Street Haunting in Spitalfields


Last Tuesday I was working in the east of London, in Aldgate. After work, I still had 2 and 1/2 hours to kill before my train so, as it was a pleasant afternoon, I decided to have a wander around Spitalfields, a short walk away.

In the 17th and 18th century the area was associated with silk weaving after Huguenots fleeing from persecution in France settled here and brought their skills with them. Later, Irish linen workers settled here. In the Victorian period, following the decline of the silk and linen industries it became something of a notorious slum. There were further waves of Jewish and then Bangladeshi immigrants bringing new cultures and energy to the area. Today, like much of the East End it’s become somewhat gentrified. The old Victorian market and surrounding streets being redeveloped.

It’s an interesting place to walk around, with some historic buildings and modern street art to look at.

For me, the star of the show is Hawksmoor’s magnificent gleaming white Christ Church



one of the six, eccentric English Baroque churches for which he is best known.

There’s an interesting war memorial in the church yard.


Close by, on Commercial Street,  the Fruit and Wool exchange building has been controversially redeveloped against local opposition, over-ruled by the former Mayor of London and current “Clown Secretary”. The white neo-Classical façade has, fortunately, been preserved.


A number of old commercial buildings nearby  have also been preserved




I quite liked this building with it’s neo-Gothic features


and these more modern flats with an Art Deco look


There’s street art dotted around the redeveloped market. Here’s a selection I spotted.

The Spitalfields Goat by Kenny Hunter



A pear and a fig by Ali Grant


Dogman and Rabbitgirl with coffee by Gillie and Marc


Wooden Boat with Seven People by Kalliopi Lemos, features an authentic boat that was used to transport refugees from Turkey to the shores of the Greek islands. The installation aims to reflect Spitalfields’ rich history of providing shelter for successive waves of migrants across the centuries.


I couldn’t find out who had created this “steampunk” motorbike




A few works at Tate Modern

After looking round the Red Star Over Russia exhibition, I spent about an hour having a wander round some of the free galleries at Tate Modern.  I’ve been to the Gallery several times recently, but it’s so big with a massive collection (of which only a fraction is on display at any one time) that I always seem to spot something I hadn’t seen before.

This poster from a collection on display from the May 68 events in Paris (50th anniversary coming up soon)  by the Atelier Populaire rather resonated with the exhibition I’d just seen


I rather liked this 3 dimensional work by Victor Passmore


Abstract in White, Green, Black, Blue, Red, Grey and Pink (1963)

A pleasing discovery was a number of photographs by the German photographer Werner Mantz.


Werner Mantz began his career as a portrait and advertising photographer, later becoming known for his architectural photographs of the modernist housing projects in Cologne during the 1920s. His work is linked with the “New Objectivity” Movement in German photography before the Second World War which was concerned with using the clarity and precision of the camera to depict the everyday world in structured and organised compositions.

The photographs again linked with the Red Star Over Russia exhibition as they were similar in many ways with the photographs by Rodchenko.

I particularly liked this image dominated by the shadow of the lamppost


Detail of Kalkerfield settlement, Cologne 1928

Melbourne Docklands


Melbourne’s original docklands, a complex of wharfs, warehouses, railway facilities and light industry were developed towards the end of the 19th century on swampland to the west of the city centre. At one time is was a busy hub of activity with ships being loaded and unloaded.  However,  they fell into disuse following the containerisation of shipping traffic and by the 1990s it was virtually abandoned. Since then, like many docklands in cities that have suffered the same fate (e.g. Darling Harbour in Sydney, Salford Quays and the various docklands in London) they have undergone redevelopment which has seen the construction of office and residential blocks, bars, restaurants and leisure facilities, including the Etihad Stadium and the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. We’d picked up leaflets in the tourist office on Federation Square about Art and Heritage (i.e. industrial history) Trails, so being interested in both, thought we’d go and have a look.

We took the tram out from the City Centre. The route was entirely within the “free zone” so nothing to pay. It was something of a grey day (although the cloud cleared during the afternoon) which wasn’t great for photographs, but I snapped a few anyway.

Like many developments in former industrial locations, it felt a little desolate and hadn’t developed fully. The art trail is no doubt intended to encourage visitors and that certainly worked in our case. I guess it will take some time before it fully develops it’s own atmosphere.

There are 26 works of art scattered across the Docklands, too many to see during one visit, and some are not accessible to casual visitors. Here are the ones we saw

Meeting (2013) by Wang Shugang – 8 red, life-sized men crouching in a meeting circle –  at the NewQuay Promenade.


Silence (2002) by Adrian Mauriks


This next piece Cast IV (2015) by Anthony Gormley was located in the lobby of a residential building and could only be viewed through the window.


However, I sneaked inside the lobby when a resident entered and got a look close up without having to peer through glass!


Round the corner, facing the Etihad Stadium (no, we hadn’t nipped back to Manchester. The stadium is home to Melbourne City, part of the empire of the owners of Manchester City) a large mural Edge of your seat (2015) by the street artist, Rone


Next stop, on the dockside facing the Stadium is Cow up a tree (2001) by John Kelly, a work that certainly “does what it says on the tin”


Moving round the dockside we came across this large work in glass reinforced cement by John MeadeAqualung (2006). It rather reminded me of a giant whale or fish diving below the surface.


Whitecaps (2011) by Ari Purhonen, a Finnish-born Australian artist based in Sydney.


It’s a kinetic work where the metal cones resting on top of the old timber piles, which once supported the wharves, move in the wind creating sound, the intensity depending on the strength of the wind

Shadow Trees (2014) by Sally Smart, described by the artist as a “choreography of trees”.


We really liked this large scale work, The River Runs Through It (2011) by Mark Stoner


It consists of a series of shaped paving, 16 white pre cast concrete ‘wave’ forms, 5 brick ‘dunes’ and carefully placed planter forms.

The artist’s blog tells us that

The intent is to create a sense of a spatial landscape that references some notion of the wind, sun and physical form of the original bank of the Yarra (River).


Webb Bridge (2003) by Robert Owen is a pedestrian bridge over the Yarra “transformed into a work of art by the unique metal weave that surrounds it”. It’s design is inspired by the woven eel traps used by local Indigenous people.


Blowhole (2004) by Duncan Stemler is another kinetic sculpture where the arms and cups are moved by the wind, rather like a cup anemometer used to measure wind speed.


We particularly liked this next work, Reed Vessel (2004) by Virginia King


Set in a recreated marshy wetland, viewed from a distance it looks like a boat emerging from the water. The artist tells us that it

embraces themes of migration, the river and the sea. The work references the history of the site, the once-abundant food source of the vast, tidal wetland that existed here, stories of the river and marine archaeology.

The final work I photographed was Continuum (2005) by Michael Snape a tower made up of two dimensional figures cut from steel.


The artist is said to have found inspiration for the work by the way the Docklands was coming back to life after a period of abandonment. That certainly seemed to be the case, but it will probably take a little while for it to be fully realised.

There was more to see, but we’d been wandering round for a couple of hours and as we were near a tram stop, caught the next one that would take us back towards our apartment. On the tram we got talking to a local who had been temporarily located to the Docklands. She wasn’t impressed with the area feeling it was too far out from the centre and lacking atmosphere. It clearly needs time to “grow into itself”.


‘Cactus Provisoire’, Trinity College, Dublin


Another work of art in the public spaces of Trinity College, Dublin.  This large metal sculpture is ‘Cactus Provisoire’, created in 1967 by Alexander CalderBest known for his “kinetic sculptures”, this is one of his non-mobile “stabiles

It’s located in Fellow’s square, an open space between the college library used by students and the old library which houses the Book of Kells. The square is on the well traversed route  through the college between College Green and Nassau Street. So plenty of people pass this sculpture every day.

Sphere Within Sphere at Trinity College


Last week I had a short trip to Dublin. I was attending a conference on the western outskirts on Wednesday so flew over midday on the Tuesday from Manchester. I had a few hours to spare so decided to use the time to take another look round the recently refurbished Irish National Gallery. Walking over towards the Gallery from the stop where I disembarked from the airport bus, I cut across the grounds of Trinity College. I had a brief wander round the public areas where I spotted a number of works of art. One that particularly took my eye, near the college library, was this rather dramatic broken bronze sphere


A little research revealed that it’s called Sfera con Sfera (Sphere within Sphere) and was created by the Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro.


A warm October day at the YSP


Sunday was forecast to be an unseasonably warm day in advance of the remains of Hurricanee Ophelia hitting us on Monday. We decided to make the most of it. I’d considered driving up to the Lakes but the forecast for there wasn’t so good so we decided to head over the M62 to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park where a new exhibition – Alfredo Jaar: The Garden of Good and Evil – had just opened in the Underground Gallery. Driving home late afternoon we learned that there had been an accident on the M6 near Kendal leading to both sides of the motorway being shut for several hours. Turned out to be a good decision then.


It was a good decision in other ways too as it was a beautiful sunny day for a walk around the grounds where we saw some new works on display, plus we caught one exhibition that had just opened in the Underground Gallery and one that was due to close in a few days in the Longside Gallery. Both were very good. More about them in future posts.

Here’s a few photos of some of the new works in the grounds.


This stunning work, standing seven metres high on the south shore of the Lower Lake is Wilsis  by Jaume Plensa. It’s one of his series of portrait heads depicting young girls from around the world, with their eyes closed in a dreamlike state of contemplation. (Like Dream on the former Sutton Manor Colliery site in St Helens – which we’ve still never got round to visiting – although we’ve seen it many times from the motorway on the way to Liverpool)



Wilsis is a fascinating exploration of perspective through the flattening of form, an idea that grew out of Plensa’s desire to understand what happens on the other side, on the reverse of things with which we are familiar, such as letters printed on a page, or a portrait head on a coin. From the front the head appears realistic, yet from the side it is an extremely flattened relief.


Further along the lake we came across Bruce Beasley’s Advocate IV


The sculpture is a collection of cubes stacked in a way so they look like a precariously balanced tower.


We walked up to the Longside Gallery to see the exhibition  Occasional Geometries, curated by Bangladeshi-born artist Rana Begum with works selected largely from the Arts Council Collection. After we’d looked round we set off back down towards the Lower lake via the east side of the park, passing some favourite works by Andy Goldsworthy.

Walking along the north shore of the lake we spotted this sculpture by the Swedish sculptor Jørgen Haugen Sørensen  (well, he had to be Swedish with a name like that!).


Supplement til Titlens afskaffelse

Then further on we passed Diario by Mikayel Ohanjanyan.


A series of marble blocks bound by steel cables lying on a table.


Looking closely we could see writing carved inside the fissures in the blocks –  listing the names of all the people the artist has ever met.


Close by was Six Mourners and the One Alone  by Amar Kanwar.


Made from timber from the 19th century Chapel organ that was dismantled due to irreparable damage. The seven pipes represent the six mourners, who count the
dead and the one alone, who gathers and memorises testimonies of the living.


Anthony Gormley’s One and Other isn’t a new work, but it looked particularly good silhouetted against the blue sky


Black and Blue: The Invisible Men and the Masque of Blackness was attracting a lot of attention. An army of identical two-metre-tall figures by the British-Trinidadian artist Zak Ové


The figures are based on a small dark wood sculpture given to him as a child by his father,  the filmmaker Horace Ové, in the 1970s.


Passing a new work by Julian Opie: People 15


we came across Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads (2010) – 12 bronze animal heads representing the Chinese Zodiac



Ai reinterpreted the 12 bronze heads representing the traditional Chinese zodiac that once adorned the famed fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan, the imperial summer palace retreat in Beijing. Ransacked in 1860 during the Second Opium War by the British and French, only seven of the original heads have been returned to China – the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, horse, monkey, and boar. The locations of the other five – dragon, snake, goat, rooster, and dog – are still unknown.

Cast in bronze and standing three-metres-high, the sculptures each weigh 363kg. Through the re-interpretation of the heads on a larger scale, Ai comments and encourages debate on the politics of ownership, cultural history, repatriation and authenticity. The artist also wanted the work to be playful and accessible to the general public.

Matthew Day Jackson’s Magnificent Desolation, created by , directly references one of Auguste Rodin’s most famous sculptures Les Burghers de Calais.


According to history, King Edward III offered to spare the town if they sacrificed six of its most powerful leaders. Rodin chose to capture the heroic expressions of the six volunteers who were to be executed to save their people. Day Jackson has taken these figures of heroic self-sacrifice and, through using a computer generated 3D model of a map, has placed them on a moonscape as subtitute astronauts. Named after Buzz Aldren’s autobiography and first-hand account of landing on the moon, Magnificent Desolation is cast in bronze, a material often used for memorials, and combines the fated heroism of both Les Burghers de Calais and the risks of space travel.

A new Henry Moore (new to YSP, that is) – Reclining Connected Forms


Finally, I don’t recall seeing this work by Willaim Turnbull before


Queen 2 was

inspired by his knowledge of ancient cultures and their artefacts; revealing the sculptural potential of utilitarian and functional objects.

This was only a fraction of the art works we saw during our visit. It’s always worth a visit to the YSP, a chance to look at first class art while taking a walk through a pleasant country park. Especially pleasurable on a war, sunny, autumn day.

“Mystery” sculptures at Chatsworth

We spotted a number of sculptures we hadn’t seen before while wandering around the gardens and woods during our recent visit to Chatsworth.

This giant pink shoe Pop Art sculpture is by Michael Craig-Martin and was one of 12 of his works exhibited at Chatsworth in 2014


This baby elephant is by Barry Flanagan and was shown in the 2012 Beyond Limits exhibition


We couldn’t find out which artists had created these next two sculptures. Any information welcome!!!