Monday, November 30, 2015

Open-City by Boat, Politics and Red 337

Living in London it's far too easy to take our constantly changing environment for granted, bombarded as we are by visual stimuli and corporate  messages the wonder of what's around us can be a mere peripheral noise.

How different at dusk?
For this and because Christmas is not too far away the chance to take a trip along the Thames  arranged by the admirable Open-City initiative is far too good for us to ignore - it's on Saturday afternoon and you can find out more here.


UK's shame

It feels like it's been particularly bad week or so for the two major political parties in the UK with disingenuity, dishonesty and disrespect far beyond what honourable people should associate themselves with - strangely the Liberal Democrats with their naivety seem strangely appealing.

(Hard) Labour

First the infighting within the party set up to champion the working classes.

and the Old Mare
Ken Livingstone once mayor of London has not only insulted those battling with mental health issues but also given the impression that terrorists killing civilians in London  are somehow demonstrating legitimate dissent - how he can be considered capable of offering intelligent insights into the UK's defence policy is beyond satire.

The idea that because Jeremy Corbyn was not in the room when the NEC made it's decision is (of course) an insulting attempt at manoeuvring him away from in-fighting but of course as leader such decisions are ultimately for him to justify and rule on - can he seriously do this?

Perhaps Jeremy can create a way forward in the ISIS  debate that keeps Labour united and wins the sometimes 'floating' voter (who tends to select the ruling party in the UK's system) but at present if he remains true to his convictions more disaster lies ahead and with people like Ken playing a part in Jeremy's idea of 21st century politics I see little cause for optimism.

Tory shame?

Playing at Politics

The Tories too have shown the horrendous underbelly of blind ambition where characters lacking in the fundamental humanity have hidden away and been unwilling to bear witness to their own mistakes and those around them - I sympathise with the parents Elliott Johnson and shudder at the unseemly denials by some within the Conservative party.


Red 337

More reds..

It'd make quite a Valentine's gift

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A visit to the 'Cycle Revolution' at Design Museum and Red 338

Visitors get acquainted with the nuts and bolts 

On Friday I took in the exhibition at the Design Museum which as a follow up to 'Life on Foot' it seems pretty logical as the topic is around  another way of getting around - Cycling.

Boardman -It's got his name on it
The last time I'd seen the 'cycling'  exhibition was about two weeks ago when  it was in its final preparation mode and the transformation in that time  pretty phenomenal - it's now full of great exhibits and with what is (to me) a logical flow which  lends itself to a selection of themes to entice visitors into finding out more.

The exhibition has six key areas, four of which are tribal along with  workshop and future displays.
A Revolution on 2 wheels

One approach is that of the individuals who are and have made a difference to cycling, one of the great examples is Chris Boardman Olympic Gold medal (1992) winner  who in one of many video clips in the exhibition makes clear his belief in cycling as a public good.

Another inspirational cyclist is Shanaze Reade  who with her place in the 'Thrill seeking' section is seen providing a role model for young women who want to take up cycling in an exciting way.

A theme that stood out to me was the idea of parts of London being associated with cycling, Peckham and its cycle park for one and the Brompton Bicycle company with its home in West London (currently Brentford).
Safety gone 'mad'

I liked too the way the bikes were shown with details of the materials used and this helps see a design development  where performance bikes are now using carbon fibre in the frame construction this providing the mix of strength and lightness -

The Donky bike an alternative to the van?

The 1888 Rover Safety Bicycle had solid tyres and as far as I can see making it's Safety title a bit of a misnomer absolutely nothing in the way of  brakes.

As well as there being an area contrasting bicycle usage across some of the world's major cities and showing prototypes that were stretching the idea of bicycles there was a great revelation on the use of 'Cargo bikes' .
[Which was one of the themes John Thackara had made much of in his talk at the Design Museum on 'The next economy' earlier in the year.]

All in all quite a bit for to get my teeth into for my upcoming short guided tours through the exhibition.

Red 338

more of natures lovely reds

I'm blown away

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Anise Gallery -Small exhibition, QR Codes and Red 339

Down Bermondsey way.
I'd been at the Design Museum looking at the rater excellent Cycle Revolution (more about this here) and as I walked down The Shad I noticed an exhibition and thought must take a look after my visit.

After immersing myself in all things bicycle I managed to walk past Anise Gallery but having realised my mistake double backed and had a good look around.

The current exhibition is Time and Tide by  Jeanette Barnes - the works on show are about how London is changing and her experience wqith printmaking is clear to see as is a connection with history.

Anise Gallery

It was nice to see a mixture of Charcoals, Monoprint and artefacts - for me the  Monoprints worked best (I liked the ones  from Walbrook Building) and were affordable whereas the larger unframed charcoals had clearly been painstakingly put together felt less precise (and were considerably more costly).

If you're in the area definitely worth taking a look, the pictures are on display  until 5th December

My own Exhibition page

QR codes

Talking of exhibiting..

As part of a labelling exercise (for my photographs to exhibit) I decided to have a go at QR codes, having been told that they were fairly easy to do I was surprised how simple effective (and free) it is.

The are some very easy to follow YouTube videos and the recommendations associated with them all look good. (I've used

You can try my first code here (I've read it okay with QR Code reader) , the intention is to have a code on each photo that's displayed to give details and price.

Red 339

Watch out for the red man

Red Crossing man -

Friday, November 27, 2015

Growing and Red 340

Cristo for planting
Earlier in the week I bought a couple of Garlic Bulbs, this time I'm trying a French variety Cristo  (well it some out well in terms of Garlicky-ness) - having panted a dozen or so in pots rather disappointed to find that Broad beans have been targeted - not sure if birds or squirrels are responsible but will plant more.

Something likes  young Broad Beans

Earlier I've sung the praises of tree pruning and interested to see on local allotment site some serious cutting back - you can imagine the importance of safety as I was cautious on my own much smaller scale works.
Tree Fellers- Not perfect but I'm impressed

Red 340

Not only McDonalds use Red to effect in their logo.
Another Iconic figure in the takeaway food firmament

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Denny's Organising at the Sackler and Red 341

It's out there

What tends to be fun at the Serpentine is the non-traditional and somewhat immersive experiences that they host - there remains an edge there which allows experimentation, The new-ish Sackler Gallery is especially well suited to this.

Simon 'down' with the Baseball Hat

Simon Denny is far from the mainstream in contemporary art and can be seen, almost as the Artist remade as 'Geek'.

Denny who hails from New Zealand seems (to me) almost bereft of the use of traditional reference to the history of Western art (the one that I did feel significant was Ada Lovelace  known by some as the first programmer)  and is about social interaction and commercial endeavour.

Beamed from Outer -space to Starship Sackler

What we have though is an engaging introduction to how modern enterprises, corporations and indeed arms of the security service are modelled to adapt to modern technology an practices - in a way it's another way of looking at the Transience of Craig Martin's nearby exhibition

For sure the idea that there's a solution to technological change, its impacts on us  and that it can be achieved and tamed  is to me questionable in the extreme -all we can see is a series of  enticing 'snapshots' which we can see examples of in this exhibition.

A new one for the Lexicon - the formalised
Organisation part of the Denny show
Ada Lovelace is referenced

Strangely, yesterday I heard spoke for the first time the term Holacracy used - on a Radio 4 programme (The Joy of 9 to 5) about the challenges of modern corporate  office life.
The show is split into two, here Emergent organisations

Ultimately the question again raises it's head is it Art?
Well Denny is an artist and this on in a gallery so the answer for me is yes.

As a person with a technical background I liked the exhibition and had that feeling of excitement and wanting to run around and push buttons but of course I recognise it as 'problematic' in what it presents at least in some ways.


Red 341

A lovely engineering red emanates here.

As seen at Homebase

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Michael Craig-Martin's Transience and Red 342

It's a sign
Last night at the Serpentine to see preview of the new shows there - the way the twin gallery approach serves the visitor is very successful (in my judgement)  -well worth taking the walk across Kensington gardens to see what was on offer.

As well as an exhibition by Craig-Martin there was a very different take on how modern  practices are influencing life by young-ish New Zealander Simon Denny at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery just a short walk away (more on this soon)
Serpentine Gallery  on Preview night

Michael Craig-Martin is known by many as the Godfather of the  BritArt movement during his time tutoring at Goldsmiths in the 1980s

[Not only is he important in this role but he's an important figure in his own right in Conceptual Art - look at the work of his former student Julian Opie]
It's big and bold

Capturing images of technology with technology
Transience (on until February 14th 2016) is an exhibition of Craig-Martin's beautifully crafted Acrylic on canvas works. The topic in itself   is a thoroughly engaging one with his identification of our rapidly changing 'thing' dominated lives, echoes of Patrick Caulfield resonate through the bright images (for me) like Caulfield the pictures are empty of people but here the works are almost obsessed with the technological accoutrements and artifacts that pass through modern life many of us lead

The paintings are really well displayed with bright backgrounds accentuating the stark near perfect images.
Everyday objects abstracted from surroundings
Fries with that?


Red 342

More on the reds around us
A barrier like this needs to be seen Red helps us identify it an the idea of a warning

A Physical Barrier

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Chrtistmas Shopping in Ealing (and online) and Red 343

I'm someone who is somewhat horrified when I see early signs of Christmas, having spent some time living in France I tend to feel that the UK is guilty of this more than our European neighbours.
Open before Xmas?

Having said that I've got to confess that having seen the increase in shoppers at the weekend I've started attacking the challenge (both online and in person) - sometimes though I find that shopping early means I still get caught up in the later activity too.
Christmas tree and stalls in Broadway centre

Ealing's shopping centre is home to a Christmas market and as well as a tree there are decorations on the high street and in the Broadway centre, Festive celebrations mean good business for bars and restaurants too.

 I expect the Pho Saigon in Bond Street W5 will open soon to take advantage of this - it'll be interesting to see if they feel the need to start with a 50% opening reduction on their food menu as is becoming increasingly  the case in the sector.

[It'll be interesting to see how it performs against nearby Pho in New Broadway]

Red 343

Here's a family pet that's been recruited into the seasonal mood

Take from this what you wish

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pruning, at Questors Grapevine Bar and Red 344

I routinely cut back the Pear tree in our back garden each November, the tree is old and the fruit not great so the activity is about keeping the shape and removing anything that looks diseased, Friday was a fine day for the work and I was satisfied with the overall result.

The tree after pruning

The branches removed from the tree



Fruit trees on the allotment will also need attention and here the fruit is of more importance and value but again I shall do my best to preserve the shape and remove anything diseased.

As well as the pruning of trees fruit bushes, grapevines and Rhubarb are all to be attended to

Grapevine Exhibitions

And on the subject of Grapevine my second recent visit to The Grapevine bar yesterday lunchtime there's an exhibition of work by members of the 4020 Art Group including Naomi Healy.

Some of Naomi's work in The Grapevine

The  bar has a long wall at the rear and 2 or 3 other areas that are ideal for showing two-dimensional work.

I'm planning to show some photographs in The Questors Grapevine Bar and it's interesting for me to see how works are hung, labelled and how a theme and sense of unity is communicated.

More of the Grapevine Bar Exhibition Space

There are various arts initiatives in Ealing and one of the most active is OPEN Ealing here's a link to the eclectic selection of  events that are coming up with them.





Red 344

Back to the natural for what is often thought of as a vegetable but is technically a fruit (and there are plenty of Yellow or orange ones too).
Not perfectly red or perfectly round

Sunday, November 22, 2015

More at Tate Britain this week and Red 345

Upcoming at Tate
As well as looking at the Auerbach at Tate Britain my eyes were drawn to the forthcoming 'Artist and Empire' it's an intriguing subject to create an exhibition about (and it open this Wednesday 25th ).

There's  a nice little Hackney Flashers room there too it's photographic (which appeals to me) and it's about a collective looking at community it's on at Tate Britain now (I liked The Highest Product of Capitalism by Jo Spence)

There too is a room dedicated to 'The Art and Alcohol' it  tells us quite a bit about the  ruling elites view on working class and drinking.

What stood out was The Village Holiday by Sir David Wilkie and the ambition and execution of George Cruikshank's The Worship of Bacchus.

A view from near The Tate Britain

Also I found many things I've not seen before and also looked again at some of the things I'm (almost) familiar with.

This included the rather marvelous Richard Hamilton Sculptural relief of The Solomon R Guggenheim .

I also saw some parallels between the way that light is used by Wright of Derby and Sir Luke Fildes in The Doctor.

[There's a nice atmospheric sound work in the atrium area too it's by Susan Philipsz and is called War Damaged Musical Instruments]

Red 345

Tate Britain's got plenty of colour

Caro uses red with some style

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Auerbach at Tate Britian and Red 346

Sometimes surprised how quickly there's something new to see at Tate Modern and Tate Britain, also a little flummoxed at how it often takes me some time to get out the front door.
Not Frank though

Since discovering that my Secondary School Art Teacher Tom Davies is keen on the work of Frank
Auerbach I've been interested to learn more of his Oeuvre.

Having come to appreciate the idea  that Artists look to solve a problem my feeling is that one of Frank's intentions in many of his pictures is to create an image that looks like a representation from a distance (but not so good close up).

What I also noticed was that Auerbach had consistently worked on the same subject matters and models (often his wife)  for much of his 50 plus years working at his craft.

Auerbach was born in Germany but as a Jew was evacuated  to England as part of The Kindertransport program and in fact went to school in Faversham.

 Unlike those figures he studied with (like Peter Blake and Bridget Riley) it's difficult to see Frank as part of a 'school'.

To me the artist looked heavily influenced by celebrated artists of impressionism like Van Gogh, Cézanne and the more recent titan Francis Bacon.  

Although not convinced that I like his work it was a pleasure and an adventure to spend time investigating his works and the 'journey' he's undertaken.

Of particular note is the way his early works piles on the (oil) paint becoming almost sculptural Building site for example seems to approach abstraction.

Where Auberach is successful is with the use of colour capturing a time of day and feel for temperature some of the works (to me) really suggest summer and EOW SAW and JJW (1963) was a favourite.

Auerbach displays his technical skills in his drawings but to me theirs some anger in many of his paintings (although I did hear another of the visitors at the exhibition saying emotion was absent).

Many of his works are about where he lives an paints (North London) and there are many reclining heads of models such as E.O.W and his wife Julia (I was curious to see what she 'actually' looks like).

Red 346

Quite literally Soup-er

Heinz intrinsically linked to Red and even more so with (in the UK) their Tomato Soup

Friday, November 20, 2015

Growing, a bargain book and Red 347

it's collapsible
Down on the allotment yesterday collecting some Carrots and Parsnips (odd shaped but edible), the winds had made some adjustments to my 'cages' necessary.

but recovery is possible

Fast growers
Of course the weather at this time of the year is not really associated with growing but more about the routines of turning over the soil, pruning and making good for the winter, having said that some growing does take place as we can see with peas and broad beans sown at the start of the month.


A bargain book

Got this book from Oxfam at only £2.49 it's all about creating still life photographs and the writer Bruce Pendleton has some amazing pictures and a short bio' here.

Red 347

A strong association with red

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thinking of Pubs and Red 348

The Pub for centuries the heart of British male culture is in (perhaps terminal) decline, no longer the centre of the community apart from  in TV sitcoms and Soap Operas in many districts where they're not closing they're morphing into licensed restaurants .

Hammersmith, the Thames still with pubs on the Towpath
I suppose the first pub I was really aware of was the Three Stars in Trent Road (Chelmsford  -it seems this pub is no longer in business ), later after we had left Chelmsford there was a pub on the London Road, Braintree  I would collect 'deposits' from returning bottles.

At school it was fairly standard in 5th and 6th years to occasionally visit the pub at lunchtimes, and when we moved to Wethersfield I had a good friend with parents who ran 'The Dog' pub in the village.

For me my golden pub years were at university in Cardiff and in my early twenties in London, beer was around 25p a pint when I was 18 and three or four pints was a regular number of Beers.
1970's vibe in The Old Ship

Why is it that I'm musing on the  Pub? Well oddly I had a pint (or two) in an area that still glories in an ale past, with it's William Morris connection the towpath Hammersmith retains something of the tradition of public house culture.

We started off at The Blue anchor and ended at The Old Ship which reminded me strongly of a pub in Cyncoed, Cardiff  (where we'd often have a Cornish pasty too) called The Discovery (it's still there), it felt very 1970's and it's odd too that my friend still works at Discovery (TV channels).

Red 348

 Here's a picture from earlier in the year - Red Art 'The Hero, The Leader, The God by Alexander Kosolapov.

Red and Iconic/Ironic