Friday, July 31, 2015

Chiswick House with cameras - City Lit course

It's odd that I've not been to Chiswick House - the location is close to home - (just an E3 bus ride away), there's a strong Beatles connection (the Promo' for their 1966 single  Paperback Writer/Rain was filmed there and how great is Rain? ) and it's a garden we might have visited from Capel Manor when I studied there.

So the trip out there yesterday in many ways felt long overdue.

A time to think?
When half a dozen or so photography enthusiasts (on a CityLit course) loose with cameras in Chiswick House grounds on a summers evening and you're going to get an awful lost of clicks and 'look at this' type exclamations - so here are mine...

You'll see some wildlife but also some people which always humanise the landscape for me.

I would say that I'm taking a little more care with the photo's and there's no doubt that the course leader, Armelle knows her subject well, she provides us with notes on the location, feedback and instruction/tips.

I've moved away from a default of Auto everything on my Canon G16 (very happy with this and if you want a compact camera it seems  you can now buy new for less than £200! ) and have employed my tripod far more - I find that the action of using this in itself provides more consideration of the composition.

 A look at the reflections

Almost painterly quality for me here - look at that lovely sky

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A taste of the Design Museum & the last of my collect Lab tours (for now)

Yesterday I was in Bermondsey again and noticed that Simon Hughes may no longer be the MP there but he's left an impression that's still dissipating as can be seen outside flats near the underground station.
He's gone now
I've been doing a couple of Tours of the Collection Lab at the Design Museum most months since the start of the year and I've enjoyed the experience.

I usually kick off with a visit to the café which offers a really nice good value lunch for volunteers and staff - it's just adjacent to the obligatory gift shop which has all sorts of cool designer items and books (check out the big Anglepoise).
A nice lunch sets me up for the tour.

That's quite a lamp

The Collection Lab is closing next month and we're going to have a new challenge doing some talk and Show around the Life on Foot which is supported by trendy footwear peddlers Camper.

A taste of the Camper show - Life on Foot.

Here  are a few views that are informed by the 20th Century Design Class Nick's been running at OPEN Ealing - Chairs of course but also a nice Eames quote .

A quote from a design 'biggie'

A re-creation of Robin Day's Studio

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Chairs along with 'Another painting and its counterpart' (Osterley)

Phone home
Last night another enlightening 20th Century Design Class - it really does seem that part of the requirement to be a Design Guru is to create an iconic chair - saw this very stylised set up in a nearby shop - not sure of the date and who was responsible for the design though.. (and look at the 'wacky' cups).

Late 50's or early 60's

Looking at Dejan Sudjic's books is also fun and nice to recognise that we've got some classics in the home too - including the old Bakelite phone shown above shame it sounds crackly but looks great.

Photo and painting

Managed to find the corresponding photo of another of the Ealing Art Gallery pictures I saw at the weekend - this one Osterley House -
Osterley House - Photo 
And the painting

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

CityLit London Photo walk (week 2)

Last Thursday was week 2 of the CutyLit London Photography walk and we covered quite a distance starting in Bethnal Green and ending at Stratford Westfields shopping centre.

The first stretch was along the canal and gave participants the chance to catch images with reflections look at  living spaces some on the water some tower blocks and to be nearly knocked in the canal by energetic cyclers and runners.
Starting place

We kicked off at Bethnal Green which is still recognisable and had a recap and some theory from course leader  Armelle.

As we got near the end the modernity was striking.
A reflection

An idea that works?

The boat displays an old line but it still makes me smile

An unreal landscape

A little abstracted

The manufactured nature of the landscape of Eat London was much more apparent as we got close to the 2012 Olympic site with suspended artefacts and Kapoor's immense sculpture.

At the end a human image of friendship jumped out at me and was the picture I was most pleased with

I've got some steel I'd like you to use


Monday, July 27, 2015

Our Corporate Headquarters at OPEN Ealing/Welshore Hub

OPEN- Our Corporate Headquarters
The activity behind 'Spike It'
Not only did I visit a public art show in Ealing on Sunday I also popped over to West Ealing's current OPEN space at Welshore Community Hub to visit on the last day of this particular collection.

The exhibition called  'Our Corporate Headquarters'  - was curated by Martin Lau and is about looking at the large section in many peoples life Work.
The result of 'Spike It'

For me this conjures up an idea of how we spend so many hours,  sitting anonymously in a large open plan office with a computer, keyboard and mouse.

The chance to speak with the curator was an added bonus to the show - Martin explained that many of his own pictures on show were taken at former OPEN premises (opposite the 'New' Fire Station) up the road, which he'd become associated with by accident when looking for somewhere to park.

We also spoke about how work was so often ignored by contemporary artists as opposed to the days gone by where people like Joseph Wright of Derby (who I'd like to see on our bank notes) positively  celebrated industry.

I quite liked the work shown - Spike It by Jeanie Driver - which documents something of the activity and the collection of paper  in an office.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

See my friends and the Old Fire-station Ealing Art show revisited

A cappuccino please at Electric Coffee
Despite more rain this Sunday I met up with a friend from Horticultural course a few years back for a  beverage and a chat at the local branch of  award winning coffee shop the Electric Coffee co.

It's good to catch up with Ed and our discussions are wide ranging to say the least - many things Ed says make me consider how we approach challenges and make allowances for our own shortcomings.

We talk about many aspects of behaviour and I select Melanie Klein and Thinking Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman) as the source of some revelatory ideas (for me).

EAG show (again)

The Old Fire Station, Ealing

It's probably over a month since I visited the EAG summer show - I'd been told that new works were on display there and I was also aware that someone I know (Gordon Cookson)  who was  exhibiting wooden works was on the desk during the shows' extension so this rainy day seemed a good time to take a look and learn more of his process.
Gordon works with 'found' materials

Key questions I had for Gordon were around when a 'work' is finished and following my reading of 'Painter Man' how difficult it is to let works go.

For Gordon much of knowing when it's time to stop (i.e. it's finished) lies in the practicality of the wood turning - which can be unforgiving.

Gordon generally seems happy to let his work go and this is often more an issue around pricing than with any 'bond' that may have formed with the created item.
One of my favourites of Gordon's works

It was nice to probe how Gordon worked and selected the materials he uses

As well as Gordon's work there were a number of ceramics and plenty of local views.

My personal favourite of items on show was the Map Pig by Margaret Porter which seems a steal (or squeal)  at £35

I also had it confirmed that in the longer term The Old Fire Station will be home to  Charlotte's Place restaurant - a good restaurant I would imagine but a real shame to lose this public space.

Map Pig - Nice one Margaret

If you consider selling your work it would I think make it easier if you choose a local view that's recognisable and intrinsically pleasant- this one below of Haven Green made me go and take a photo' to see how well the idea/view  had been captured by Joan Storkey

In the area

Haven Green, Ealing by Joan Storkey.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Wet Ealing Comedy and well done Nationwide

Ninia a great MC in the  Comedy Tent
Most years we go along to the Ealing Comedy Festival for at least one night of laughter, this year we chose the Gala closing night - partly because it was a Friday and partly because there were two acts I'd heard of.

Well if you're a West Londoner you'll know Friday was a wet day despite this we braved the 15 minute walk to the Comedy tent and had a pretty good night - the format is a good one as the sheer number of performers means that you'll probably find someone who tickles your particular funny bone - last night there were 8 performers  along with a very funny MC  (the effervescent Ninia Benjamin) who kept the whole thing moving along.

As well as being delighted by the names I knew a very professional Jo Caulfield and a surprisingly move Paul 'The Cinnamon' Sinha  (famed as the T**t in the white suit from ITV quiz show 'The Chase') I very much enjoyed  Irish comedian Chris Kent, North Londoner Ian Stone with his thoughts on the Jehovah's Witness business.

Slightly flabbergasted by the revelatory nature of the somewhat over the top and in your face  Luisa Omielan and won over by the expectation confounding  persona of  Jeff  Innocent - a good night despite getting pretty wet and not visiting the bar!




Well done Nationwide

I know I moan and wanted to give some credit here for a helpful bank.
A bank that helps without calling me an idiot

Yesterday I was going on about my own stupidity in being caught out by 'Scammers', warning others  - and I mentioned the action I'd taken to correct my errors - well credit to Nationwide for getting a fresh card to me so quickly (and not calling me an idiot) .

I don't know about other banks but they seem to have performed really well on this 

Friday, July 24, 2015

PayPal Scams and Advice agencies

I like to think I'm fairly switched on and know my way around computers, social media and finance - well hands up I've been drawn into entering details into a scam website (so you should take care).

I would say (of course) that it was credible and I would also say that immediately I realised I'd been a fool and reported to relevant parties stopped cards etcetera and revisited passwords.

[If only I'd seen this]

Here's what I should have done:

1) Checked the source of the message that directed me to the scam site - and then deleted the message or forwarded to someone like Paypal spoof mailbox

I should not have entered a password to the seemingly authentic site.

I should (if I'd got this far) have noted that the site was not https (which denotes a secure site).

I should not have entered bank details.

But  in my defence I did on realising that I'd acted  in a foolish way immediate report this and carry out the advice given....
Scams don't always arrive at the doorstep

[Good tips here]

And on scams..

CAB needs to join the  21st Century

Well one of my first 'gigs' with the CAB was helping deliver a message about Scams top old people - I should have picked up on the limitations here but didn't) we were in hindsight more of a sideshow that really engaging and alerting the audience (elderly) to the issue.

I'm not too sure how well the CAB are able to deliver warnings on more up-to-date scams, I've been helping CAB for the last couple of years but can say that my feelings about their services and the organisation are at best ambivalent.

The CAB are in a position where they try (I think) to help those at the bottom of the pile but often it feels for these clients that they are another bunch of bureaucratic clerks.

My views are  influenced by personal experiences so please do listen to others who may have a much more positive spin on the activities of the CAB.

I reckon that they're in a very difficult situation as although they purport to be helping Citizens their financing (now) is tied up with both Local and National government making them (I think) subservient to political goals- they often are required to 'bid' for what would have been social services work and use volunteers (many inexperienced) to deliver.

The methods of delivery and standards of material are variable and my perception is that brand management is not what it should be.

I would say that the campaigning and good intentions can sadly get buried in a 3rd sector professionalism and grudge mentality (Cinderella service anyone?)

I'm not sure what the answer is but to me I reckon the questions need to be asked  as extra requirements are loaded (like Pensions) the organisation needs to decide what is their primary aim delivering an effective service for those who need it or servicing Government contracts at low cost.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

More on 20th Century design and the Days

Great to be back hearing more about 20th Century Design at OPEN Ealing last night (a swig of red wine adds to the ambience too).

As with any overtly focused visual study one is more open to stimulus after the event and on the way home I noticed the rather nice logo of the Electrician's van - he was kind enough to give me a flyer so here's his phone number if you're a West Londoner needing a 'Sparks' 07783 581 157
An example of how we 'read visuals'

Seeing the design reminded me of how semiotic ally we read such signs - almost subconsciously talking in the multiple meanings and deciphering it all - so much we see from an early age that it is second nature.

Subject matter last night was British husband and wife duo Mr and Mrs Day who were particularly active in all sorts of designer projects after WW II - you can see some items in Collection Lab at Design Museum if you're so minded.

Contemporary Days: The Designs of Lucienne & Robin Day from Design Onscreen on Vimeo.

Robin and Lucienne Day transformed British design after World War II with striking furniture and textiles that signaled a new era of modernist sensibilities for everyday living. Robin's revolutionary furniture designs introduced materials such as plastic, steel and plywood to homes, offices and schools. His stacking polypropylene chair endures as an icon and now graces a Royal Mail postage stamp. Lucienne's abstract textile designs brought accessible elegance into the homes of postwar British consumers.

The Days' fresh design approaches, including their contributions to the Royal Festival Hall in 1951, helped fuel the artistic and commercial awakening that led Britain out of the devastation of World War II. The film traces the Days' personal and professional progression over the course of their careers, spanning more than seventy years - from their days at the Royal College of the Arts in the 1930s, through their long heyday at the forefront of British design, to their recent rediscovery by new generations of design aficionados.

The 60-minute film was created by Design Onscreen, with award-winning Scottish Director Murray Grigor and Cinematographer Hamid Shams.
On the subject of Design Museum we also spoke about Deyan Sudjic   now director there but a figure who has written engagingly about Design.
part of my library of Design

And here's one of the most significant examples of 'Brutalism' in Architecture - not a criticism here but the label that was attached to the style (this by Erno Goldfinger -no kidding).

Trellick Tower A design classic but doesn't mean you'd want to live in it

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

TV for the future and a History of 20th Century Dersign at OPEN Ealing

I've experienced a number of employers with bases/cultures and interactions involving many countries.

Writing a new book on 'Rights'?

From what I've seen the American companies are those that are strongest in straight Capitalist enterprises and I  anticipate  with curiosity of  how the entertainment giant Discovery (via Eurosport)will come to terms with the acquisition of Olympics rights -this will begin to affect much of Europe from 2018 onwards.

Much of the discussion around the BBC's future  in the UK remains (it seems to me) ideological with those who wish to see more market forces in play but there's a danger that such manoeuvres favouring 'Free enterprise' will limit the ability of Great Britain PLC to  have a distinctive voice and to be a World Player.

The idea that a diminished BBC will benefit UK viewers or native Media businesses seems to me a naïve and unsophisticated analysis of consumer behaviour with respect to 'liberalisation' - I am on such topics reminded of a truism from my University studies in Mass Media  - the value laden use of the term, de-regulation should often be replaced by re-regulation and the forces promoting such changes should be critically judged.

The limits of the State

You can learn more than just the aesthetic of 'Design' from the course

Balancing the above I do recognise that for most of my life  i.e. for  more than  50 post war years the UK was a strange blend of Socialism and Freedom under governments of both Tory and Labour hues.

I'm enjoying learning about 20th Century Design - from what I would say is a deeply personal view by the Artist Nick Pearson at nearby OPEN Ealing.

Reading last weeks' always engaging notes the idea of how pervasive the state was immediately after WW II  hostilities ended was summed up by the act of the eventually  to be Prime-Minster  Harold Wilson when at  the Board of Trade.
Wilson effectively  banned the then UK Vogue editor from mentioning Dior for fear of encouraging profligate use of fabric in the country.

This is the sort or rule one can imagine in North Korea or Iran but seems out of Kilter in a 'free Country'.

It's great to see that the History of Design encompasses so much  and through finding out we are able to consider such diverse influences as the effects of New Synthetic Materials, Hollywood and (of course) Modern Art.

Monday, July 20, 2015

New Buildings in London - Perhaps we need some sort of break?

Another new build in Ealing
I don't always agree with the views of Alain de Botton and his School of Life but his recent youtube analysis of what is happening in London with respect to changes to the skyline certainly does resonate with me.

I regularly comment on new buildings in my own area and London at large but it does feel that there's a danger of the planning application getting out of kilter -nearly  every week I'm seeing new buildings emerge and the quality is variable to say the least.

I know that new housing is critical but perhaps more emphasis should be put on the people who will live their than those who wish to invest?

Perhaps we should ask some  serious questions about the removal/liberalisation of Planning permissions that the Tories seem so keen on?

Is this the sort of blight that Alain de Botton is talking about?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Story of Belgians in Twickenham

 Collectively in the UK we're still in a period where a reflective look is being taken at events of 100 years ago during the tumult of the Great War when such turmoil hit Europe.
The communal gardens in Twickenham

The other day in Twickenham I happened upon the Diamond Jubilee Gardens not far from the main shopping area - it's a charming spot with views across the river and it also has a café and some interesting displays.

Sad to see I noted too that one of the key figures behind this sanctuary has recently passed away but the gardens remain as a testimonial to his efforts.
Angry birds too

What I found really interesting was artwork from a local school working with artists (Jane Porter and Sue Edkins)  to bring to a modern audience an immigration experience which seems to me to have a relevance to modern London.

It seems that as a result of fighting in Belgium there was something of an exodus of Belgians to London and many of these 'refugees' found  a temporary home in Twickenham bringing with them their own Newspapers and trading in their own speciality goods.

Nice work kids!
And well integrated by the artists

The pictures are well put together keeping the naivety of the youngsters but adding the narrative to give a coherence.

Great representations of the World War I soldiers