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Free access to Westminster Abbey cloister

27 Jul

Round the back of Westminster Abbey you can access the cloister without paying. Love the wonderful recycling of stained glass fragments into new windows:

And the monuments… Many are for young people because of the connection with Westminster school. How about this for lost promise…

And some great modern stone carving…


Public shelters in vaults under this street

27 Jul

En route to the Tate Britain for the Lowry exhibition our guide (Pink Sister’s sister!) pointed out these signs for WW2 bomb shelters. There’s another London under our feet. Nearby are the remnants of tunnels from the prison (I am told on the current Tate site) to the dock from which prisoners were transported to the colonies. Step forward several hundred years and we used the Tate to Tate boat to scoot down to the South Bank.



Life is short nature is long

4 Jul

For a quick hit of natura morta there’s the Fragile show at Chris Beetles
Photography on Swallow St off Picadilly. Paulette Tavormina’s
still lifes would not look out of place in the Prado or Riijksmuseum. (Re her image above: I have a twisted fascination with this being as how I have a fear of fish.) Lottie Davies delivers eerie willo’thewisp landscapes and Paul Kenny is for crystallography nuts or
those, like me, who only ever look down at the beach.

Cover up at the Royal Academy

4 Jul


Wondrous installation across the front of the Royal Academy. El Anatsui’s work, painstakingly constructed from bottle caps and recycled materials.

Hidden in plain sight

25 Oct


My hidden London find for this week… The mosaics in the atrium at the National Gallery. The subject choices are bizzarely eclectic… cricket, dance, profane love (!), christmas pudding, sea horse, mud pie, contemplation, conversation, football, hunting, rest, speed… All lie within a few square metres underfoot. These and more are the work of Boris Anrep, a Russian born artist whom the NG commissioned, wonderfully, in the early 20th century to embellish the grand main entrance stairwell. He completed The Labours of Life in 1928, The Pleasures of Life in ’33, and returned for The Modern Virtues, including a battling Churchill embodying Defiance in 1952. They are remarkable and eccentric and a robust everyday-use treasure.








Lost in books

7 Aug


Bookish week. I saw the artist group aMAZEme constructing this maze of books in the back of the Royal Festival Hall two weekends ago. When you pop in to see it make sure you also check out the Poetry Library on the 5th floor. It is free, has every British poetry book from the last hundred years and more and you can borrow. If you live a way off you can post the books back to return them. It is the perfect risk free way to discover new poets. Then there is Foyles in the basement of the RFH and the main shop across the river on Charing Cross Rd and the Tate bookshop for art books and the second hand stalls under the bridge in front of the NFT. Lots happening on the South Bank these Olympic weeks. The food markets are also on every day.
Grain Edit for the photos of the finished work:

Wearing our best frocks!

27 Jul


Finished today. Another easy make from the “Girls World” pattern book by Jennifer Paganelli, using assorted vintage fabrics from Ardingly fair.
All lined up for the Olympics opening ceremony now trying to explain Maypoles to a 5 year old, trying to explain why there’s a tear in my eye listening to the glories of past Olympics. Pleased Number 1 is old enough to remember this. May London be glorious!

A second sun for London

30 May

Shard second sun

7pm this evening – the Shard reflecting the setting sun looks like a second sun from Old Street. You have Pink Mister to thank for spotting this – he was being all cool and Shoreditch whilst we were bouncing on the trampoline back at the ranch.

Outing: South Bank muses & Turkish Deli

12 Jan

Love the muses painted on the roughed up wall behind the Oxo Tower building.
I always give the shops there a go – I like Bodo Sperlein, though didn’t venture in with Number 2 flailing his arms for fear of smashing the place up – but the whole effect is never as good as it ought to be, too many shops closed, too many jewellers, not enough of a welcome. Perhaps they could look at pop-up rentals for art collectives or groups of designer makers…
Good outing by Number 2’s count – lots of diggers, of all shapes and sizes, cement mixers and dumpers (He makes the word sound like dinosaur, but then he makes ‘chocolate’ sound like ‘toilet’ and his name comes out more like ‘baby owl’ which could stick, like ‘Bear’ Grylls). The various disruption from the shooting Shard to Borough Market, to the Globe, to the smart new Blackfriars station, … is all managed very slickly but I’m sure my tot is one of the few who actually relish its yield of CAT heavy vehicles.
Another find – for me – is The Turkish Deli in Borough Market. Olives, olive soap, food, coffee, turkish delight… Graham there made me a turkish coffee with a perfect piece of pine sap turkish delight on the side. I am converted. The turkish delight is really appealing in its range of flavours and that it contains no nasties or gelatine. I’ll let you know how the olive soap goes but the turkish delight is gone – this time we tried pomegranante & walnut then fig, which was a revelation. This is their website:

Sign painters: Take Courage!

31 Dec

This is one of my favourite London landmarks, visible from the trains running into Charing Cross through Waterloo East and London Bridge and to the walker leaving Borough Market for a leisurely flan along the South Bank. Take Courage. I know it’s just old beer but it galvanises me each time I see it.
There’s a sign painter movie in development by Faythe Levine and Sam Macon in the States:
More power to them in their herculanean endeavour.
I trust someone is preserving our fading painted signs with similar fervour. Since I started looking up I see them everywhere.

PS: Just found this archive of UK ‘ghostsigns’ c/o the History of Advertising Trust