Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Ruin Lust - Tate Modern - last few days

Azeville 2006 - Jane & Louise Wilson

I am always missing exhibitions which, when launched, I make a note of wanting to see, then somehow before I know it, it's all over

This time I took the morning out from under my work load and took myself off to Millbank to check out the 'Ruin Lust' exhibition.

Vauxhall looked grim yesterday morning, but the bus took me swiftly to the rear of the Gallery and into the new entrance. So sleek and spacious. Art Fund card at the ready I got in at half-price (thank you son for the wonderful Christmas gift!) a bonus!

The last time I had visited was the Pre-Raphaelite Exhibition and for some reason did not notice the abstract decoration of the stairs leading up to the other galleries. Why? Because its a new wall drawing by David Tremlett , it creates a wonderful colour blast in this large stairwell.

Large space! Walked into a display of enormous proportions, installations created with pallets, chipboard, old dust sheets, cardboard, string, tape, wire, paper,  wooden planks all displayed lying, hanging, piled high, nailed into huge pyramids of .... one visitor asked the Guide if one of the pieces had 'fallen over'!  A bit like the Shard question 'When will they finish it?'. A Tate Britain commission by Phylida Barlow.

No its not fallen, as installed.

I moved on as I could hear the voice of James Mason (would recognise those tones anywhere - annoyingly it was sub-titled in english!!!!). A film was on a continuous loop - The London Nobody Knows 1967' about the Bedford Theatre in Camden, Marie Lloyds's favourite. It included the old time favourite 'The boy I love sits up in the gallery' . I said to the chap who was checking the tickets 'You must know every word of that song by now? he looked at me blankly. Perhaps he had become traumatised? Ok, let's move on.

What is it about ruins?  As a child I love to play in deserted houses, army camps, old mills/factories, as an adult I'm always drawn to the ancient and derelict and have been lucky to live in places such as Cyprus to seek out the amphitheatres and temples, North Africa (Tripoli) trips out into the desert to seek lost cities. At home never happier when visiting a ruined cathedral, church or mansion.  As a City Guide I can see a ruin a day each time I enter the City and am constantly drawn and thinking about timelines, and wonder what it was like to live when ruins were proud edifices. Nostalgia, I'm of an age, when it is with me often.

No photographs allowed in the exhibition and the catalogue is in fact a book, a current trend for galleries it seems, which means the pictures are small and you cannot really appreciate their beauty. A book goes on the shelf and catalogue on display.

Turner appears often, there is also a Constable (note the shepherd with his red kerchief), Paul Nash (including photographs) and Piper, also Dore and an amazing birds-eye view of the Bank of England as built by Soane by Joseph Michael Gandy, its beautiful frontage leading the eye beyond to ruins ... perhaps an omen of what was to come, its eventual destruction.

The photography was particularly moving. Eerie, atmospheric, spooky and often sad and depressing.
Clapton Park Estate being demolished from a series of photographs by Rachel Whiteread. Others Jon Savage Uninhabited London 1977-2008, could only recognise one the Great West Road flyover towards Heathrow. Tacita Dean, remember Sound Mirrors 1999 - film about early-acoustic warning structures? There is whole wall dedicated to her work plus an audio installation - a film about the Kodak factory in France prior to its closing, entirely made of old colour and black and white film stock from that very place. Mesmerizing.

My favourite is the monolith depicted in Azeville 2006 by Jane Wilson and Louise Wilson (see above). An anti-aircraft turret, I think. The size of it, a massive concrete structure, gaping black hole, 'portal into the past' a permanent reminder of WWII - the remains of the Nazis' defensive Atlantic Wall.

Another thought provoker and curioustiy arouser,  is John Latham's Derelict Land Act:Five Sisters 1976. Originally a proposal to convert five shale heaps or 'bings' into monuments rathen than excavated and removed. The idea to shape them into five books, with their bindings upwards would have been a sight to see, on a scale much larger than the Angel of the North.  A man way ahead of his time suggesting preserving industrial waste land as a tourist attraction as sculptures; monuments to West Lothian's mining past 'bleak zones as memorials or works in themselves - in short, as ruins.' What a tourist attraction that would have made! Nostalgia again for me, memories of playing on the slag heaps of Wigan!

Slag heap - Wigan 1970s
That could be me on the left!

There are other audio installations too, which reminded me of Mad Men, then I discovered why. I'll leave you to find this one out for yourself.

The exhibition ends on Sunday 18th May, go to it.

A city - any city, every city - is the eradication, even the ruin of the landscape
from which it rose. In its fall, that original landscape sometimes triumphs.

Rebecca Solnit, The Ruins of Memory 2007

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Wax Chandlers Hall & City in Bloom

As part of the Britain in Bloom campaign Friends of City Gardens are supporting the City of London in their 'City in Bloom' nominations.

The gardens and green spaces as you know from previous blogs and my garden walks are very important to the City as areas for rest and relaxation for the workers as well as to encourage bio-diversity within a built environment, plus to add colour, shade and areas of peace and calm.

I am enjoying my role to nominate companies, pubs, restaurants, livery halls, banks et al. From a window box or planter, to an 'avenue' of bay or olive trees, a sunken garden, a high rise arboritum, I'm in there!

It's early days but I have already signed up some delightful displays, the nominations have to be in by the end of June so the judging can start, so if you have a particular favourite City in Bloom area please let me know.

During my search for nominations the Beadle of The Wax Chandlers Hall - they have been winners of The W.C. of Gardeners Awards for several years running, so they are a strong contender for the 'window box' category -  invited me to view their Court and Great Hall.

The Wax Chandlers Hall has been rebuilt and refurbished on several occasions but since the early C19th on the same foundations. In days gone by it was the site of a tavern! The interior was refurbished in the 1980s and I must say they are extraordinarily modern, bright and light and yet in keeping with the old traditions, employing panelling, lighting, curtain treatments, with gorgeous chandeliers to create a refined elegance that enhances the ancient livery and its artefacts.

Stained glass window survived from previous
halls and now on full view in the Court Room.
Previously hung in the stairwell unseen.

Below are listed some of the original members -
one or two of the families continue to be represented in livery

The Charter from Richard III - Only livery company to receive on
from this King

Recently presented with a new Charter by Queen Elizabeth II
This one is in 'plain' english and can be read easily
It refers to the Charters given previously which is considered unusual

The origins of the livery company

The company in keeping with modern traditions is a member and great supporter of The British Bee Keepers Association.  Bees are very popular in the City of London and several companies keep hives on their roof tops.