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Discovering London

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Monday, 25 April 2011

The Floral Street Ear. It's Different, but it's not a Nose.

Pleased to get this snap of the famous Floral Street Ear on a sunny day. I am still searching for all the (unrelated) Seven Noses of Soho. I won't blog about them (or stop looking) until I find them, it might be bad luck, after all infinite wealth is at stake.

The Floral Street Ear

The Floral Street Ear

The artist is Tim Fishlock, who apparently put similar ears all over London about a decade ago. I would be interested to hear of any other sightings.

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Morning Joe in Trafalgar Square

Wandering past Trafalgar Square again today I noticed that yesterday's "Tahrir Square" style demonstration had left and had been replaced by NBC. The "Morning Joe" show are in town, to the bemusement of locals and the apparent delight of American's who knew who the key people were.

You sort of knew that you were in the presence of celebrity as they passed by, even if you didn't know their names or what they were famous for. Other people's celebrities are fascinating, you see them, all immaculately groomed and cosseted, confident yet aloof, smiles on a dime, constantly performing to an appreciative audience that may not actually exist in their proximity. I imagine that if Sian Williams and Bill Turnbull were filming in Rockefeller Plaza it would be a similar experience for the locals.

Shortly after they brushed passed me, on their way from the Green Room, they were in front of the cameras and I had my celeb-instinct vindicated.

Well, welcome to London Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough et al, I hope you get an opportunity to enjoy a little relative anonymity during your stay.

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All You Can Eat Street

Spotted high up, on the south east corner of Frith Street and Shaftesbury Avenue in Soho. Advert or admonishment?

I rarely do the "All You Can Eat" places now.  Maoz and Pollo's are so nearby, so cheap and so filling that even unending buffets of vegetarian duck and prawns can't tempt me away. I suppose I am spoilt.

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Ben Eine's Nursery Rhyme

Not long left for this mural in Mercer Street, Covent Garden.

Ben Eine's "Oranges and Lemons" was unveiled last month on the wall of the London Graphic Centre. It seems a shame that by mid May it will be gone. Art Republic commissioned the work, could they not be persuaded to let it stay on indefinitely? More details about the piece here.

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Sunday, 24 April 2011

Regent Remoulds and BP Energol Keep Me on the Road!

I saw these two lovely old adverts in the entrance to the Soho Car Park today.

Isn't it funny how old adverts can be so pleasurable, whilst contemporary adverts can be so annoying. It must be age, I am sure my children will one day take similar delight in an unscraped Adidas ad from "Back in the day".

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Tahrir Square in WC2? Seven Tents, a Gazebo and a Box of Chalk. Elsewhere, Loyalists Stage Counter-Demonstration With Lots of Ribbon.

I just caught a bus from Trafalgar Square. I noticed this small, confusing demonstration.

In addition to proclaiming Trafalgar Square to be occupied, the occupants of the seven tents had written various messages in chalk on the York Stone flags.

All good stuff, conspiracy theories, hormonal angst and a quest for meaning.Then I spotted this one.

Ahh, so AV will rectify it all then and all the more quickly by donning a hash-tag.

Shortly before I had been on Bedford Street where I saw this.

The Bible of domestic service has gift-wrapped herself for the wedding.

Maybe it is the April heatwave, perhaps we all over do it a bit.

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The Birchin Lane Tiles

This little work of art has been on the south west corner of Birchin Lane, in the City of London, for a couple of years now.

I have never been able to track down the artist, does anyone know whose work this is and if there are other London examples? 

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Tower of London Lions

I went to the Tower of London yesterday with the intention of seeing Kendra Haste's new menagerie of animals for the summer exhibition. The holiday queues put me off. However, I was pleased to see that her lions are positioned outside the Tower and can be seen for free just near the entrance.

I'll wait until next week to snap the other animals.

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The Philpot Lane Mice - No Longer the Smallest?

I wrote about the Bourchier Street Pig the other day. It is still there. Does this mean that it now qualifies as the smallest permanent sculpture in London? The previous acknowledged holders of this record are the Philpot Lane Mice.

The mice are still fighting over a piece of cheese on the Philpot Lane side of 23 Eastcheap. They apparently date from 1862 when  the building was constructed for the spice merchants Messrs Hunt & Crombie by John Young & Son. I can't think of another piece of Victorian street art in London,  so if the Bourchier Street  Pig now claims the crown of smallest sculpture, perhaps the mice can go for the "Oldest Street Art" title instead.

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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Too Many Laws Too Few Examples

Carved into the terracotta facade of a building on the corner of Davies Street and Mount Row in Mayfair, are these three concrete poems.

Les Mots Juste Sont Entendus Par Toutes Les Consciences

Too Many Laws Too Few Examples
Where Man Obeys Without Being Presumed Good There Is Neither Liberty Nor A Native Land

They are the work of the remarkable Ian Hamilton Finlay, CBE (not Findlay OBE as the small, misleading plaque states!). The words come from the French Revolutionary and poet Louis de Saint-Just.

Ian Hamilton Finlay died in 2006, just a couple of years after he completed this work. He is probably best remembered for his garden, Little Sparta, near Edinburgh, where his passions for sculpture, poetry and gardening are expressed on a grand scale. You can read more about him and Little Sparta here.

The building itself , 21 Davies Street, is by Kohn Pedersen Fox 2004.

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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

One New Change - The Wheeler's

Here are some images of Charles Wheeler's Guardian Lions and St. Georges from the outdoor area on the 6th floor of One New Change. Originally they stood over the entrance to the Bank Of England's Accounts Department, who occupied the site from the 1950's until 2007.

For more Wheeler links, click on the appropriate label.

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Explaining The Great Dangaroo Flood of Old Compton Street

How does one begin to try and explain to visitors this grand looking plaque in Old Compton Street? Click on the image to enlarge it if you haven't read it before.

This surreal plaque stands testament to an immersive cross between fiction and a role playing game. From an authoritative source : 

"Kcymaerxthaere is a parallel universe that intersects with much of our linear Earth. The name comes from the cognate words kcymaara (meaning "the true physicality of the planet") and xthaere (which is a shape with almost an infinity of edges or dimensions--infinity minus 29 to be precise). We explore and tell stories of these other realms through many media, but most famously by installing bronze plaques and historic sites that honor events from the parallel world in our linear world."

So that is that cleared up then. As I began, how does one sum this up for a visitor? I did try today but my Danish wasn't up to the task.

The plaque was installed in 2007 for more on Kymaerica click here.

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Pig on a Tile in Bourchier Street

I spotted this little plastic pig secured to a tile in Bourchier Street yesterday.

The tile is about 4" square. Judging by the mastic securing it to the wall it is a new addition to the abundant local street art. Does anyone know whose work it is, or if there are other similar farmyard animals in the area?

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Monday, 18 April 2011

Kendra Haste's Lions Join Her Waterloo Elephant

Glad to see that Kendra Haste has produced a pride of lions, amongst other creatures, for the Tower of London's summer exhibition on the history of the Tower's Menagerie. Her wire sculptures are incredible. She also produced a wire elephant a few years ago, for a temporary exhibition at Gloucester Road tube and it was purchased by LT for Waterloo Station. It is still there, standing above the main entrance to the Underground.

I haven't seen the lions in person yet, maybe I'll visit them this week. In the meantime there are pictures on her website here.

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Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Odyssey of Bond Street

Three sculptural reliefs on the facade of  a new gallery at 33 New Bond Street, London.

They are the work of Alexander (Sandy) Stoddart who has produced work for the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace and he is the sculptor of “The Pimlico Priapus”, in Vincent Square.

The Richard Green Gallery will be occupying the new building soon. The architects, Adam Architecture say "These pieces illustrate scenes from the Odyssey, chosen as an allegory for the development of Modern art from 1900 to the present day."

More on the artist here.

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Piccadilly Circus - Spot the Difference!

Many currently available London postcards have images that may be a year or two out of date but I think this one is an outstanding example of the lazy use of stock photography!

I bought it yesterday in Piccadilly Circus from one of the souvenir stalls. It was not being sold as a retro or vintage view but was mixed in with all the other "current" (i.e. also often dated) cards.

Zoom into enjoy all the period details.

I have dated the view to 1963 or 64 by the poster for the "Circlorama Cavalcade" which was only open between these dates. In the intervening near half century so many aspects of this view have changed, that I am amazed it is still possible to sell this image to visitors who are able, simply by looking around them, to see that it bears little comparison to the place they are visiting and buying a souvenir of.

As a confessed London nerd though, I am glad that such historic images are still available and so inexpensively, four for a pound!

Does anyone know of an older available view of a London tourist attraction still being sold as current?

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Friday, 15 April 2011

New Street Art in Charing Cross Road

This adapted road sign was standing on the junction of Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue yesterday morning. I doubt if it is still there now.

I have seen this face elsewhere in the West End, does anybody know who the artist is?

Update 1st May 2011: After an email, thank you, I believe the sign was made by one of the LFH crew. More examples of their handiwork here.

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Low Tree Uplifted on Shaftesbury Avenue

I liked this small sign adaptation on Shaftesbury Avenue yesterday.
Not quite as masterly as the work of Dave Askwith and Alex Normanton but still a good bit of work. Reminded by this I went off to snap Askwith & Normanson's superb fake English Heritage Blue Plaque in Golden Square.
The two of them produced a whole series of fake signs a few years ago, each one carefully matching the typeface and colour schemes of official original "targets". They produced a book "Signs of Life" documenting their work and it is still available. There is a feature on them from The Times here.

Now I am not sure if the sign in Golden Square is a fake of a fake! The "original" Askwith & Normanson fake gave the date of Jacob Von Hogflume's residence as 2063, whilst the current sign has moved that date forward by more than a century. Does anyone know the answer?

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Bruce Denny in Soho Square

Yesterday I went to Soho Square to see the temporary exhibition of sculpture by Bruce Denny.
Ascension - Bruce Denny
Intrigue - Bruce Denny
Intrigue - Bruce Denny
The Conversion of St Paul - Bruce Denny

The Conversion of St Paul - Bruce Denny
They will be there all summer as part of Westminster City Council's City of Sculpture Festival. For more details and links to his catalogues click here.

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