Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Brian Micklethwait on Why I like Cricinfo
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Most recent entries
- The new Tate Modern extension from inside Blackfriars Station
- Brexit graphics
- Brilliant Brian’s Last Friday talk
- Referendum day graphics
- Big Things and viewing galleries in the Square Mile
- Why I like Cricinfo
- English is weird
- The Union Jack’s near death experience(s?)
- New York construction cranes in action
- Some thoughts on the Izzard effect
- Lioness eats camera
- An MP murdered
- A great new bridge in Iran
- Lions - Bears - Blackhawks
- An electric car recharging itself in The Cut
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
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Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
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Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
China Law Blog
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Counting Cats in Zanzibar
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Category archive: Sculpture
Taken by me earlier this month:
Blackfriars Station being the one that has its own bridge.
I’ve not yet checked out this edifice, but of course I will, Real Soon Now. Equally of course, it’s what I will be able to see from it that now excites me, rather than any of the stuff I might encounter in it. That top layer of windows looks like it has an open balcony in front of them. I hope to get out there. You can read all you want on the internet about arrangements like this, but there is no substitute for actually going there and seeing for yourself.
But, there is also the matter of other photoers to photo. They may be photoing the stuff inside. If I come across them doing this, then I will, even more of course, join in.
One of the more intriguing consequences of the not-now-so-very-recent (what with another one coming along) Scottish independence referendum (which happened in September 2014) was that, rather suddenly, the world (by which I really mean: I) suddenly found itself (myself) contemplating the idea of the Union Jack flag disappearing into the history books. Had Scotland gone separate, the Union Jack would surely have had to be redesigned. I would not have regretted Scotland detatching itself from England, in fact I would have voted for this if I could have. But, I would have regretted the passing of the Union Jack, if only because it is such a great design, so recognisable that it is capable of being endlessly mucked about with, while still remaining the Union Jack.
The new, non Scottish version of the Union Jack might have looked a bit like the bag on the left here, as we look:
That snap was snapped in 2015, after the Scottish referendum, but I don’t think those designs have anything to do with politics. They’re just simplified and rather dull variations on the Union Jack theme. The one on the left just happens to look a lot like the Union Jack minus the Saltire. (Saltire is the Scottish flag, right? Yes.) But what does the one on the right signify? In terms of the flags that go towards the Union Jack, it takes the blue stripes from the Saltire and turns them into a background for the red bits of the Welsh and English flags. So actually, it’s just a blue bag, with bits of red Union Jack-ish stuff on it. Maybe there was also a red one with white Union Jack-ish stuck on, to complete the red white and blue set. I might never have bothered showing the above photo here, if it hadn’t been for the Saltire subtraction angle.
I had already been snapping Union Jack snaps, since quite a while before that moment of the Union Jack’s possible moment of disappearance. I long ago added “funny things being done with the Union Jack” to my mental photo-category list, alongside such things as bald blokes taking photos, utilitarian and commonplace footbridges, taxis covered in adverts, Big Things seen from a long way away in among foreground clutter, and so forth and so on. But, since that earlier referendum, I have been taking photos of Union Jacks with particular zeal.
Here are a couple of very recent Union Jack snaps I did. The first is of some flip-flops, on sale at the Parliament end of Westminster Bridge:
I reckon it’s the cellophane that gives that its artistic effect.
And here is a London taxi wing mirror:
That taxi décor isn’t part of an advert. It is just a taxi decorated with the Union Jack.
And then, while I was ruminating on a posting along these lines, came this piece of graphic Union Jackery, from the Spectator, to decorate their decision to back the Leave campaign in the forthcoming EU referundum:
This reminded me of a picture I took in East London five years ago, of some Art:
I could continue, with yet more Union Jack snaps, but I will end with some more Brexit propaganda. Still on the flying theme, just before I took the above snap of how fabulous Britain will be and will feel if we Leave, here, taken just moments earlier, is another Artistic-type picture of how ghastly things will be and will feel if we Remain. That’s the EU there, trying and failing to take wing, because its bureaucracy is far too big and heavy and its wings far too feeble and misshapen, crushing us as it plummets to earth:
Are you thinking that there really needs to be a Union Jack on that car, to make this point even clearer? But that’s exactly point! The EU scrubs out the Union Jack. Look! The Union Jack is nowhere to be seen! The EU has totally obliterated it! What could be clearer?
Slightly more seriously, the EU’s rulers will not be happy until they have driven the Union Jack into the history books, not by breaking up Britain, but by swallowing it and turning it into either fuel for itself, or shit. The only Union they want, and want celebrated with a flag, is their own.
So I photo this guy outside Westminster Abbey who is wearing a Chicago Lions shirt:
Later I ask him what sport the Chicago Lions play. He doesn’t know, but the magic WWW in the sky knows, because it knows everything that there is to be known. Turns out the Chicago Lions play rugby. I couldn’t find any Chicago Lions shirts looking like that one, that colour. But I could find no other Chicago sports team called that, so that must be it.
In the course of googling I also came across some Lion statues in Chicago, and further news of how these Lion statues were made to wear Chicago Bears helmets (American football), and Chicago Blackhawks helmets (ice hockey):
Such is the world. Such is Chicago. Such is the internet.
I love to write about digital photography, and have been tracking the selfie phenomenon since long before the mere word was invented, way back in the days when I referred to digital photographers as Billion Monkeys (which I don’t anymore (because some people thought I meant Muslims)). (But also way back in the days when I didn’t worry about showing the faces of strangers, the way I worry now.) And I also enjoy often public sculpture, especially of the more recent and less abstract sort.
So, I love this:
There have been complaints, of course, such as from all the commenters there at the Daily Mail. God forbid that vulgar people should find this vulgar statue so much fun. Sculpture is Art, and Art isn’t supposed to be amusing.
One of the Daily Mail’s other photos is of bloke photoing himself with his own mobile, in front of the selfie statue. But I prefer the more subtle response that consists of simply being photoed joining in, thus:
For once, the statueness, so to speak, of the statue, the fact that it is made of monochrome metal rather than realistically painted to look like real people, works really well, because it contrasts so nicely with the real people. It helps that it seems to be exactly life size.
One of the idiot grumpy commenters at the Daily Mail said that Sugar Land is a stupid name and they were obviously desperate for some attention, which they have never had until now. But wasn’t there a Goldie Hawn movie called The Sugarland Express, or some such thing? Yes there was. Early Spielberg. But, is Sugar Land the same as Sugarland?
According to a later Daily Mail report, it isn’t only their grumpy commentariat that objects to this statue. Could this be because a lot of people heard about this story partly through the Daily Mail, and those people being the sort that hears about things via the Daily Mail, immediately started objecting, because they object to everything. Whereas, the ones who liked it hadn’t heard about it so much.
I first found about the statue via Amusing Planet, so of course I was already self-identified as the sort who would be amused. It was just that the Daily Mail had better pictures.
Yes, quota photo time. I have spent the day doing ... other things, and am in that familiar tizz of having to shove up any old thing before going to bed. So here is another snap, to add to the one I earlier showed of all those bridges, of that model of the City of London, in the City of London, which I visited last Saturday:
The point of this picture being that it doesn’t just show what is there now. It shows what it is intended will soon be built.
The biggest of those Big Things there is, I presume, this.
Isn’t it terrible how horrible modern skyscrapers are ruining the view of the Gherkin.
I was very proud of this photo of seven London bridges ...:
… when I first posted it here.
Today I took another photo of these same seven bridges:
I wish this model included Westminster as well as the City, but it’s a model of the City.
I like trees without leaves for many reasons. One is that you can put them in front of Big Things and still see the Big Things.
And another is that without leaves in the way, I get to enjoy the peculiar sculptural effects contrived in and on trees by the pruning process.
Consider this photo, which I took this February, looking across Vincent Square towards Parliament and the river:
Ignore the wheel with the bobbles on it. Forget the pointy tower on the left. Consider those trees, and the strange shapes of their branches, caused by pruning.
A particular effect that such pruning causes is when a quite thick branch is lopped off, and the result is like a fist, holding lots more much thinner branches.
Here is another photo, taken down by the river in 2010, which shows that effect:
Again, forget about the spiky footbridge in the middle of the picture and that crane behind it, which is obviously what I thought I was photoing at the time, with the trees as a mere frame. Look at the trees, with their big thick branches, that suddenly stop (because of pruning) and then burst out in all directions with lots of much smaller branches.
The photo I’ve been able to track down in my archives that best illustrates this effect is of some trees at the junction between Rochester Row and Vauxhall Bridge Road:
I seem to recall that Rochester Row has lots of trees thus truncated, which I also seem to recall photoing, several times. But I was unable to find any such photos.
What this particular snap shows very well is how the tree, once pruned, sometimes sort of blows the end of itself up into a balloon, before the new branches finally manage to burst out, hence the fist effect. I’m thinking especially of what happened on the right in the above picture.
The reason I went rootling through my archives for snaps of this sort was that when walking along beside the somewhat distant-from-London reaches of the New River, in the vicinity of Enfield, with GodDaughter One last Saturday, we encountered the most extreme example I have ever seen of a tree that has been pruned into a different shape to the one it would naturally have adopted.
Feast your eyes on this:
Is that not one of the weirdest things you have ever seen? It looks more like something for swimming in the sea than like a tree.
This snap was snapped at one of the entrances to Enfield Town Park, or Town Park as they call it in Enfield. You can see the New River in the background. Had we succeeded in sticking closer to the New River at that particular point in our wanderings, we would have missed this.
What was the pruner thinking, I wonder? Did he think that he had ended this tree’s growth? If so, shouldn’t he or someone have painted over the top, to stop it growing some more? Or, was he actually going for this effect? Was this some kind of experiment? Who can say? Whatever the explanation, I’m glad that this was done and that I got to photo, and to bring it to the attention of the world, this remarkable effect.
Indeed. While searching through the archives for this picture, I came upon this one:
I’d just seen a Superman v Batman poster in the tube, so this 3D Batmovie advert jumped out at me, metaphorically speaking. The photo was taken in May 2008, so anyone who cares can work out which Batmovie that would be.
I like the highly appropriate architectural background. That being, I think (supercommenter Alastair may want to correct me), County Hall.
Here’s a Superheroine, photoed moments later:
I’m guessing that’s Lara Croft.
Later I took this snap, of the appendages of a slightly less superheroic figure:
The South Bank of the River Thames abounds with people dressed up in strange costumes, soliciting money. I say not so superheroic, but these figures do at least remain superheroically immobile.
Now that the weather has at last changed from wintry to springy, I am about to go out to take more snaps, and I wanted my blogging duties here done before all that. And now they are.
Last Thursday, I said I would be checking out the Big Olympic Thing, and I did. The expedition was very satisfactory. I got there. I purchased, from a human, a one-year season ticket for a tenner. I ascended to the top. I took photos. I came home again. And I shall return to the B(ig) O(lympic) T(hing) and take better photos, from it if not of it, or at any rate different photos (see below).
First sighting of the BOT, as I emerged from the Westfield Shopping Centre:
Scaffolding, good. Trees mostly without leaves, good.
I still wasn’t sure how to get there exactly, but I was, as the sportsmen say, in the right areas. I asked around, and found my way, and while on my way photoed this part of a bigger map, concentrating on the area I was in at the time:
My destination is described on this map as “Arcelormittal Orbit”. It’ll never catch on.
Photoing maps when on photo-expeditions is very good, especially if the map says “you are here”, somewhere in it, which alas this one does not. Even so, this map shows where I went pretty well.
I started at the DLR station, in the clump of transport signs to the far right. I went through the pale blue expanse that is the Westfield shopping centre, along “The Street”, and then along “Stratford Walk”. Then I emerged into the open and negotiated my way past the “International Quarter”, following that big red arrow that points towards the stadium, and by then it was pretty clear.
Neither the area around the BOT nor the BOT itself is finished. There is a notable lack of any enterprise selling food or drink, and the whole place now has the air of a holding operation.
Here, for instance, was the seething mass of humanity with whom I competed for space on the lift to the top of the BOT:
Next, I’m looking out through the top of the BOT to the Big Things of the middle of London, which as you can see are actually quite a way away. Below is the Olympic Stadium:
I took closer-up shots, of course, of which this is my favourite:
The reason this shot is my favourite is that it aligns two Things you don’t often see aligned, namely the towers of Tower Bridge and, right behind them, the three-eyed Thing that is the Strata. At the time I thought I was photoing only the Strata. It turns out I was photoing an Alignment of the sort I so much like, but by mistake. I love it when that happens.
6k, in a comment on my earlier BOT posting, asked about The Slide. He’s talking about this, which is a graphic I saw at tht top of the BOT just as I was leaving. I left in rather a hurry because the BOT was closing, hence the rather sloppy nature of this snap:
But, as I often like to say about my pictures, you get the picture. That is what The Slide is going to look like. More about that in the Dezeen posting about the BOT Slide that 6k kindly linked to.
6k asked if The Slide is finished yet. Answer: It has hardly started. Not started at all in any way you’d notice. See the next picture but one below.
Meanwhile here is another graphic that I photoed, at the bottom of the BOT, on the outside:
What we see there is how the view from the top of the BOT looks when the sun is off to the side rather than straight ahead, as the sun was in all of my photos of those Big Things. And when a Real Photographer is on the job.
Memo-to-self: Some time quite soon, I shall be consulting the weather forecast and making a trip out to the BOT again, in the morning.
Second-to-last shot, showing the total absence so far of any Slide action, and the Olympic Stadium, soon to be occupied by West Ham United:
Note once again the insane competition from massed humans for the facilities on offer. Not.
I will end with a shot of the BOT and a crane, snapped from just outside Pudding Mill Lane DLR, which is one of my favourite DLR stops if only because of its name. This makes the point yet again that this whole area is very much work in progress rather than finished. The Slide is yet to come, as is a lot of other stuff:
See the very bottom of the map snap above for the location of Pudding Mill Lane. As you can see from that snap, even despite its truncatedness, there is a lot of Olympicness for me to explore that I did not explore on this particular expedition. Like I say, I shall return.
Getting properly out and about again after my winter hibernation, as I did earlier this week to Victoria Park (it’s easier to scroll down past yesterday’s Gulf Stream posting than to follow those links), reminded me that there are other major viewing spots in London I have yet to check out.
Such as, for instance, this Big Thing:
Yes it’s Anish Kapoor’s Big Olympic Thing. Now that all the Olympic fuss has died down, and most of the people who fancied visiting this Thing have visited it, and they’ve finally finished making it as good a Thing as they can, getting into this Thing and up this Thing and to the top of this Thing may finally be a buyer’s market, rather than a hell of queueing and crowding and barging. I tried the website, to see if I could buy a ticket remotely. But as so often with me, I couldn’t make it work. So, I will go there this afternoon, and see if I can buy some kind of ticket, from a person. If that doesn’t work, then I think I recall seeing a phone number I could ring. I also seem to recall the webiste mentioning an Old Git season ticket for an entire year that costs hardly more than a single visit. That would be great. I do love to go back to places, after I have looked at the first lot of photos and worked out what I was actually photoing.
Whether they will sell me a ticket face-to-face or not, I will still get to check out the fascist expanses of the Olympic Park, or whatever it is they call the big pointless spaces outside the Olympic Stadium.
Part of the top of which is visible in the above photo, which I took from the footbridge at Hackney Wick Overground Station, on my recent trip.
Late this afternoon, looking up Victoria Street. Taken, I rather think, from the middle of the road, to get the cloud behind her in the right spot.
If I die trying to take a photo, so be it.
Also, on her right, some of the new buildings at the top end of Victoria Street.
It’s already deep into tomorrow morning, after my meeting. It went well, but (or and) I am now very tired.
For the purposes of this posting, bike fishing means fishing for bikes. Not: fishing while on a bike.
Favourite line in the report:
Bike fishing has become one of Amsterdam’s unique tourist attraction.
My immediate reaction was: So, anyone can do it? Do you need a license? But what they really mean, presumably, is just standing there and watching while somebody else does the bike fishing.
A bike fishing competition might be really something. And it still might be if it was fishing while on a bike.
Other recent favourite Amusing Planet posting: The Lady of the North.
I spent a lot of today doing an elaborate Samizdata posting with twelve photos in it, and now I am doing the same here. Most of these ones are just of the I Just Like It sort.
Whether I have the time and energy left after posting the photos to say something about them remains to be seen. Anyway, here they are, one for each month, in chronological order:
Okay, let’s see if I can rattle through what they are, insofar as it isn’t obvious.
1.1 was taken outside Quimper (which is in Brittany) Cathedral, where they were selling that sugary stuff on a stick called I can’t remember what. I stalked the guy for ever, until he finally obliged by sticking his sugary stuff on a stick in front of his face. Never clocked me, I swear. Although, when others stalk me when I’m photoing, I never notice them.
1.2 is the amazing coffee making equipment owned by the friend also featured in these earlier pictures.
1.3 is the men’s toilet in the Lord Palmerston pub, near Suicide Bridge, photoed soon after I took those.
2.1 explains itself. 2.2 is Anna Pavlova, reflected in the House of Fraser building in Victoria. 2.3 was taken on the Millenium Footbridge.
3.1 is 240 Blackfriars. What I like about it is that in some photos, such as this one, it looks like a 2D collage stuck onto the sky, instead of a 3D building in front of the sky.
3.2 is the new entrance to Tottenham Court Road tube/crossrail station, outside Centre Point, seen from further up Tottenham Court Road.
3.3 is the Big Olympic Thing, seen from Canning Town railway and tube station. A tiny bit of it, anyway. To me, unmistakable. To you, maybe an explanation needed.
4.1 shows me photoing shop trivia, in this case a spread of magazines dominated by the scarily intense face of one of British TV’s great Tragedy Queens, the actress Nicola Walker. I first clocked her when she was in Spooks. Now she’s in everything.
4.2 and 4.3 are both film crew snaps. 4.2 features a London Underground Big Cheese, who is a bit put out to find himself being photoed by the wrong person instead of by his own tame film crew. He was drawing a lot of attention to himself, so I reckon him fair blogging game. 4.3 is another film crew, in Victoria Street, just loving the attention, who will be ecstatic when they hear about how they have hit the big time. I like how there’s a movie advert on a bus right behind them.
There, that wasn’t so bad. Although there are probably several mistakes that I am, as of the smallest hours of 2016, too tired to be fixing.
Happy New Year to all who get to read this.
In the summer of 2012, there was lots of sculpture made with plastic milk bottles in and around the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Part of it looked like this:
I remember greatly enjoying this at the time, when I chanced upon it on June 9th 2012 (which happens to be the same day I took these photos of Cannon Street station and St Paul’s and its surroundings, and this photo of a lady wearing sunglasses and holding two cameras). It helped me enjoy this sculpture that I did not know what I know now (through following the link above), which is that this was in aid of the Olympics.
I came upon this while searching for Wicked Camper vans. More about that later. Maybe. I promise nothing.