Sunday, June 9, 2024

Venus, Goddess of Love

 Here is a beautiful statue of Venus, the goddess of love.  It resides at the British Museum in London and it caught my eye because it just seemed too perfect to be ancient.

The statue was discovered by an artist, Gavin Hamilton in 1775 in Ostia near Rome. The description says that at that time, buyers of ancient statues preferred them to be in tact so missing parts were carved by artists and added. On this statue, the arms were restored.  

16th century artists performed a little surgical correction on a 1st century piece of art.  Fascinating.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

London's Clocks, part 2


Old world clocks can be found on many of London's buildings.  This one has a few modern things attached to it.  This looks like a good place to hang a few CCTV cameras.

This one has a very shiny owl sitting atop it.

This one appears to have some musical accompaniment when it strikes the hour.

This one sits in the courtyard of a London Hotel.  The ship at the top is nice touch.  

Clocks hang from all sorts of buildings. Some tell you the name of the building like in the photo above.

Others add a bit of color and style to the buildings they are attached to.  

I enjoy finding beauties like these.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

London's Clocks


You can find clocks all over London.  They sit at the top of towers, on the sides of buildings and adorn public spaces.

Of course, the most famous of those clocks is Big Ben, the one that sits atop the Elizabeth Tower near the Houses of Parliament.  I think it's fair to stay that almost everyone in the world has heard of Big Ben.

However, did you know there was a Little Ben?  Little Ben is a cast iron miniature clock tower that can be found near Victoria Station on Vauxhall Bridge Road.

Another well known clock in London is The Queen of Time located above the entrance to Selfridges Department Store on Oxford Street.  The Queen of Time was created by Gilbert Bayes. It has proudly "stood at the prow of the Ship of Commerce"since 1931.  Isn't she lovely?  I'm willing to bet that 90% of the shoppers entering Selfridges never look up to admire her.

Next week I'll show you more wonderful London clocks. 

Sunday, May 19, 2024

The World's Most Famous Bed


There was a great article in the New York Times this last week called "How to Navigate London's Wondrous (and very big) V & A Museum".  I enjoyed the article because the author (Andrew Ferren) mentioned all the things I love seeing when I visit the museum.  He touched on the Cast Room which I posted about here and he mentioned the Medieval and Renaissance Gallery that I featured here.  He also mentioned the The Great Bed of Ware and that's when I remembered that I had a photo of that huge bed.

As you can see from the description above, this bed has been famous for a very, very long time.  It was even mentioned in Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night": " many lies as will lie in thy sheet of paper, although the sheet were big enough for the bed of Ware." Reading that article inspired this post.

The article suggest that one should make a day of a visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum and be sure to stop for a lunch break in the Refreshments Room which was the world's first museum cafe.  While you are resting your legs, take in the original 19th century decor.  It is well worth the stop.  

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Seeing the Moon Differently


On October 22, 2023, while I was spending a week in London, I went out for an evening walk when I noticed the moon looking very different than I was used to seeing it.  It looked like it was sliced straight in half.  I snapped this photo with my iPhone.

A few seconds later, I grabbed my Nikon camera and took another photo.  I was mesmerized by this moon in its first quarter phase because I couldn't recall ever seeing it with such a defined, straight up and down slice.  From where I live in Arizona, the first and last quarter moon is always at a slight angle.

So I braced my camera against a sign post, extended the telephoto lens to the max and snapped a few more photos.

I did some research and discovered that the same moon does look different depending on where it is observed on our planet.  

There is more information on moon phases here and here.

It's funny how something so common to all of us can look so different.  It inspired me to do some research.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

A Piece of Scotland in the Heart of London


On one of my walks around London, I was intrigued by this grand looking building and decided to take a closer look.  I found that it is a very elegant hotel.

I walked through an open entrance to discover a large courtyard and this ancient looking stone wall.  For a moment I thought it was an ancient structure being preserved but I learned that it was a temporary installation promoting The Macallan, a single malt whiskey made in Scotland and known around the globe.  The stone walls surrounded a Macallan Amber Meadow.  The stone is called Angus Sandstone, a material used around the world.

The temporary meadow was full of trees and ferns and lots of beautiful Scottish heather.  

It was a tiny bit of Scotland hidden in the heart of London.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Gilt of Cain


This is another public art sculpture located in the City of London on Fenchurch Street.  The artists are Michael Vsocchi and Lemn Sissay.  

It consists of 17 carved granite columns around a granite podium inscribed with words from the poem "Gilt of Cain" by Lemn Sissay.  

The sculpture stands on a spot that was once the churchyard for St. Mary Woolnoth Church and is where William Wilberforce, the abolitionist listened to the sermons of the Rev. John Newton.  Newton was a slave trader turned anti-slavery preacher.  He and Wilberforce worked together to end slavery in the United Kingdom.  

You can find more about the sculpture here.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

The Fourth Plinth


The Fourth Plinth refers to one of plinths (or platforms) at Trafalgar Square in London.  The plinths are positioned on all four corners of the square and three of them have contained statues for many years.  The plinth in the northwest corner has remained empty for over 150 years.  

Around 1998, The Fourth Plinth Project was conceived.  Artists were commissioned to create artworks to be placed on the plinth for a period of time.  

When I was in London last fall, this is the sculpture that was holding this prized spot.

This work was created by Samson Kambalu and it is called "Antelope."  The sculpture is based on a photograph taken in 1914.  Information about it is below.

In 2013, this was the sculpture sitting on the plinth when I visited London.  "Hahn/Cock" was created by artist Katharina Fritsch.  

When I visited London in 2016, this was the sculpture atop the plinth.  This sculpture is by David Shrigley and it's called "Really Good".  

You can find more information about The Fourth Plinth artistic project here.  There is a list of all the artworks that have adorned this spot.  

Sunday, April 14, 2024

City Full of Art


London is a city that is full of public art and it's not all warriors on horseback.  In some places you will find art that is totally unexpected.  Here is a fine example. This is a Wind Sculpture by British/Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare.  His art works are  influenced by cultural identities, colonialism and globalization.  

He has many of these wind sculptures in different sizes, colors and patterns.  I read that there is one in front of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington D.C.  

Here is another sculpture I came across on my wanderings around the city.  This one is a memorial bust of the organist/composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695).  His face is intertwined with flowers and blooms symbolizing " The Flowering of the English Baroque".

This sculpture was created by Glynn Williams and was unveiled on this spot by Princess Margaret in November of 1995.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Industrial Sculpture


When I was making my way to the Tate Britain Museum, I exited the Pimlico Tube station and noticed a rather strange looking structure across the street.  It looked like something out of "Dr. Who".  It appeared to have some kind of purpose but what could it be.  In the end, I couldn't figure it out so I photographed it so I could do some research at a later date.

My investigations discovered that it is a sculpture by the Scottish artist, Eduardo Paolozzi. But, it also has a real purpose.  In the 1980's, the artist was asked to create ventilation shaft cover for an underground car park at this location.  This is that cover.  I love it, something utilitarian as well as artistic.  I always like a piece of art that makes me want to learn more.

Eduardo Paolozzi is the same artist who created this large sculpture that has place of pride in front of the British Library.  This piece is called Newton After Blake. This sculpture is based on a 1795 print called Newton: Personification of Man Limited by Reason.  Paolozzi was commissioned to create a sculpture for the new library and his "Newton"  was installed in 1995.

Paolozzi was fascinated by the relationship between man and machine and turning junk into new forms.  Much of his work has mechanical look to it.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

A Room Full of Copies


There is one large gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum that contain copies or casts of artworks from all over the world. Here is perfect cast of Michelangelo's David.  

Behind David in the lower right you can see a small cast for Donatello's David.

Just to the left of David is a copy of a famous painting that resides in the Vatican Museum. It's a perfect copy of Raphael's The School of Athens.  

This room in the museum was created especially to display these plaster casts that have been part of the museum's collections since the museum was founded in 1851.  

The museum collected these "copies" so that people who didn't have the means to travel could enjoy them and learn from them.

The copies of Trajan's columns are especially impressive.  

I especially liked the cast above.  It is described as a Tympanum dating between 1852-54 from England.   A little research found that this was over a doorway in a church in Shobdon that was demolished in the 18th century.  Two doors from the church were erected in a park in Shobdon as a folly.  This copy was made from that folly in the 1850's.  I found a site with a photo of the original here.  It's very worn but it can still be seen.

To the right is cast of a tabernacle dating to 1876 from Belgium.  

Here is a cast of a massive pulpit.  The cast was made in 1865 but the original from Pisa dates back to 1302.  

If you would like to see a little video tour of this room, there is a short video at this link.

This room is just crammed full of fascinating things to see.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

The Brompton Oratory


I've walked past the Brompton Oratory church once or twice before when I've visited London but I had never been inside.  This time I decided to see what it was like on the inside.

It is located on Brompton Road next door to the Victoria and Albert Museum.  The church is a Neo-classical, late Victorian Roman Catholic Parish.

I slipped inside to have a look around.  As I expected, the church is very grand with lots of marble and gold leaf trim.  It looked as though the church was being prepared for a wedding with two chairs set by the altar and floral trim along the pews.  

The church reminded me of the churches I've visited in Italy.  It had that same grandeur and elegance. 

Sunday, March 17, 2024

The London School of Economics


On one of my walks around London, I found myself wandering around the campus of the London School of Economics.  There were a lot of modern buildings tucked away behind the older hotels and office buildings.  

"The London School of Economics is a place where people with different perspectives engage in respectful debate about major issues for the world."

We could use more of that type of thinking.

That is where I found this incredible piece of art from Turner Prize winning artist, Mark Wallinger.  It was installed here in 2019 and is called "The World Turned Upside Down".  

It is definitely a statement about the turbulent times we live in.  

Mark Wallinger has created many artworks some of them a bit controversial.  He was the first artist to have a work appear on the 4th Plinth at Trafalgar Square.  You can see that sculpture and more at this site.  

Sunday, March 10, 2024

The Worshipful Company of Cutlers


When I was in London last October, on a beautiful, sunny Sunday, fellow blogger Steve (Shadows & Light) and I took a walk into The City to do some exploring.  Along the way, we made a discovery of this beautifully adorned building called Cutlers' Hall.  We wandered over to get a closer look and discovered wonderful terracotta frieze running above the windows.

The frieze consists of 33 figures all depicting the 4 main facets of the cutlers' craft.  They are forging, grinding, hafting and finishing.  

The Worshipful Company of Cutlers is one of the most ancient livery companies in the city of London.  It received its first royal charter from Henry V in 1416.

The company traded in knives, swords and other implements with a cutting edge.  Over time it has shifted from weaponry to domestic wares like cutlery, razors and scissors.  

The building today is used for meetings and events and can be rented by anyone.  The website for the company explains more about the history and has photos from inside the hall.  The man who created the wonderful terracotta frieze on the outside of the building was Benjamin Creswick (1853-1946).  He placed them on the newly built hall in 1887.  
I love London, there is history around every corner.  Take a look at that blue plaque on the wall to the left.  It says it's the site of the Royal College of Physicians (1674-1825).  Medicine was vastly different when the college stood on that site.