Thursday, July 31, 2014

ALO – Hail to the Loser at The Saatchi

 At Saatchi Gallery last night there was a chance to see latest works of Alo  the Italian 'Street Artist' now working in London.
A crowd was drawn

I suppose the English way is to favour the loser, I'm not sure if this works in Alo's favour but he too worries about the downtrodden and those at the bottom of society, his work reflects the interest he has for these people.

Saatchi Culture on a warm summer's evening

Note the use text and the 'African ' feel

There was evidence of quite a bit of interest in the work of Alo (or was it the lure of many  trendy folk getting together and free drinks?) - he's a former student who abandoned his studies when he  decided to make his life that of a street artist, he left Perugia and moved to London where he's now started making studio work as well as his offerings on the streets.

In fact there were customised prints for sale at yesterdays private view and they were going like hotcakes, £150  hotcakes.

 On display there was a video showing Alo doing these customisations.

Alo Cites  influences that include the gamut from Punk to  German expressionism and certainly if I didn't know better I might think that the man hails from Africa, he does say  “I grew up surrounded by books of African art and I think those unknown artists are geniuses”

The artist as a young man

Alo's work uses text and is often (as is so much) untitled, his materials are often what he can find.

- I'm not sure about the talent/technique  but there's certainly a lot of hard work and energy on display and street art is still 'hot' as the interest in  Banksy has continued to show.

A video showed the customs work

Each one is made 'unique' by Alo's intervention on the print

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

From This to This - The new West Ealing A2Dominion building and Check your Tesco 'Meal Deal' bill

The old building as it is prepared for demolition
It's around 18 months that has passed between the first picture and the second, the former OPEN Ealing site which has been transformed into A2Dominion Housing Group offices - in fact the new cladding makes quite a difference and the effect is not altogether unpleasant.

The offices are on the Uxbridge Road in West Ealing and not too far from the 'Artist's impression' that was produced ahead of construction.

Almost finished

Check your Tesco bill
Tesco Meal Deals - check 'em.

I've a sneaking feeling that it happened before - you're out there with the trolley, your persuaded by an offer - today it was a main course, a desert, a side dish and a bottle of wine  for £10 - well fortunately we looked at the bill before we started the return to home - no discount was shown, we went to the customer desk  and the money was returned (over £8.00) without a fuss but be warned - it seems that sometimes what's in the deal is not clear as happened here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

CityLit - 'The Business of Photgraphy'

The studios are around the corner from
CityLit HQ
Last night was session  number 1 of a 3 session course on the Business of Photography at Citylit in Kean Street.

Taking the course was an experienced practitioner Grant Smith who has been working at a photographer for something like 30 years and  freelancing for over 20 years  of that.

Grant outlined the course and the way that photographers are moving more to the ranks of freelancers and are living with 'portfolio careers'.

In fact much of the self employed photographers' work is concerned with the business side of things, and Grant underlined the importance of invoicing, insurance and data management and of course the importance of satisfying the customer/client.

University of the Arts London-  images

As I had allowed plenty of time for my journey to Holborn I used the this to look at some works at the UAL showroom. 
The work in the showroom was very accessible and had clear messages, I liked the pictures amongst others the one below by David Ottley 

One by David Ottley

More Work(s)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hanwell canal

When I returned to London after the 'great ITV strike of 1979' I moved into a flat in West Ealing  with a group of people working at the BBC, I was at the time a trainee engineer at ITN in the centre of London.

The flat was a 2 bedroom room first floor place and eventually (for a while) the flat tenants were just  three of us ( and in addition I seem to recall a sometime temporary office working 'Lothario' called Simon).

During a summer in the flat (perhaps 1980) the Fox in Hanwell became one of our regular pubs, it was walking distance, admittedly a fair walk but being tucked away from the main roads and close to a canal it seemed almost like the countryside.

At the time the landlord there was a big (and slightly intimidating) Rolls Royce owning Brian Shacklady, well Brian has long since gone and the pub is now verging on the genteel but the canal keeps the slightly rural feel of the area going.

Originally the British canals were used as they were here  to transport industrial materials but now are more associated with leisure and canal boats are used by some in London as an alternative (cheaper) place to live than more conventional housing.

The lock-keepers on the canal here are volunteers and they're often on the look-out for fresh ones.

Here are some snaps of the canal in Hanwell..

They were originally used for Industrial transport

Messing about on the canal 
Reflecting on a lock

Saturday, July 26, 2014

More Central London Photo's that are calling out to Load digiKam and an Electric carpoint

Well if I'm in the right place with all else as it should be I take photo's - here are couple from the last week showing CentrePoint, Regent Street (25 years of Magnum)  and some building/demolition near Tottenham Court Road Station.
Not a Tom Selleck in sight
Where's the point?
Centrepoint as well as being an example of 1970s property speculation is associated with the homeless charity of the same name.

25 years of Magnum (not the PI) - well what more can we say? - nice ice lollies.

Well Oxford Street and the area across to Warren Street is undergoing change and this is just another example -it really is impressive when a large scale project in the very heart of the shopping district like this creates only limited problems

Where does the 'Barney'  (rubble) go?


As my photo collection grows it becomes a challenge to manage the images.

So that I can use and access the collection the website Tom's guide offers a quick tour of some of the tools that are out there (software ones) and I liked the look of digiKam  so have loaded it and will try tagging and using as my primary Photo' database tool.

Electric cars

I liked this too- while I was there a guy plugging in reckoned he got a shock -hopefully just static.
Not Centrepoint but Electricpoint

Friday, July 25, 2014

BANKSY The Unauthorised Retrospective and a (Haute) couturier's blue plaque

Sothebys have seen the signs
Even without the great National and International Public exhibitions in London there are a great many smaller Public and Private shows that it's worth seeing.

Wednesday used to be the Art day for me (and the group of CityLit enthusiasts), well this Wednesday was a bit like that too.

One of the many delights of London is that when one is wandering one can delight  in the serendipity of the city but it was still something of a surprise for me to notice as I wandered a  gallery that was showing.
Banksy -The Unauthorised Retrospective Curated by Steve Lazarides, it was on (and is today) at Sotheby's S/2 Gallery but it's (sadly) the last day (25th July).

You can see a video of Steve talking about the history and the exhibition here.

Banksy has been working up his own style for around 20 years and retains  mystique of a latter day Bristol based Scarlet Pimpernel, the exhibition at Sotheby's is curated by his former agent Steve Lazarides.

Unlike Bridget Riley there is a very human touch and his work can at times contribute quite a biting commentary to ur consumerist superficial lifestyles but it does not show the depth of technique one might really relish, to my mind there is more of the political cartoonist than the great artist - having said that many of the works do bring a smile and his art references (for example the 'Moss Warhol' work) show something of his ambitions.

Banksy's  Homage to another post modernist

Frocking Hell area of London

This neck of the London Woods is where seriously expensive shopping is done and the posh frock brigade is a stones throw away from the galleries - as can be seen by the shops in the snaps . Here  is the shop (and plaque) of Norman Hartnell  (former supplier to our Queen) and seamstress supreme (perhaps) Stella McCartney's shop is near too.
Norman Plaque (actually far more modern)
The shop that houses the plaque

A Stellar Shop

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bridget Riley on show and (as well) a Hopper-esque or maybe Mafia-esque view?

Yesterday I made the trek, in extreme conditions ( a very hot underground journey)  to see The Bridget   Riley - The Stripe Paintings 1961-2014 retrospective at the rather delightful David Zwirner Gallery in central London, it is free and is it is finishing this week so if you're interested time is running out.
It's a nice space.

Well the news is that Bridget Riley is still going strong at the age of 83 and continues to work in an abstract style.

I first became aware of Riley in the 70's as  pretty much the inventor of Op Art (which to came after Pop Art)  and for her work (as I saw it) on the Faust Tapes album artwork  which was in fact Crest.

To me a few looked very much like this one
At the time I like the work she was doing as it had an immediate (not subtle) effect on the senses - in 2012 I saw work of hers at Tate Modern and  last year I was lucky enough to see one of Bridget's works at the Timothy Taylor gallery both of the events  helped to re-ignite my interest in the Op art field (admittedly a small field).

What I became aware of in seeing the '  The Stripe Paintings' was that Bridget has moved on from her 60s work around black and white works which sort of 'tricked' the eye and was now working, mainly with colour to create different effects.
A Riley work from the 1960s

While I still relate to the works I saw I must say that for me the thing that Riley's work lacks (almost more than any artist I can think of) is emotion, it doesn't surprise me that Riley has others make her technically adept works while she concentrates on the design or that she draws on ((as in 'is influenced by')  Mondrian and Seurat (amongst others) for inspiration. Riley like so many of the British artistic firmament was an Art  teacher for many years and has lectured, written extensively  and curated many fine exhibitions by other artists over the years.

Interesting too that Riley was one of the guiding lights behind SPACE which works to provide affordable  working studios for artists in London. Here's a video with more of her work...

Shades of Hopper

After viewing Riley's work I snapped a little and rather like the image below which to me has something of the Hopper about it - rather pleased too to see that  'Hopper-esque' has a definition as befits it.

A conversation I'll never hear

And was also interested to see this quote on a wall in town it's from Louis-Antoine Saint-Just 1767-1794 who had quite a way with words and here's a link to a bit about it and the artist (Ian Hamilton Finlay) who created the work.
Written on the sidewalk wall

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The greenest lawn in the street?

I was interested to see a neighbour of ours having an artificial lawn installed, the guys who did it  worked very professionally and  quickly (about half a day for the job ) and the overall result is very good.

The overall job is a bit like laying a carpet and good preparations seem to be key to a pleasing green garden.
Like underlay

The warm summer is undoubtedly having an  effect on our lawn - which is already something short of the Wimbledon standard so I can't really blame people looking for at alternatives.

There are some real advantages to the use of a non-natural lawn, although  uncurling the electric cable for a trim takes longer than mowing the grass and it'd be nice not to need to do it or need to apply feed and weedkiller.

I guess it's going to be puzzling for wildlife and I'm not sure what messy pets will make of it if they try to 'use it' overall if too much of this was used I don't think it would be environmentally good news.

A Green and Pleasant Lawn
Let's face it this is the sort of surface used at many sporting venues and it does a pretty good job.

Easigrass was the particular solution used and it'll be interesting to see how the product manages with the weather over the next months and if it fades from the very lustrous green that is now presented.

(It all reminds me of the US sportsman when asked the difference between real and artificial-   he said 'you can't smoke artificial surface').

Here's a video showing what's involved

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Challenges for all and A wild guest

That blue Sky doesn't belong in London does it?

I was out on the streets of West London - it felt (and looked a little) like Miami, Florida but in the heat of the city we're not all having a great time.
Not just the streets that are mean

Apart from complaining about the weather or our finances there are other things that many of us struggle with, loneliness, angst and the past hurts  we can't shake off which leave us as prisoners of our histories.

Those who don't have the blissfully contented life that advertisers promise us-  and in truth most of us do go through some ups and downs  that go to make up  'a whole life'  need to find coping mechanisms

For some the mechanisms might be trips to the gym or the occasional 'bender' but for others where the struggles are greater then human support is often needed and sometimes medication.

A start for some

Jules Evans this week mentions distraction theory he  regularly offers some excellent  insights through his personal experiences as well as his academic studies and points out the value of things other than examining the problem - as well as 'the examined life' we need to live a life and if fishing or shopping help you then they might be part of your solution.

It can be a mistake to think that people do not want to change but I believe that the mistake that we (society) continue to make with so many good intentions is to treat people as a a mass rather than as individuals - the idea that you can fix someone with 2 hours a week is patently nonsense - the solution is complex and requires tailoring and nurturing as well as institutions and procedures it needs people, attention and care - we can all be part of this but  it perhaps means less' I and me' and more 'us and we' if that doesn't sound too glib.

If we reach out to people who we think might need someone to listen what's the worse that can happen? (that's rhetorical by the way)

A wild guest 

Having started Cucumbers, Courgettes, Vegetable Squashes and Melons I have one Melon that's survived and doing okay (touch wood).

Yesterday evening when I was watering my Melon plant (not a euphemism) I saw something jump and on closer inspection was  surprised to see that the creature moving was a frog!

A few of my neighbours have made ponds and this is good for helping rebuild  wildlife.

I left froggy and hopefully he scuttled away to somewhere warm and wet.

Mr (or Ms) Froggy
What I was watering 

Monday, July 21, 2014

BBC and the youth. Coffee shops and a Sunflower

Well I'm really pleased to see that Evan Davies is to take the chair at Newsnight that Paxo has vacated (although saddened that he'll be leaving the BBC Radio 4 early morning news programme) Evan is to my mind a very bright cookie but he's also a bit of a maverick and risk taker and should (I hope) bring something new to the show.

 But sadly this new 'bum on a BBC2 seat' might not mend the skew of audience that  BBC TV suffers by virtue of its super serving of the over 60s as this item from Informitv tells us - odd then that the BBC should look to marginalise the BBC3 TV service which does at least try to reach the younger section of the population

Cafe Zee

Cafe Zee has now opened in Ealing and despite my moans about yet another coffee  shop  it does look rather promising - I'm sure I'll give it a try soon.
Good luck Zee

Sunflowers in the sun

Van Gogh might be rightly famous for them (as a reflection of happiness)  but that doesn't mean others of us can't use the image...

It's funny how you can just look away for 5 minutes and something has come into bloom - I didn't go to the allotment on Saturday and when I went on Sunday several Sunflowers were in bloom.

I took half a dozen or so pictures of a single bloom but as is often the case (for me) the first one is the one that  I like best, the bloom is nicely in focus and the slight blurring in the foliage behind creates an effect of depth, the yellows almost sing as they compete with the sun itself.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hot for the domestics

Eye-ing up
We've got a regular visitor in our garden - he/she doesn't seem to like our company too much and runs when we approach but the creature  has found a nice spot to contemplate the world from.

I couldn't spot the cat at first and when I did I managed to take a picture through the dining room window using the Zoom capabilities and crouching down.

Again full marks to the Canon camera - nicely picks up the colours but also the fine whiskers even from about 10 metres through double glazing..

I wondered how cats manage in this weather (and dogs too for that matter) found this article and now admire the felines even more.
Just spotted his vest at first

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Kew the Music- my Spice girls shame

Yesterday  on what has been billed as the hottest day of the year (so far) we went (again) to see Jools Holland in Kew Gardens.

Behind the tasteful shirts - The Stage
There was a support act that we caught some of, a striking looking American songstress (Nell Bryden) who actually had a pretty good voice and has  written strong songs including one covered by Cher.

Jools seemed perhaps less ebullient and more like he was going through the motions, he had two 'Special' guest vocalists.

Marc Almond, who I first saw in the flesh in the 1980s working on a 'pop promo' as part of Soft Cell at ITN's studio 2 actually looked healthy and seemed positively happy (not what I would expect of him) 3 songs which included Say Hello -Wave Goodbye and (of course) Tainted Love - which has quite a story having been a Northern Sould hit for Marc Bolan's partner many years ago .
The Concert comes alive as night falls

The other guest was Melanie C who seemed pretty enthusiastic, since seeing her I've got Never be the same again stuck in my head.

The concert was okay but it seems that the space has been re arranged and feels less roomy considering that we bring our own food and chairs a cost of £40 plus per person is looking a bit high.

On the Plot

Good to see a cucumber forming and also the Sweetcorn is moving towards being 'as high as an Elephant's Eye'.

Cucumber No.1 

The corn - not on the meadow

Friday, July 18, 2014

Reflecting on Allotments -Picture of the week (number 7)

Simon's vintage shed and flowers made it as Picture of the week
Going like Hotcakes

That time of the week again and well it was nice to see a different sort of Picture of The Week in this weeks Ealing Gazette (by me again though), not a building site as such.

Simon (a neighbouring plot-holder) often asks me to offer a picture of the allotments so I offered up a picture of his shed (it's to my mind a nice shed) and it was published in the paper that's now available.

 In truth taking the picture did make think about the pleasure that I get from growing and cultivating, there's a real sense of community with others down there - we actually are nice to each other and supportive, people say pleasant things and seem to mean them - if you are thinking about taking an allotment I would recommend it, good honest toil that produces things you can eat (or give away) seems to me to be good for the soul (and the soil)

Here it is anyway (below) and the picture pre-publication is above, and  the words were ..

THIS shed surrounded by wild flowers looks 'more like an impressionist painting of the French countryside than a west London allotment', according to Tim Bourne, who has a plot at Northfields allotments.

He said: "Recently someone asked me as I went to through the allotment site gates If I was going into heaven  I didn't at first realise what she meant but as I looked around later, particularly at this neighbouring plot, it made some sort of sense."

Copies are available 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Politics - Creating a winning team?

A view of Westminster
The last few days of the UK's political news have been dominated by the Cabinet reshuffle instigated by Prime-minister David Cameron- which in itself is something of an achievement.

But to what ends are the changes directed?

If it is to create an electable team the effort along with the No. 10 comings and goings has probably been worthwhile - It may be that for the next 9 months the job of PM as Cameron sees it is to get the best result he can for the Conservatives from the 2015 General Election, little of substance is planned, the main aim is to avoid the 'potholes and pratfalls' which could lose the Tories the prize of a majority in the House of Commons.
An earlier Tory PM

There are political commentators who make the judgment that David Cameron is not a 'conviction' politician and as a former Director of Corporate Affairs (PR) man at Carlton TV there is a case to say that his specialty is more concerned with surface than substance.

Well if this is the case then he has an opportunity to use these skills to  make his party electable without need for a coalition in the next term- it is said that 'Oppositions don't win elections but  governments lose them' - As the economy improves; via it should be said largely the strength of the service sector and increasing consumer confidence Team Cameron need to make sure that they avoid major calamities primarily in Health and to a lesser extent Education.

So what is needed is a group of people who appear in control and have the clam reassuring manner of  trusted professionals - expect photo opportunities to reflect this.

Cameron has addressed the issue of male domination in the cabinet, perhaps largely through spin but the perception is everything and if the story is about women in the cabinet then the  story and the pictures the media have been using will help give the impression that there has been a 'real' change in the gender balance of the Government.

How will Labour and to  a lesser extent the Liberal Democrats look to take the initiative back, can Ed Milliband make his team look like Modern Britain and offer a positive vision for the next 5 years? - to be honest it is a major challenge and while unity  behind the leader  looks  to be an issue it's difficult to imagine Ed sweeping into Downing Street, the best at present that some Labour supporters can envisage  is another hung parliament with a Labour/Lib Dem  arrangement of some sort.

The one thing that could mean all bets are off would be damaging revelations within the corridors of power on  politicians sexual  misdemeanors with minors- this I see as a possible Tory Achilles heel (and perhaps Labour too) -worryingly  if something terrible does come to light then that will mean UKIP have a real chance of some power .