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Category archive: Sculpture

Friday November 13 2015

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:


My thanks to 6k for alerting me to this.  Dezeen gave this pleasing piece of urbanity a write-up, but I might have missed that.  I probably wouldn’t have, but I might have.

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.

Thursday November 12 2015

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.

Thursday October 22 2015

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.

Thursday October 15 2015

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.

Sunday October 11 2015

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.

Tuesday September 29 2015

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.

Friday August 28 2015

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. 

Not that Gandhi as he was was anything like what he is now cracked up to be.  (Thank you Instapundit.)

Monday August 10 2015

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:

image image imageimage image imageimage image imageimage image imageimage image imageimage image imageimage image image

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.

Digital photography ballet
Two photographers photoing me
Lining things up behind the Royal Festival Hall
London dragon
Pavlova reflected in double glazing
Two strangers photoed by Mick Hartley and shown there (and here) without their permission
Two more Pavlova pictures
Ballerina and crane
Why I mostly write about architectural design rather than about interior design
A Shiny Thing and a friend also photoing it - with an iPhone
More Big Olympic Thing photos
A Shiny Thing by Frank Stella Hon RA
Big 4
Giant cat head worn by a human
CATable at the Building Centre
The receiving station at Swains Lane (and the previous version of it)
From a cat cushion to Bill Murray and a nude to a demon horse sculpture that killed its creator
Bean drops snow on tourist
Pavlova with a new building and a passing bus
The rise of (interest in) 3D printing
Is 2007 old enough?
Anish Kapoor photoed next to his big shiny balls
BMdotcom (mathematical (and sporting)) quote of the day
Hand done photos
Cats in Quimper shops
Hirst’s Hymn outside the Tate Gallery
To Covent Garden (3): Cat that looks a bit like a dog
Christmas tree with scaffolding
To Tower Bridge: Shadow selfie – Peace memorial – Big Things old and new
Phone (and cash) box
The Poppies (4): Bald Blokes photoing them
Quota photo from Paris (also a selfie)
The Poppies (3): People taking selfies
The Poppies (2): The crowds
The Poppies (1): What they look like
Shard shots
Friday photo-puzzles
The illustrations for Christian Michel’s talk this Friday (plus some thoughts from me)
Halloween buckets
Big cat advertises guide dogs
Photographers in Tate Ancient
The ballerina and her support act
Ballerina with cranes again - this time with added spy cameras
Quota ballerina with cranes photo
Out and about in the sunshine
Back from France (plus cat photos)
Sacred architecture and profane roof clutter - a speculation
Colossal fun
What is this Thing?
A Bobcat digger and the Coade Lion from the back
3D printed structural joints and another Gormley man
The Dragon Bridge of Da Nang
Pavlova with cranes
Leaf Cycle
Big Blue Cock photos
Noah – Cosi at the Imax – Big Blue Cock
James II dressed as a Roman
Lego bridge in Germany
Star car
Finally working out what I liked about those Gormley Men
Art has its uses – but where did it have its uses this time – and what is it?
Photographers in the spring
3D printed baby in the womb
Blue wind
Don’t judge a new technology by its first stumbling steps
A quota post (with a quota link to a post about a post about a quota photo) and another quota photo
Faberge - Brutalism
Temporary art made of brightly dressed people
6k quota photo of sea
Sandcastles that will live for ever
Ice sculptures in Docklands – Big Things from Docklands
3D printer sighted!
Dog wearing funny spectacles plus electrical clutter
Ballerina with crane
Sculpture at St James’s Tube
The Kelpies of Falkirk
Michael Jennings photos the bridges of Porto
Crows nest made of coat hangers
Owl at Canning Town railway station
Photoing each other - and photoing stuff in the canal
A day in and around Olympicland with Goddaughter One
Quota photo of a bucket of plastic crocodiles in an otherwise deserted shop window in Oxford Street
Savoy cat
Stairs Thing outside St Paul’s
Wedding photography (3): Technology as sculpture
A mannequin in Tachbrook Street sheds light on the nature of perception
Art without Artists
Cheap hippos are hard to find
Skull made of skulls in gift shop street
New crane up
Croydon cats
Little Lady Liberty - still in France
Photographing Kreod
Bomber Command Memorial pictures
Latest C4 logo sculpture
Quota frogs
76 operas and a monument in the wrong place for Hermann the German
Quota hedgehog sculpture
Another pub
Another Assembly of Men
Gormley’s South Bank Men
Blue Men on a boring building in Borough High Street
Giant bull held up by scaffolding
Cool sculpture
Giant Jesuses
Tiny Cardboard Box People Appear All Over Singapore
A picture I want to remember
Cats with human faces
As strong and sweet as the free market itself
One man’s intellectual theft is another man’s marketing
Everybody draw Mohammed every day!
Quota swan
London is about to be Kapoored with a big new Olympic Games Thing
We’ll always have Chelsea
Scaffolding ball
Eros under an umbrella
Giant Bean covered in mirror
The Min-Kyu Choi folding three point plug
Decorated hippo
As found roof sculpture
Johanna Kaschke versus the Deluded Leftwinger
The Labour Party finally agrees on a new Prime Minister to replace Gordon Brown
Dripping table
Structural decoration
Cat blogging and Gormley blogging
What The State looks like
The Wheel through some Art
The towers of London from the Copper Horse
Another strange Staines statue
Roll out the Lino
Not Billion Monkeys!
An abstract view of Kings Place
More sticking up stuff
Big head and big something else
Resizing Slim with Expression Engine
Pictures with words
A sculptural suggestion
Classic car thinness
The return of Friday cat-blogging
Twickenham shop attacked by the Dark Side of The Force
Exciting posting about shelves
Celebrating a victory
Not a hot day in January for the Billion Monkeys!
Billion Monkey scrunched up in a ball!
Reflections in a Belgravia shop window
Three proper photos … and three Billion Monkeys!!!
Spherical trouser sculpture
More St Pancras snaps
Manhole cover cats and Angel of the North shelves?
Yes this is cat blogging
American war memorial by the sea at St Nazaire
Berlin Billion Monkeys photo rat and cheese sand sculpture!
A squinting cat and a master ephemerist
Further pictorial shallowness
Rokeby Billion Monkey!
Cat sculptures
More Magic Andy sand sculpture
Magic Andy makes magic dragon
The Mainstream Media finally get around to noticing Andy and his sand sculptures
Random London snaps from last year
Kiev cat
No more photos for a bit after these ones
Alice in Fortnum and Mason
Everyone likes Magic Andy
Should blogs - this one in particular - specialise?
Bartók outside South Kensington tube
The Ben Pimlott lump
Old media
And then I went home happy