Themes #04 – Arts & Design

Welcome to this my fourth blog in my Theme series where I set out the reasons behind my recent selection. Over the past week I’ve posted pictures through my social media channels, and now I can give you a little more detail behind each picture.

I’m using the current Covid-19 lockdown period as an opportunity to showcase more pictures that may previously not have had any prominence, either through my travel blogs or more recently through my Memory collection. 

This week’s theme is all about ‘The Arts & Design’, a look at the creative side of life in and around London. I’ve categorised my pictures as follows: Sculptures & Statues, Street Signs, Patterns & Symbols, Station Names, The Arts and Entertainment. I think the category titles are self explanatory.

So I’ve selected these pictures on the basis that a) they’re an obvious fit, b) I like it’s artistic and/or photographic quality, and c) it has a good story to tell. I hope you agree, but feel free to drop me a line if you’d like to have any other suggestions?

Sculptures & Statues – Silent Dockers

a black and white image os a statue of three dockers going about their business. The background also captures the shadowy image of some of the cranes used in the docking heyday

Another from my day walking around The Royal Docks. But first a word about the abundance of sculptures and statues around London. Some sponsored privately and others publicly, but there’s definitely a trend to open up this creative art form to a wider audience.

It’s always delightful to find an unexpected work of art in a public place. Some are static and others only on display for a short time. So whenever you have the chance to look at them, make sure you do as you’ll not only learn about the work, but maybe look further into the artists or the reason for the work in the first place.

This represents the almost forgotten industry that once made London docks the economic centre of the western world. It’s a larger than life bronze work depicting three dockers grafting. One pushing a barrow, another crouched and the third, possibly the gaffer, overseeing. In silhouette, the gaffer looks almost as if he’s looking at his mobile phone – ha if only. But nevertheless the log book he’s using probably meant as much to him as we feel about our mobile phones today.

I’ve taken the shot directly into the sun to create the strong silhouette and made sure the crane artefacts appear in the background to help with the story telling. I think it’s quite dramatic.

  • Location: ‘London Dockers’ sculpture by Les Johnson in Royal Victoria Square outside the Excel Centre
  • Date/Time: Tuesday January 28th 2020 at 10.43 am 
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ11; Shutter Speed – 1/800; Focal Length – 39mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Street Signs – No.1 Street

a simple street sign displaying 'No 1 Street' from SE18 in the London area of 'Royal Arsenal'

What’s so interesting about a street sign? Well for me it helps identify (obviously) and in a way helps characterise its setting. 
I’ve seen some humorous and/or novel street names, such as Severus Road (for Harry Potter fans), Barnes Pikle and Moromon Terrace, but as soon as I saw this it made me question ‘is this where London started?’

Obviously not, but similarly as with Apsley House which has the postal address ‘No. 1 London’, No 1 Street has a unique sense of ‘I’m the first’

This is a redeveloped street of fashionable residences in the Royal Arsenal Heritage site in Woolwich. The thing about London street signs is that they not only carry the postal district (SE18), but usually some other distinguishing reference point. Sometimes the borough name, and sometimes some other historical reference as in this case, the area described as Royal Arsenal…neat.

  • Location: No. 1 Street, Royal Arsenal Heritage Site, Woolwich
  • Date/Time: Tuesday October 22nd 2019 at 1.15 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 34mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Patterns & Symbols – The RLH

this is a section of the east facade of the Royal London Hospital covered in an array of aerofiols which creates a striking striped black and white covering

Buildings, be they old or new, are built predominantly to be functional, but for some they are designed to demonstrate the architect’s creativity. And having tramped hundreds of miles around London, I’ve seen a wide and diverse demonstration of both attributes.
Some buildings are powerfully prominent, be it for historic reasons, or as observed in more recent times for their flamboyant use of materials. We all have a view, whether we express this or not. Prince Charles clearly didn’t hold back when describing the proposed extension to the National Gallery as a ‘monstrous carbuncle’,  back in 1984.

Notwithstanding their architectural merits, I also look out for patterns in the design. Maybe it’s because of my ‘organised mind’ or the need for order, but I do get some pleasure from seeing things that others might not.

Sometimes patterns are intentionally designed, and sometimes, as in this case, they only emerge at certain times of the day. 

The contrast between the two types of finish is in itself of interest. But with the late morning sun high up casting a shadow on the underside of the aerofoils, the resulting stark black and white effect is quite striking. 

  • Location: Royal London Hospital viewed from Stepney Way, Shadwell
  • Date/Time: Thursday January 16th 2020 at 11.18 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 106mm; Film Speed – ISO400

Station Names – Welcome to Reading

this is a view across Reading station where there are five 'Welcome to Reading' signs

As a matter of record, I would photograph the station names as I travelled on my ‘endoftheline’ journey. Some would be from an interesting angle, but at the end of the day, the station name is a point of reference.

It could be for those arriving at their destination for reassurance that they are at the right station. Or conversely for those travelling to the station to catch their train, reassuring them they are at the right station.

There is a third reason and this picture helps show that. It’s for those weary travellers on long tiring journeys who may just pop their head up to look through the window amid slumber to read where they are? 

The array of signs on each of the 15 platforms here made this so unmissable, and when I viewed them across the platforms, it seemed my view was totally obscured by ‘Welcome to Reading’!

  • Location: Reading Station platforms viewed from Platform 15
  • Date/Time: Tuesday February 4rg 2020 at 11.19 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 106mm; Film Speed – ISO1000

The Arts – A Budding Artist

a child's painting of a boat with charicature crew of a captain and a number of stewerdesses. Emblazoned with the American flag and advertising American Express

I have many examples of street art and graffiti artwork that I could have selected for this category, and whichever I’d have chosen would have just rights to be here.
However, I’ve plummed for this child’s artwork which is part of a wider display.

This is one drawing of many on display emblazoned on the side of building hoardings surrounding a new build at Wood Wharf and Thames Street in Greenwich. Clearly created in conjunction with the adjacent Meridian Adventure Play Centre as part of the developers approach to work closely with the local community.

This one in particular stood out as the artists’ pen strokes are quite delicate, and s/he are obviously looking for marketing opportunities given the invitation to American Express to ‘come along’. Of all the pictures on display, it’s the only one I can see where the artists had mastered the creative signature. It’s amusing.

  • Location: Seen on building hoardings around a construction at Wood Wharf on Thames Street, Greenwich
  • Date/Time: Tuesday August 14th 2018 at 3.47 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 49mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Entertainment – Let The Weekend Begin

five rows of tressle tables with an array of revelers eating and drinking in groups

Musicians, funfairs, museums and exhibitions make up this category, and of the pictures I’d selected for this category, they have mostly featured before in my weekly blogs. 
But this one of the Boxpark by Croydon Station represents a different type of entertainment. The type that the nation has missed for the last four months.

My day at Croydon had been an exciting one, one where I had been introduced to the world of street art, as part of Croydon hosting Rise Festival. Nevertheless, It had been a long day and I was heading back to West Croydon via Croydon station. Now I’d heard of the concept of Boxparks, but not experienced one, and what a buzzing place this was.

Bare in mind it’s just gone 5.00 pm on a Friday afternoon, and people are heading home, so the scene I share with you is of those relaxing, meeting friends and ‘switching off’ after a busy week’s work. The scene is influenced by the DJ in the background who was noticeably cranking up the bass as I stood, almost mesmerised by the sound of excitement in the air. 

Look closely and see how many groups there are just chilling with their mates or colleagues, or just waiting for someone else to join them for a drink. What a great way to begin the weekend. But sadly one that’s not been seen for several months due to the Covis-19 restrictions. No doubt there will be those cherishing the easements recently introduced.

  • Location: The Boxpark at Croydon Station
  • Date/Time: Friday September 7th 2018 at 5.21 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4.5; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 33mm; Film Speed – ISO320

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