I grew up on the Beautiful Game. I’m of the generation whose pre-Premier League childhood memories associate the game with dodgy perms and mullets (hello Chris Waddle…), the final years of standing on the terraces as the norm in the top flight, and the weekly Saturday afternoon ritual of listening to the wonderful James Alexander Gordon read the classified football results on the radio. It wasn’t a girl’s world back then, but I was still utterly entranced by it all.
Oxford Street in the run-up to Christmas (or at any time, really) can be hell on earth. Indeed, I remember getting uncomfortably stuck in a human traffic jam at Oxford Circus the day before Christmas Eve some years ago, after being unwillingly dragged up there for some last-minute shopping by a friend – I vowed ‘never again’ after that!
But while walking down towards Marble Arch and the bus home one evening a few weeks ago, I was struck by how pretty a lot of this year’s Christmas lights are, especially the delicate silvery-white sparkling globes strung across the length of Oxford Street. This makes a change, as anyone who witnessed the horribly tacky and disappointing ‘sponsored’ lights of the last few years will agree.
Walking to the doctor’s surgery this afternoon, I came upon this small, half-bare tree, spindley branches reaching up towards a near-perfect blue sky. Still partly dressed in its vivid Autumn colours, the contrasts of colour, shape and texture were immediately striking.
As the days get shorter, and the nights longer and colder, such flashes of colour become fewer and further between – so be sure to enjoy it while it lasts, Winter is definitely on its way…
These photos show just a small amount of the physical damage done by riots and looting in London on the night of 8th August 2011. They were taken the following day in Ealing, west London (which is local to me) and Camden/Chalk Farm in north London (an area I know well). I chose to document these areas because they are places I have personal links to. Fortunately, these areas were not as badly hit as other parts of London were, and some of the damage had already been cleared up before I got there – but you can still see the destruction caused by the unrest.
(Note: Some of these images are low-pixel cameraphone shots because my usual camera battery ran out)
There’s been a spate of witty and amusing placards and banners on show at various recent demonstrations in London (current favourites include the Father Ted-inspired ‘Down with this sort of thing!’, ‘Capitalists of the world ignite’ and ‘I bet they still have EMA at Hogwarts’). I spotted this librarian making a damn good point at yesterday’s massive March For The Alternative…
We are staging a one hour showcase celebration of the arts to draw attention to the deceptive manner in which the government is using the deficit and the national debt as a false licence to withdraw funding from some of the things that as a nation we collectively hold most dear.
Government cuts are at risk of making The Arts something which only the wealthy can participate in, study, watch and love. By peaceful demonstration we wish to highlight what a valuable asset The Arts are to our culture – and how much richer we are as individuals and as a people because of them – Dance Against The Deficit Lies press release.
So, on a damp Friday lunchtime in January, a group of party people with a serious purpose descended on the Bank of England in the City of London in order to go some way towards proving these points. Dressed in brightly coloured clothes or silly costumes and clutching placards opposing the planned cuts to the arts, the police and bemused passers-by looked on in astonishment as they happily danced outside this famous old building to some excellent tunes from a portable sound system before peacefully dispersing after an hour (see below for pics).
Happy New Year! And as a special New Year’s treat, here’s another photo of some of the fascinating and excellent underground art displayed under the Westway in London’s Ladbroke Grove last month by the Mutate Britain team.
Bringing us street art, grafitti art, kinetic sculptures, modern mosaics, poster art, paintings and photography from 130 different artists all working in different mediums and with different approaches, the One Foot In The Grove Winter Exhibition was far more fun, entertaining and thought-provoking than any normal art exhibition has any right to be (despite the freezing cold!), and featured some art you won’t see anywhere else.
Like this guy, for example. He’s a great example of the inventive and witty art on display at Mutate – and proof that traffic cones can be put to more creative uses than just being worn as hats by pissed-up students…
This cute little fella is a… well, I’m not entirely sure what he is, but he’s definitely rather sweet, and he looks like he might be an environmentally friendly, low-maintenance type of pet too, seeing as he’s made of 100% recycled materials.
He’d certainly be cheap to feed, seeing as his diet seems to consist solely of old drinks cans, and he probably wouldn’t need very much in the way of exercise. The perfect pet in many ways!
I want one….
And if you want more information about Mutate and some great images of their art, check out the Mutate Britain blog.
Originally uploaded by slow_fade
Sadly, yesterday was the final day of the brilliant One Foot In The Grove art event in West London. If you weren’t able to make it down to Ladbroke Grove to check out Mutate’s memorable Winter Exhibition, fret not, for – as promised – I bring you some exclusive images of all this amazing renegade art
This image shows the far wall of the gallery room, which was used to showcase unusual, witty and though-provoking poster art, sculpture, photography and other objets d’art. However, despite initial appearances, this is not a conventional art gallery.
There are no bored-looking security guards ensconced on plastic chairs, just ready and waiting to give you a good telling-off if you get a millimetre too close to the artworks. There’s no insistence on a pretentious dimly-lit hush being necessary for appreciating the art all around you. There’s no expensive catalogue, badly-written in incomprehensible arty-farty language, which leaves you even more mystified as to what it’s all about than you were in the first place.
Instead, this is about the art, and about the people who make and who love the art. This is about democratising art, making it open to anyone and everyone, of any age and any background. This is about making art fun, making it an experience, about completely breaking all the conventional rules of art and art appreciation.
This is about real art, and real artists. This is about taking art back to the people at long last. This is a very different sort of gallery.
Watch out for more Snapshots from Mutate Britain over the festive season!
If you want more information about Mutate and some great images, check out the Mutate Britain blog.
Originally uploaded by slow_fade
Here’s a sneak peek at what’s going on under the Westway in London’s Ladbroke Grove right now. Readers with long(ish) memories will recall that I posted some photos of the One Foot In The Grove art event back in October, when it was first on. And now it’s back, with some exciting new art, in the run-up to Christmas.
As before, the exhibition is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday until 20th December (there’s also a Wednesday night opening between 6-10pm on 16th December). Kids are welcome too – and they seem to love it just as much as the grown-ups do! Wrap up warm, bring the family or your mates and check out the most original and interesting art exhibition in London. You’ll love it, even if you think you don’t like art, I promise…
You’ll find amazing art, great tunes, art and other goodies to buy, food and a licensed bar (serving some lovely hot rum punch) – one of the few in London where you can still smoke! – at:
3-6 Acklam Road (under the Westway)
London W10 5YU
Nearest tube: Ladbroke Grove
And keep an eye out here for more of my photos!
December has only just arrived, and London is already decked out in all her finery for Christmas. The famous and gaudy Christmas lights of Oxford Street and Regent’s Street have been on for a couple of weeks now (personally, I wasn’t impressed), and the shops have been full of Christmassy stuff since the middle of October at least.
Of course, that’s assuming you can wade your way through the stressed-out throngs of Christmas shoppers who are already filling the shopping streets and malls of the city.
But there are some things about Christmas time in London that I do like. I’m grumpy about Christmas, but I’m also a bit sentimental when it comes to certain seasonal things. I like walking through the cold streets after dark, all wrapped up warm, and looking at Christmas trees lit up and twinkling in people’s windows as I pass.
I like carol services, despite not being religious in the slightest. I like the Christmas lights on the South Bank, and driving down the Great West Road to look at the numerous Christmas trees along its length. I like walking in Richmond Park on a frosty morning.
And I like the idea of the outdoor skating rinks that seem to sprout like mushrooms at historical sites all over the city. These days, you can go skating at Kew Gardens, or Hampton Court Palace, or even at the Natural History Museum, where this photo was taken.
I love the contrast between the wintery sky and both the imposing bulk of the museum and the gaily-lit merry-go-round, it neatly defines the duel nature of the season. Winter is a cold and dark time which hangs heavy on us all, but that is offset by the light and warmth of whichever midwinter festival you celebrate, because they all serve that same purpose.