Sunday, May 31, 2015

Meal out at Urban Meadow Café and Energy transfers

Last night we finally got round to using the Red Letter Voucher we got as a present some time ago - having had a hard time using these before it was a real pleasure to find that on this occasion everything was very straightforward and painless.

The place was the Urban Meadow Café a short walk from Notting Hill gate tube and across the road from London's famous Hyde Park.

I quite liked the place too - seemed quite chilled and unhurried, which is not always the case in London Eateries - our waitress was particularly charming  which again is not always the case

Urban Meadow Café -which I think is a rather special name

Energy Suppliers

Well I've been across 'Energy Best Deals for nearly two years and am well able to understand why consumers are reluctant to make a leap to alternative suppliers - it isn't as easy or smooth as it should be.
It is interesting that one of the things Ed Miliband took on board was the failure of the Energy companies to act fairly well as well as not being fair they seem to lack ability - the problem in a way for Ed was that witrh falling oil prices energy didn't seem to be quite such a rip-off for the UK consumers.

Now I recognise the methods used in making a move and getting the best deal having spoken to many people when presenting  the CAB's  Energy Best Deal presentation but still find communication does not take place as it should - I'm still waiting for the refund of overpayment from my last supplier and waiting to be in a position to start presenting meter readings to the new supplier after about 2 months of requesting the right conditions to do this.

Let's hope the new energy regulator proposed in the Government's upcoming energy bill does manage to improve the UK's consumers treatment around energy (although sadly it doesn't appear to be the Bill's purpose which as far as I can see  is more about preserving energy supplies ) .
We need smart ones- this is dumb.

In fact to my mind the best way forward for the Energy and Water  Utilities is to change how they function and to create a market that does not punish the consumer but rewards good behaviour by both suppliers and customers, 'incentivising' efficient usage and stopping leaks (Water and Gas) should be at the top of priorities - smart meters and better use of technology  could help us with this if their use is arranged correctly.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Jeremy Stangroom confronts the Zombie question and More on framing

At the start of the year I bought The Story of Philosophy and one of the writers of this book is Jeremy Stangroom - well a couple of weeks back following Scott  (a City Lit Philosophy teacher) mentioning the 'Zombie issue' I was drawn to 'Is you Neighbour a Zombie' which is too by Stangroom in my local library so 'I borrowed it' (yes really) - it's a nice little book with topics much wider than Zombies - the format of Q&A works well - an example:
You never know

 Can you be responsible for what is unavoidable? - I won't provide the answer here but some pointers at this site.

More on framing

Well I've finally unwrapped my Logan 350-1 Mat Cutter and along with using second hand frames reckon I've got a rather nice (and viable) method of providing pictures as gifts etc.
A makeshift cutting  bench in the garage

You do need some room to work on frames and I think I need some better illumination but am at least able to start now.

What I've found is that there are second hand frames at reasonable prices  around, glass cutting (by professionals) is inexpensive  so this seems to be a good way of working.
Big enough for an A4

Friday, May 29, 2015

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Scott our Philosopher course leader  at City Lit admits to being wary of being a teacher of the  history of Philosophers rather than one of  Philosophy but  described by one of the class this week as something of  a rock-star Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein is I think worthy of a bit of biographical information.

Ludwig was the of children and famously went to the same school as Adolf Hitler, there's even a theory that a school spat was partly to influence Hitler's Anti Semitism  (Wittgenstein was three-quarters Jewish although he was raised as a Catholic) .
School for thought?

The family as well as being spectacularly rich was a large on with Ludwig the last of nine children - the family though seemed to be driven towards perfection and three of his brothers committed suicide.

Ludwig too battled depression (teaching at Schools was one method he used to battle this) and in a tragically short life (he died at only 61 of Cancer) achieved much.

He was unconventional and  on receipt of a large inheritance he gave much of the money to artists and other members of his own family.

It is a point of view that Philosophy since Ancients Greece is merely revisiting the work of the masters but the Linguistic turn (Early period Wittgenstein)   and Ordinary Language Philosophy with which Wittgenstein (later period)  is most associated with is I think significant (for me anyway), it asks questions that might help us ponder something more  of ourselves:

What differentiates man from other living creatures apart from language?

How limited are we with our thoughts until we master the words to use in assembling these ideas?

Is there an inherent language within us?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Politics of the past versus The People's Republic of Frome (and a free gift)

Yesterday saw the unveiling of the programme for Her Majesty's UK government  and it might, I fear  include  things that are anathema to many of the people living in Great Britain today.

it seems that David Cameron has come along way from the dynamic young leader who sought to lead a new sort of Conservative party and sadly (for me) the way he's trimmed his ambitions is to put the economic indicators at the centre of any measurements of what we should value in our society and he has become a hostage to the right and the anti-Europeans
Who'll be the Butt of the joke-? Not Cameron and Osborne .

Who recalls Theresa May and her vilification of the way that many had come to view the Conservatives as the Nasty Party? Well are the cuts in benefits without a corresponding targeting of the worst excesses of Capitalism  going to answer this?

How will the calculations be made to provide new homes for the many while selling on the cheap the Social housing resource?

What of the (rather rash) promise to provide time off work for community endeavours?

And why hasn't the always entertaining Grant Shapps been given a higher profile job (perhaps an easier question)?

Well despite the worries I have there is a bright new light coming from the West Country in the unlikely shape of Frome Council (a smallish town in Somerset)  and their Flat-pack Democracy - the question is how this can be made a transferable model for other localities to use to shape their own particular communities - take a look at this Guardian article about  the revolution they've started.

Reflecting on brighter days ahead 

Free Gift Casio QD -350

Resisting my Geek-ish tendency I'm keen to get rid of stuff.
Not for everyone

Last year I gave away a rather special cable for an ancient Sharp  Organiser - tidying today I found a Casio Quick Dialler 50 (there were a range of these -mine looks a bit like something out of Star Trek and is referenced in American Psycho) - anyone want it and got a use for it - let me know and I'll stick it in the post  to you (my last freebie went to the USA).

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Educative Tuesdays

Tuesday has generally been the day that I've undertaken  betterment by means of widening my knowledge and yesterday this was stepped up a gear by the addition of attendance at OPEN Ealing's History of  20th  Century Design.

Some time back I attended Nick Pearson's Modern Art at OPEN Ealing and I knew that if he delivered the Design course he'd mentioned I'd try my best to be there.

As well as being enthusiastic and knowledgeable Nick provides really great notes, for me the course is useful too as I feel it'll add some depth to what I say to those I guide around the Design Museum's Collection Lab on occasional tours.

The Design Course has a further 10 weeks to go and you can dip in and out at only £10 per go -First talk was at Singapore Road centre  next week we're at a West Ealing Uxbridge Road pop-up.

OPEN's usual home in Singapore Road

And the venue for next few weeks

Oddly enough I've just heard from the person who was the Volunteer Tour Manager at the Design Museum now involved at the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, a visit there might be worth while as it seems to be a stronghold for the 'Arts and Crafts movement' which we touched on in this the first session with Nick (and of course the V&A is famed for it too).

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

At the V&A

It seems to be the case that I don't generally end up where I aim for most Tuesdays after Philosophy class (another good one - and more on that soon).
Closed again today.

I'd been aiming for the Saatchi Gallery and as far as I could see it was open but when I actually arrived it was closed for a private function (not the film).

So thinking on my feet I decided to pay a return visit to the V&A - pleasantly surprised to end up looking at Raphael's cartoons.

It's a slightly odd story as the works  (pretty much on permanent loan from The British Royal family) were actually made to guide weavers in their creation of tapestries for the Sistine Chapel commissioned by Pope Leo X.

I was slightly surprised to find that Raphael Sanzio  had actually displaced Michelangelo as the preferred artist for the 15th Century Catholic Church.

What I liked apart from the works was the room (48a)  and the ambience around them - seemed to me the sort of place that would suit the Four Season Mark Rothkos - very calming.

Paul Preaching at Athens- one of the Raphaels on show at the V&A
I also took a quick tour around the Photographic exhibition on the 3rd Floor -  couple of photographer's works caught my eyes - first another religious theme with Sian Bonnels's study of prayer (nine  pictures I think- same model demonstrating suitable ways of worship referencing Fra Angelico's work of devotional Manners of Prayer).

Let us Pray one of nine ways
The other work was less religious but (for me) equally curious, it was by Nigel Henderson a  British Proto-Pop Artist before Pop Art had been coined as a school- he took multiple photographs  of a Rat Trap with different perspectives and then combined them.

[Lovely frames and mounts too]

Nigel Henderson's 'the Rat Trap'

Monday, May 25, 2015

Looking at our past with photographs and that £20 note, (Happy Birthday Bob)

A book about memories

Although I set myself a target to read far more books in 2015 so far I'm finding it rather hard work (in some respects) but I am currently enjoying The Rain Before It Falls by the rather excellent Jonathan Coe.

I've read quite a number of Coe's book, starting with What a carve up which referenced an early 60's film starring Shirley Eaton but didn't realise until seeing the review on this one how there's a certain connection with the also excellent Ian McKewan whose books I've also enjoyed 

What the book is about (So far) is recollections of the past by Photographs - it set me thinking how this has changed through the years - pre photography only the aristocracy (and some models)  would generally have a visual history of their lives, as Photography came to the masses so important occasions might be commemorated with photos' of weddings and other notable days - then cameras came to be within the reach of the many and so trips to the seaside and family gatherings were recorded - what a difference it will be for people going forward where an easy to use  colour camera is almost always within reach and Google catalogues them all for you.

Pictures were far more posed in some ways and a drama was often beneath the surface - I have been through a number of my father's transparencies and been taken back through the years.

Here's an old photo of mine of a family holiday in Switzerland - all tired from trying to find a place for a cup of tea and a cake (is my memory anyway).
Note my father's wearing a tie and happiness is not  apparent 

And what we can do now:
Does it scream out 2015?

That £20 note 

Don't worry I'm not asking for the £20 back..

If you're not aware there's an open invite to suggest an artist for the Bank of England to put on our £20 note.

Have you made your nomination - I’m backing Joseph Wright of Derby - I reckon he’d make a great ambassador and icon and more people would become aware of his fantastic paintings.

And Happy Birthday to the  74 year old Bob Dylan (Forever Young)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Looking forward to Wittgenstein at City Lit

Clouds were threatening 

Scott Biagi's City Lit Philosophy class is available either Monday Evening or Tuesday Morning most of the time it seems that you get a better deal with the evening variety but for me evenings offer the possibility of a nap however engaging the topic is so I opt for the morning (less of a risk for 40 winks) -and this spring with two Bank holiday Monday's Tuesday is a definite winner.

Because of these extra sessions we're going to be looking at Wittgenstein (later period) and  I'm not too sure if this weeks's philosophy session at City Lit was set up as a taster for this but it felt like it to me.

Scott did give us (semi- grudgingly) a takeaway for 20th Century Philosophy that was:

'20th Century Philosophy can be characterised as a shift away from knowledge to meaning' 

Logical Positivism did not excite me but did start a direction (for me) where language is pretty much everything and language seems very connected with meaning.

The topic of translation arose during discussions and  I did realise that (for me at least) we all translate our own dialogues form the internal almost machine language to ones own internal  Esperanto and we then in turn do our best to translate our incoming messages to something we can process - hopefully next week I'll be able to better define this!

Friday, May 22, 2015

OPEN West Ealing in conjunction with Nick Pearson -I'm Not Being Funny But ..

A couple of years back I took a really excellent course at OPEN Ealing that introduced me to some (actually quite a lot) of the background to Modern Art, the person doing the lecturing was Nick Pearson.
99 The Broadway West Ealing for OPEN popup to Sunday

Well Nick is not just a great communicator on the subject but also a practitioner and he's got an exhibition on a  West Ealing POP-UP (at 99 Broadway W13 ) through till this Sunday - it's called 'I'm Not Being Funny But '  (actually an update of last years Leeds show) and it's very much worth a visit  -I went along to the preview last night and was lucky enough to hear the artist talking about his work and his modest ambitions for his art- The artist being the modest part, the ambitions are great but certainly he's doing his bit to make people look and enjoy what's around  them.
The artist explains 

The    'art ' uses found items and glories in celebrating them and moving them from the mundane - the exhibition will be in the West end (of London) in June (1st to 12th ) so if you can't see it in Ealing try seeing it there at: The Gallery, Sheraton House, 15-19 Great Chapel Street London W1F 8FN

The works are very physical and partly  rely on re- contextualising found objects (I think) 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

More on picture framing and the joys of Hayes

Well as we get further into the framing it becomes clear why the service is not cheap- good framing requires good materials, expensive tools and skill.
Best Glaziers in Northfields Avenue

At the start of the week I went along to local glazier (Allbright Glass) in Northfields Avenue, West Ealing and I was pleasantly surprised at what was in some ways a painless (Pun?) experience - I took my frame and  just 2 or 3 quid and the job was done then and there (20mm float glass), nicely cut to size.

That though is just the beginning, I've now got my own Mount cutter and bought tape and a matt too.

Today I took the train to Lion in Hayes a really good supplier of framing materials - they even gave me a cup of coffee while I waited .

The canal, very much a nicer part of Hayes

It's some time since I've been to Hayes - I did during my university final year have an interview at EMI (and was offered a job there) - one of the dodges in those days was to arrange interviews around the country and try and make some money on expenses (not much though).

Many years later when working at BT Media and Broadcast as a Sales Engineer I visited Playboy TV UK which was (at that time anyway) above the less than exotic  Iceland store.
Where would you least expect Playboy TV to be based?

Anyway fast forward to the present today  bought an un-feasibly long piece of moulding (3.1m)and 2  large sheets of mounting board, not ideal  to transport on a train but I did this anyway,, Hayes looks like it's moving upmarket plenty of new flats under construction - I suppose another result of Crossrail.

The area will I don't doubt become gentrified - it has though, I reckon  some way to go

Building Sites and Sights in Hayes as Crossrail fuels further demand for housing in the south east

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hockney at about 77

Having enjoyed the Heroes and Villains exhibition at the Halcyon Gallery I went on to see some recent work by an artist who is arguably the most important living English painter - David Hockney.
Up to the 3rd & 4th Floor for Hockney
I suspect the Cherokees

On my way to see the Hockneys I passed who I think was Film Director Tim Burton rocking a slightly 'boho' outfit (see below).

Hockney's 'Painting and Photography' is at what I'd describe as a low key setting, Annely Juda  in Dering Street (just near Oxford Street.

I'm someone who does like the iconic works that Hockney produced in the 1960's (A bigger Splash for example), so was interested to see where he's arrived at now.

Hockney has become known for his Photography as well as his painting and much of the exhibition showed what is characterised as-  Photographic Drawing, I liked it but the reviews of this in general are not good attacking Hockney's 'Photoshop' skills.

For me the paintings were perhaps less exciting although across the works the self-referencing within frames  was entertaining - definitely worth a visit in a surprisingly quite and un-hurried space  (as before I'm not sure if many members of the public are effectively intimidated about visiting private galleries like this).

As Helena Bonham-Carter has, I too think I've seen  the back of Tim Burton

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Art in London,Wow- we're lucky (some of us)

Wow- we're lucky (some of us)

After a somewhat puzzling couple of hours on the subject (I think) of Philosophy and Logical Positivism  (where I felt the pull, perhaps intended by our leader Scott  of Wittgenstein) I went on my Tuesday  semi-routine hunt for 'Art' today's target being the new (-ish) Hockney exhibition .
Halcyon days and a gallery to mmatch

Well I had prepared by printing a map and headed for my quarry, but ahead of the navigation serendipity brought me to Halcyon Gallery in New Bond Street and it was a blast.

The Gallery's showing some work under the banner of Heroes and Villains (mainly Heroes I'd say).

I'm not really sure what the rules of the game are that mean these places don';t get flooded with ne'er-do-wells but this one trooped in anyway - Ground floor featured many works from Marvel Comics that had been slightly ponced about with and had 'Stan Lee' Signatures on along with Andy Warhol's Ads (1985) 
More Heroes than Villains

Also on the Ground floor and in the basement are several Russell Young works that had a shimmer of Diamond dust (both metaphorically and literally) - Young a British born  artist I'd not heard of has a fascinating back story and is much taken it seems by heroic icons.

Stan Lee in reflection
The basement also had work by Bob Dylan (the 'singer') he's got a table (Iron Work Table)  and a car door  (called I think 'Car Door') on display along with a Film Noir video for the classic song he's covered  'The Night we called it a Day' (at the bottom of this post  - but even better on a great HD screen) really made me smile - he's a battered old bugger but a 'great' in oh so many ways.

There's work too by Raphael Mazzuco of many legends - including a rather nice Bob Marley quote Some people feel the rain others just get wet.

 Quite a few Santiago Montoya  as well as lots of three dimensional works by Mauro Perucchetti

The show was neatly summarised by the  Spanish artist Ernesto Canovas- The Beginning (2014) - as far as I'm concerned it's all  great variety of fun items (more on Hockney show to follow v. soon).

Monday, May 18, 2015

Turtle Bay and bye to referenced artist Chris Burden

Turtle Bay- Open since last year but still has a buzz
This weekend we made it to the Caribbean in Ealing (well a  Caribbean restaurant anyway).

It wasn't our first go at dining at Turtle Bay but such is the popularity of this restaurant/bar that previously we couldn't get in - so this time we booked.

In fact looking up the name  I see it's a bit of chain (a surprisingly high 15 so far) but that here I wouldn't consider a disadvantage and what could be too individual a view on the theme might not work,

As a short review I'd say it was good - really nice to have something that's a little out of the ordinary, some questions about authenticity but I'm sure that there's some regional variations over what's called the Caribbean.
A competition too

Plenty of what you'd expect with Rothi, 'Jerk dishes', Goat and of course lots of referencing of rum - music was loud and  decoration bright - try it once at least.

Quite a mixed crowd, on the table next to us was a gentleman alone reading a book about religion as he ate- the friendly waiter pretty much yelled at him (twice) 'a noisy place to come and read your book.'

RIP  Chris Burden

Sadly now dead, I'd not heard of the artist Chris Burden until Open Culture pointed him out to me - seems a great character and has been the subject of songs by both  Laurie Anderson and David Bowie (Joe the Lion).

Saturday, May 16, 2015

St Pauls and Ealing residents stop the Wheelie Bins

It seems that I'm keeping in touch with a small group of Ex-EuroNews friends on a fairly infrequent but regular basis - on this occasion first meet was at the front of St Paul's (London).

Wesley with a good book (perhaps the good book?)

It was interesting to see a statue to the founder of Methodism John Wesley near by - I would have thought that he was a little beyond the normal Christian experience for many (in fact the truth is of course some what different) .
Village people airbrushed from History

Also nearby is a more modern commemoration to the  founding of  the YMCA  (by George Williams and friends) it's an inscribed  stone - but doesn't mention the Village People song at all.
One for Nicola?

There were (and through the day) a plethora of Shaun the Sheep statues around  which are  now beginning to get a little wearing( to me).

Having dallied a little while we made a breif trip to Tate Modern - had a look at some of the more popular works which include Whaam! (a personal favourite but only just realised it has two 'a's)

It's nice to sometimes try a different watering hole and this time the place we gave what was new to me, just by Cannon Street and called The Vintry - very nice food and a great place to chat.
Near the pub/restaurant is a lovely little Wren Church, St Mary Abchurch and sticking our heads in there we were very luck to have a mini-tour from one of the 'Friends of the City Churches' who was there.
A part of the church ceiling

After this, some time in the  Museum of London another free Museum and dry - all in all generally a pretty good day.

Ealing Residents Stop The 'Wheelie Bins'

If you don't want to have those awful bins sign the petition - you've only got a few days!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Feeding Robin -Picture of the week Ealing Gazette

Well the rain will not do plot 202 any harm..

As well as taking plenty of breaks and photo's   I've been planting various seeds and transplanting seedlings and the torrential rain of yesterday will certainly of helped them.

Petit-Pois and climbing beans are the recent additions, Broad Beans doing well - still need to get some weed free soil to move the Courgettes and Sweetcorn into.
broad beans -okay so far

Very Petit-Pois

For the Climbing beans the journey's begun

Courgettes- Waiting for a new home

[Here's my credit in the local paper and the original submitted:]
the picture published today in The Ealing GAzette

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

At London's National Gallery

From Easter onwards London is more than full of tourists and timing is everything with visits to galleries and Museums.
Forecourt of National Gallery

After looking in at Somerset House I went along to The National Gallery and it was busy - but still worth braving the crowds.

A few things I managed to spend some time looking at included major  works by Caravaggio (actually to give him his full/correct name Michelangelo Merisi  da Caravaggio ) :

The Supper of Emmaus (1601)

and  two paintings  by Guercino (who I learnt a little about from hearing the funny man actor  Kenneth Williams talking on an old radio programme about him- his real name waGiovanni Francesco Barbieri  the  name 'Guercino' is a nickname that refers to his squint ).

The incredulity of St. Thomas (1621)


Elijah fed by Raven (1510)

I had looked at religiously inspired works and hoped to detect within them some humour or irony but must say I was disappointed, I was not though disappointed by the craft of Guercino.

I also liked  The Mantelpiece by French Artist  Edouard Vuillard (new to me)  a stylised work 'The Earthenware Pot' *(reminded me of Klimt) and the painting by him that had been split into two as The Garden and The Lunch - interesting to learn of how/why he did this and find that he was alive until 1940  .

Outside the Gallery performers and 'Chancers' abound - this guy though could play the guitar:
Play that guitar

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Art for the people and sale of leaders/revenge?

In town today for another City Lit Philosophy session (more later- I promise) after this some culture and which included a stroll down the Strand, first stop though was Somerset House - not sure if the fountain within is a new addition but compared with many I've seen (including Lyon France - where I used to enjoy observing the impact it produced) it seemed a bit half hearted.
Maggi, Maggi, Maggi 

Somerset House - not the greatest water feature 

Inside though there were different stories -I'd heard of Maggi Hambling before but seeing he exhibition War Requiem & Aftermath I was struck by the diversity of themes and expressions, work used   Audio, Sculpture, Installations and even figurative paintings -it was brought to the public by King's College and I found it nicely understated.

Rather a lot of the sculptures  created from found 'items' which were enhanced  were on show in one room which made it look quite packed and perhaps devalued.

Somewhat surprised to see a reflection of some emotional themes (Mother and Amy Winehouse were both name checked) as well as there being some striking  Middle Eastern images on canvases.
Perhaps less would have been more
This Aftermath mentions 'Mother 2014'

A diverse collection includes Oil on Canvas 

After looking at the Hambling works I made my way to a Gavin Turk just at the entrance of 'The New Wing' called Now - great stuff
It's typically challenging outside at high level above the door is the  number of people estimated to be the  median of the world population this March.

Now (That's what I call Gavin Turk)

Less than a week

Seems odd that it's less than a week since the UK General Election very little evidence now to be seen in London outside of the press.

Be interesting to see how the appointment of John Whittingdale as Culture Secretary affects the BBC's future surely we're not going to see a revenge attack for a perceived (by some) bias against the Conservatives along with fresh drinks all round for the Press in the never closing 'last chance' saloon?

Well I think there might be a sale on a couple of the masks below...
Some masks have slipped