the shop, cleaning up the mess, lining up the required resources, publishing and/or editing what the Great Man has merely written, quietly eliminating the blunders of, or, not infrequently, actually doing the work only fantasised and announced by, the Great Man.
Glymph now seems to be on his own, although you can’t tell from the merely institutional appearances.
In general, the role of the Other Sort of Architect, the one who turns whatever some Genius Gehry figure wants into something buildable, and which will not be a mechanical disaster, seems to be growing and growing.
I found that picture of Gehry’s epoch-making Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao here. The VF piece identifies this as the most “important” building of our time. Architects love it. The public does not hate it.
Maybe one day I will get tired of seeing The Wires! In photos of new Japanese buildings, at Dezeen. But I am not tired of it yet:
Other Dezeenery I have recently liked: colourful buildings for an ugly square in Eindhoven; a big sculpture that looks like a giant tooth, made (by a robot) entirely of pebbles and string (which means the pebbles can be used again and again); packing more people in an Airbus; scepticism about the creative class theory of urbanisation.
Also: a cardboard car. Lexus. Drivable. But not with a cardboard engine, surely. No, they cheated there. It has an electric motor, housed in an aluminium frame. This is not an exercise in engineering. It is advertising. Caused by the fact that in car adverts you are less and less allowed to say anything sensible, with mere words. Car adverts now remind me of cigarette adverts in my youth. They were like that for the same reason.
Man on horseback – and cranes
As quite often happens, some of the better pictures I took on my recent Richmond expedition were taken right at the beginning, near to where I live.
When I set out last Thursday, I found that a new bike lane is being constructed along my side of Vauxhall Bridge Road, which has caused my usual bus stop for making my way to Vauxhall Station to be abolished. On my way back, I discovered that this bus stop had simply been moved back up Vauxhall Bridge Road a bit. Had I turned right instead of left at Vauxhall Bridge Road that Thursday morning, I would quickly have found the relocated bus stop. Instead, I turned left, and walked across the river to the station.
With the result that I saw the strange sight of a man on horseback, beside the river (it was the final remaining one of these four). That having got me into the swing of photoing, I also, just before entering the station, photoed a rather fetching (because of the light lighting them and the sky behind them) crane cluster, craning away between Vauxhall and Waterloo.
The cranes, I decided, needed to have some buildings to their left cropped off of them, which turned the snap into a square. And the man on horseback also worked as a square. So, squares they are. Click on them, and you get bigger squares.
What I particularly like about the cranes is how vertical they mostly are.
Photography is light, and in this rather odd photo the light was coming from behind the object I photoed, making it look … odd:
But there is no way to take this photo again, because just after taking the photo but before looking at the photo, I chopped the object into bits with a bread knife and stuffed the bits into a black plastic rubbish sack. The point here being that Modern Life is all about getting rid of clutter, an in particular, packaging clutter.
Like so much packaging clutter, this piece of packaging clutter was amazingly beautiful in its making, being of a very elegant, abstract sculptural shape, and made of a sort of cross between polystyrene and sponge of the sort you wash with. Its structural strength and its ability to look after the piece of electronics it was cushioning, on its journey from China to me, had all been perfectly calculated. How can you just throw something like this away? But, you must, or you will drown in such stuff.
The packaging industry has clearly been one of the great growth industries of the late twentieth century. Remember when you used to buy sweeties or paper clips or screws from a bloke in a brown coat, who would shovel them into a brown paper bag, and decide what to charge you by weighing them with a pair of scales? Perhaps you don’t because those days are now long gone. Now shops selling sweeties or paper clips or screws sell them in small packages. Nobody weighs such things in shops any more. The little things cost about twenty times as much, per little thing. The packaging also includes anti-theft devices. The process of selling is speeded up.
Supermarkets still weigh certain sorts of fruit and veg, but I bet they are working flat out to get rid of the need for that, by regularising the size of individual fruits and veges, and by packaging them in ever more cunning ways, with the price already decided for each package, and with the weighing done way back in the supply chain. (When they do, I might consider using those shopping robots in supermarkets.)
All of which involves literally tons and tons of packaging. And a discipline of modern life is knowing that such packaging must be binned, no matter how handy you might think it might come in in the future.
Equally troubling to me is cardboard boxes. These also have to go, and often that involves chopping them up, so that the bloody bits will fit into bins. When I say “bloody” bits, I am not just swearing, I am describing. Recently I cut my hand while doing this. The cushiony thing above was, on the other hand, very easy to carve into bits, and by its nature did not threaten my hands in the process, the same cannot be said of cardboard.
The ultimate expression, so far, of the urge to package is the shipping container, which has literally transformed the economy of the entire world. Imagine if everything you bought came inside those and you had to chop those up, until the bits fitted inside bin bags. I would have died of self-inflicted wounds long ago.
I like statues, by which I mean that I like the statues that I like. Statues that I like don’t read where it says on my blog that I like them, and then say things like “But you never visit”, when I visit. They don’t say things like: “So, now that you are visiting quite often, what is this? Where is this relationship going?” In decades and centuries to come, maybe statues will behave in exactly this sort of troublesome way, but for now, they don’t. They just stand there.
And, they stand there immobile, which as a rather crap photographer, technically speaking, I greatly appreciate.
Here is a recent London statue that I now like:
That’s also another in my ongoing series of Great Photos Taken Rather Badly, which you, oh Real Photographer, can now go and take better. Big Ben won’t have moved. Nor will the legs of the recently unveiled statue of Mahatma Gandhi. Today, as I write this, looks like being a lot sunnier than it has been in London for quite a while.
(New Gandhi statue unveiled in “London’s Parliament Square”. Interesting how hitherto national organs now aim themselves at the whole world. The media they are a-changing.)
I only recently noticed this Gandhi statue. For decades Parliament Square had no Gandhi statue. Then, it had one.
A friend of mine has a young daughter who is a very promising ballerina. Young and very promising ballerinas tend to find themselves being guided from time to time by quite significant ballet persons, and I have urged my friend to pass on to any significant ballet persons he meets that they ought to do a ballet based on the antics of us digital photographers.
If any significant ballet persons ask what sort of thing that might involve, I suggest they be shown pictures like these, which I took between 2006 and 2007:
Click on any of those pictures and you’ll see that what they’re all about is the big bodily contortions that digital photographers do, mostly just to get their cameras at the right height. But, there is also the matter of the fun and games the people being photoed often get up to. They do lots of more self-conscious posing.
Quite a few of these pictures have been posted on the www by me before, mostly on this blog. But the idea of this posting is to gather together a biggish collection of such pictures, all in one place, for the ballet persons to say: “Wow! Yes! We’ll do it! Pay the crazy blogger double whatever he asks to let us look through his entire photo archive!”
There’s a whole other clutch of pictures showing digital photographers and their hands and fingers. They wave their fingers about, just to keep their fingers out of the pictures. Ballet people would like that too. In the absence of more pictures here, they could just walk over Westminster Bridge and watch the photographers doing it. Because, provided they are only using small cameras, the photographers do this all the time.
Me being me, there is no category here for “dancing”. So, “sculpture” will have to do, as in humans making sculptures of themselves.
And that’s not to even mention the whole selfie thing, and the amazing human sculpture making that that can involve.
On the left (June 2007), one from the Bald Blokes collection. He is photoing me through a bit of abstract sculpture that regular walkers along the South Bank, between the Wheel and the Royal Festival Hall will recognise. And I photoed him.
And on the right (June 2015), well, it’s me photoing me in a mirror. But what I like about this photo is not that it is a self-portrait, The sight of me I can take or leave. No, what I like is the contrast between the colourfulness of what we see reflected in the circular mirror, and the much more muted reflections to be seen in the shop window behind which the mirror rests. Neither on their own would create much of an effect. Put them together, and you have something, I think.
Click on each to get the big pictures.
I like this:
Which is why I put the picture in my “I Just Like Them!” directory, and why I am putting it here now.
The picture was taken by me, on July 11th 2007, assuming my camera at the time was not lying to my computer at the time.
I see several of my photography recipes already in action. Recipes like: by all means photo cliché Big Things like The Wheel, but put The Wheel in front of or behind or next to something else interesting, otherwise all that the picture of The Wheel will be is just one of the many million pictures already taken of The Wheel.
And actually there are two interesting things besides The Wheel in this picture. Obviously there is the stellated whateverhedron that dominates the picture, which is the kind of thing that constantly comes and goes from the strange little space behind the Royal Festival Hall. The Royal Festival Hall being the grey lump on the right as we look.
But now, take a look the far end of the roof of the Royal Festival Hall. There’s a little figure standing up there. And, I can tell you at once that it is one of those Gormley Men. It is also clear to me that I was jiggling my camera around to as to get that particular Gormley Man standing in a good place to be seen through the stellated whateverhedron.
I still remember those Gormley Men fondly.
Busy day today, so another photo taken yesterday evening, at the southern end of Blackfriars Bridge:
You can find lots of pictures of these dragons, but not so many photos that look the way mine does, with a blurry Big Thing and a blurry crane in the background.
Or so I assume. I can’t think what else might have created this effect:
Yes, it’s quota photo time, and that Pavlova statue on top of the Victoria Palace Theatre never fails to charm.
I took lots of similarly double glazed photos of Pavlova at the time I took this one, this one being my favourite.
A new category is long overdue, but as of now I’m off to bed.
Here are two people whom Mick Hartley recently encountered. He photoed them and stuck the picture up on his blog. And I reproduce it here:
So, how come this flurry of privacy violation? Hartley explains. (There are several very heavy hints in the categories listed below.)
Indeed. On the same day, March 10th of this year, that I took this, I also took these:
That concrete building already looks very different, and the numerous photo opportunities supplied by trees in March are all ruined by leaves. I hate leaves. All over London there are great views, totally ruined by leaves.
Yes, again, but I do love her, especially now, when she presides over all that noisily aggressive building work all around her at the top end of Victoria Street:
Nothing says old school femininity like a ballerina, and nothing says old school masculinity like one of those extendable (but not at the time fully extended) temporary cranes. Men are here. But if here is the top end of Victoria Street, so too is the ultimate lady.