Saturday, 22 November 2014

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

One of the most evocative works of art on display in London ever has been Paul Cummins' 888,246 ceramic poppies covering the moat of the Tower of London and spilling from one of its turrets.   I don't think it's an exaggeration to call it a phenomenon.  Thousands of people journeyed to to this part of the City to witness the installation for themselves, including me.  And I would defy anyone seeing it in person not to think about the horror of war and the sacrifices of very young men in generations past.  And it reinforced my view that great art that contains great purpose has the power to move people deeply. 

Juxtaposition Raised to an Art Form

Whilst I was admiring the new Henry Moore sculpture in Kew Gardens I was reminded that a while ago - in 2005 I guess it was - that another great artist had an exhibition here: Dale Chihuly.  We weren't living in London at the time so I missed it, but I did get to encounter one of his chandeliers rather recently at the Victoria & Albert museum in South Kens.  Now I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of Chihuly's work, but what I do appreciate is the juxtaposition of this bright, brash sculpture set within the classical architecture and gravitas of the V&A atrium.  And, of course, I had a little wander around some of my favourite galleries with my Canon.

A Young Woman Beloved by an Entire City

When the 14-year old Alice Gross went missing at the end of August, what ensued was the largest search operation in London since the July 2005 bombings.  In addition to the Met’s efforts, a huge grass roots campaign was launched from her town of Hanwell in an effort to raise awareness and mobilise more people to search.  I remember personally praying every day that Alice be found alive and well, because she was a special person in many ways.  Alice wasn't a typical teenage school girl; she was extremely vulnerable both physically and emotionally, but she was also deeply loved by her friends and family who described her many talents and potential.  She was held so closely in the affection of her community because she was a kind, loving person - not traits that spring to mind when we think of London teenagers.  Her warmth was so great there's a great void without her; no, I didn’t know her, but I feel as though I did.

Friday, 21 November 2014

A Journey to the Exotic East

I love my village – it’s small, leafy and very quiet. Not too much happens in Kew, apart from our two cultural beacons – Kew Gardens and the National Archives. But as a single mum of two teenage girls, it has been a place of relative safety. I certainly know the neighbours on my terrace better than I ever did on the other side of the M25. 

And despite all the gorgeousness of the architecture, poshness of the stores, elegance of the Richmond Park deer herds and bustle of the coffee shops, it does lack the single thing that East London has in abundance: cool.

Brick Lane, Shoreditch, Whitechapel & Hackney – I love them all. There’s no where in London like these neighbourhoods because they appear to be not so planned as all the others; not so constrained (physically & psychologically). The creativity of the inhabitants spills from their minds onto the pavements and walls, restaurants and stalls. It’s as close as you can get to feeling like you’re abroad whilst never leaving the country. I can’t wait for my next excursion.

Remember, Remember on the 5th of November: Inequality is Unjust

What better day that the 5th of November to stage a protest at the Houses of Parliament.  Well, not so much day as night and not just Westminster, but Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and No. 10 Downing Street as well.  This march was organised by the Occupy/Anonymous Movement and it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up for many reasons including socioeconomic, political, historical and photographic.  I have great sympathy for sense of outrage that fomented this global cause.  I appreciate how these activists have brought the injustice and unsustainability of inequality to light and I earnestly hope that we see real change in the near future – for the sake of young people and generations to come.

When the Sun sets Sooner and Softer

Though it’s been rather damp and dull these past two weeks in London, we did experience one of the warmest, most glorious autumns ever during October and early November this year.  At all seasonal turning points in the year, Kew Gardens draws me to it as if by magnetism.  I had the most fantastic time visiting some of my favourite beauty spots and checking out the new Henry Moore sculpture near the lake – we’re so privileged to have this brilliant work of art, at least for a little while.  Only a few more days and all this foliage will lie upon the lawns and forest floors.