My first gallery stop today was at King's Place Gallery, a commercial space that i read about in the book Quiet London. It was indeed quiet. The gallery also seems to occupy much of the building's foyer space. Most of the building houses the offices of the Guardian newspaper. There was a show of abstract paintings on by Sandra Blow RA. Many of them looked like tube maps. Or maybe that's just me.
As i left the back of the building i found myself on a spur of Regents Canal, thick with canal boats and of course the Canal Museum.
On my way to my next gallery stop i cut through King's Cross Station to see the famous platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter. The powers that be have installed half a luggage cart against the wall so you can have your picture taken and it looks like your running into the magical platform from the film. There was a weird, hilarious vibe amongst those in the queue waiting to be photographed, one of the most charming and dopey tourist traps i've ever seen.
here's how the photo is suppose to look....
There was quite a lineup to have your picture taken with the luggage trolley, and many of the people there were dressed up in costume. There is a girl whose job it is to hold the scarf out behind you to make it look like you're running.
beside this very popular luggage trolley is a gift shop of course. and it was very busy and yes i bought something.
You can buy a school tie or scarf, a quill or even a fancy wand. and all the books of course.
From King's Cross i carried on and passed what is perhaps the fanciest Travelodge i have ever seen. We're use to staying at the ones on the motorway so this looked abit more plush.
This is the Gogosian Art Gallery, one of the biggest art dealers in town. Interesting show but no photography allowed. Stern male gallery attendants in every room in black suits and with beady eyes, so i wasn't able to stuff a Warhol in my bag.
From there i found my way to the Dairy Art Center, tucked away down a small street near Russell Square.
The exhibition at the Dairy was based on the idea of islands, real and metaphoric. It was an interesting show.
On an island there are palm trees made of old rubber tires.
One of my last stops was at Persephone Books on Lamb's Conduit Street. They publish female authors from the 1930/40/50's. I bought the sequel to Miss Buncle's Book, Miss Buncle Married. My suitcase is getting very full.
This morning after saying goodbye to my lovely B&B hosts at Captain Bligh's House i traveled north of the river back to the Lincoln House Hotel. It felt abit like going to a different city. After stowing my bags i set out across Hyde Park to find the Serpentine Gallery. And here i am outside the gallery with this lovely rock pile by Fischli and Weiss. Doesn't my head look rock shaped?
There were two stunning shows at the Serpentine which have reopened after an expansion project. The first was Marisa Merz and was not photographable, but was full of good things including a wax violin. The second show was Adrian Villar Rojas and was a total knockout.
This is the extension on the new Serpentine which will open shortly as a restaurant.
As you enter the gallery you are confronted by this elephant made of clay supporting a replica of the cornice moulding from the outside of the gallery. The artist also created the brick floor. The uneven bricks made a sort of musical clinking as you walked across them.
As you went around the corner the walls became this modulated and cracked clay surface which led to a small door.
Inside the door was a room filled with glass and steel shelves loaded with clay pieces. Fruit, figures, tires, abstract pieces. It was a stunning inventory that recalled the ceramic display at the V&A in its scope and abundance. Some of the figure pieces were especially interesting.
After that spectacle, and with some time to kill i wandered over to Kensington Palace. The garden was lovely and the cafe was not bad. Unfortunately the palace itself was the worst kind of tourist trap, clearly designed to shuffle the masses through. Yuck. The display of Diana's dresses was particularly creepy.
The most arresting thing in the palace was the beautiful shadow cast by this lamp in a stairwell.
After a cleansing walk back through the park (really it was like having tourist cooties) I headed over to the Wallace collection to meet a friend and see this beautiful show of male nude studies from the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, and a leisurely afternoon tea.
Buzz Me In
Another day scouring London for cultural satisfaction and good coffee. Both seem to be everywhere. I started my day (after working for a couple hours this morning) in the fancy galleries in Mayfair and around Bond Street. A mixed bag of the wonderful and awful, some who let you take photographs and others not. The thing i really dislike though is having to ring to be buzzed in. Is Mayfair that dangerous a neighbourhood?
First up was Damien Hirst and Felix Gonzalez Torres. The Gonzalez Torres were a pleasure, but the Hirsts were unconvincing.
Next up was Zhang Enil and Lutz Bacher at the ICA. Both were interesting though Enil's painted room could have been a little more forceful
And possibly the best part of the day these charming cookies at the ICA cafe
Today's selfie is brought to you by the Saatchi gallery....
It was also very blowy here last night and there were alot of transit disruptions and trees down.
Most of the roads around St James park were closed
And this crane fell over on top of the Foreign Office
But Westminster Cathedral was unscathed.
I also walked by the St Ermin's Hotel where Rod and I stayed on our first ever trip to London back in 1992 i think. It looks much spruced up since we stayed there.
So Saturday, after going to the Postmans Park to take some pics i walked back across the river and over towards the Hayward Gallery. Outside of it i was greeted by this strange and large sculpture. The figure on the left is probably about 25 feet tall. Is it the Queen mopping up? Who knows....
Beside the Hayward Gallery which is in an evil brutalist concrete bunker, there was this charming food market, which was very busy despite abit of drizzle. I stopped and had a chicken and tarragon sausage on a toasted ciabatta bun with slaw. Yum.
There were two interesting shows on at the Hayward, a Cuban artist, Ana Mendieta and Dayanita Singh. Unfortunately no photography allowed. But i can say that the people looking at the exhibition were mostly stunned into silence for a change. You can see in the plaza in front of the Hayward how they've installed some colourful sculpture to try and offset the evil brutalist bunkerishness of it all. And where is the front door? Around the back of course. Tsk.
In the evening i went over to the Tate Modern after dinner, where i saw these ghostly birch trees outside the gallery.
Inside the Tate you can take all the pictures you want so here are a few of the things that struck me. Thomas Hirschhorn's use of packing tape and mannequin heads...
Chen Zhen's reconfiguration of a chair and some prayer beads.....
Pino Pascali's use of knitted steel wool.....
The way this unidentified woman stood in front of this Tracey Emin....
This very simple but powerful Philip Guston....
And finally, who can resist the intimacy and drama of a beautifully painted Francis Bacon portrait....
Postmans Park is a small plot of land wedged between a couple of buildings in the City part of London. The thing that makes it really interesting is the memorial to ordinary citizens' acts of heroic self sacrifice created by George Frederic Watts in 1900. Here are some pics....
And here's a more recent one.....
Tucked away at the fringes of the park are some old headstones which makes me think this use to be a cemetery.
I went on a little field trip yesterday, since it was a pleasant morning, out to West Brompton Cemetery, another of the suburban cemeteries. There were a few joggers and mothers with prams, but it was mostly quiet and somewhat neglected. The one area of the park that was being maintained was around a group of plots for war veterans. I've been noticing how often we memorialize our war heroes. It made me think of the Postman Park in central London which memorializes acts of bravery by ordinary citizens. I will try to get some pictures of it.....
Tunnel of Graf
Taking a shortcut yesterday under Waterloo Station i stumbled into this tunnel of authorized graffiti. Feast your eyes.
Sticking with the Captain Bligh theme, and given the good weather i decided to go to Greenwich today on a river boat. Hopefully no walking the plank involved.
The Painted Hall. If you photograph up towards the ceiling you don't see the throngs of schoolchildren.
My feet on either side of the Prime Meridian. And those are my favorite shoes.
The Tulip Staircase in the Queen's House which is now an art gallery
Looking back towards Canary Wharf. It's amazing how twisty the river is.
Ship in a bottle outside the National Maritime Museum. This was one of the pieces from the Trafalgar Square 4th Plinth Project. Glad to see it found a new home.
These are the measurey things upon which all our rulers were based until we went metric.
The Cutty Sark
Waving goodbye to Greenwich.
Gosh i am feeling like such a tourist. Transferred over today from a hotel to a self catering apartment on the south side of the river. I'm staying at Captain Bligh's House which was yes the \Mutiny on the Bounty Captain Bligh's House. It's right across from the Imperial War Museum
After dispatching J to the airport this morning for his return flight i came down here on the bus and got settled in. Hopefully i'll be able to get some work done here as it's larger than a hotel room and i can spread out abit.
Once i'd checked in i headed up to Westminster Abbey which i hadn't visited since 1992 when it was in fact free to enter. The admission is now 18 pounds, and that's not a suggestion, thats the price. Also no photography permitted inside the Abbey but i snuck a couple anyway
Here's a picture of the very top of my forehead.
Pretty Shadows in the cloister....
Westminster Abbey is also the site of Britain's Oldest Door. I like that they recognize that
Walking back to the south bank i took this picture of the london eye cause the sky looked so pretty behind it.
a tale of the Canada Council International Residency in Paris, France.