Wednesday, 20 September 2017

London Design Festival at the V&A 2017

The London Design Festival is currently well under way, and I visited the V&A Museum which is the hub of the festival, and usually features some interesting installations. They seemed to fall a little flat this year though for whatever reason, and although I did like one offering in particular at the V&A, there was little there that had the 'wow factor'.

My first encounter was Reflection Room, by Flynn Talbot, which I was searching for so hard, and then just happened to stumble across by accident by going through some dark curtains. It was basically a set of coloured strip lights at either end of a corridor that added atmospheric colour, and reflection but little else. The most interesting thing about the space was the vaulted ceiling which was already a feature of the museum space anyway.

My favourite design installation at the V&A was While We Wait, by Elias and Yousef Anastas. I loved both the scale and sculptural qualities of  this tower-like structure which really complemented the museum's other exhibits in the Medieval & Renaissance Room. The tower is made from stone elements from different regions of Palestine which range from earthy reds to bleached limestones. Because of the way the individual stones which make up the tower are cut, they become self-supporting. There was supposed to be an audio-visual component to evoke the middle-eastern surroundings but this wasn't in evidence on my visit.

I loved the shapes of the stones which were like a shoal of fishes swimming in a perpetual circle. They were apparently created via a computer design, cut by robots, and then finished off by hand by local artisans. They interlock beautifully to create pleasing patterns. Quite lovely.

The last installation I visited was Ross Lovegrove's Transmission in the Tapestries Room. I enjoyed the wild undulations and forms created by the fabric which were inspired by the red gown of one of the ladies in the tapestries which adorn the walls. It is an awkward space to fill but the movement in Transmission complements the movement of the hunting scenes in the tapestries. The gold spot surface patterns on the Alcantara fabric of the installation were also quite pleasingly tactile. Although not an outstanding year, I eagerly anticipate next years design efforts.

London Design Festival at the V&A
until 24th September
Reflection Room: Flynn Talbot
While We Wait: Elias and Yousef Anastas
(until 24th September)
Ross Lovegrove: Transmission
(until 8th October)
V&A Museum
Cromwell Road

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Alexander McQueen Menswear AW 2017

I don't want to think of the bleakness of a British winter just yet, but the nights are well and truly drawing in, and there is a distinct chill in the air as autumn appears to have well and truly settled in.  Here looking as proud as the peacocks adorning some of their apparel, are a selection of really strong looks for men in Alexander McQueen's AW 17 collection. The main inspiration was Oscar Wilde, with touches of military uniform, teddy boys and punk bondage. There is some beautiful feather embroidery detailing, and I'm really loving that London map printed suit. 

(All images courtesy of Alexander McQueen).

Friday, 15 September 2017

Man On The Verge

Antony Gormley sculpture spotted on the roof of Burlington Arcade

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Julie Cockburn: All Work And No Play

Regular readers will know that I am a big fan of embroidery and the process of stitching into paper (here), so it was an absolute joy to see these works by artist Julie Cockburn at Flowers on Cork street at the weekend. I love the sense of nostalgia evoked by the relative anonymity of the sitters in these early to mid twentieth century studio portraits, and the vibrantly coloured enhancement of the stitched interventions. The stitched additions look like spirit orbs in some of the works, and in others like cages, or rather the various sitters auras which are supposed to fluctuate and change in colour according to mood, (if you happen to believe in the esoteric). They are also like surreal, modern equivalents of the haloes of saintly figures in Renaissance paintings.

I also like these 'fractured' portraits by Cockburn in the exhibition. They hint at neuroses and something more complex, and perhaps darker in the sitter's psyche, hidden behind the formal, contrived poses presented by the sitters. They remind me of the sense of anxiety evoked in Picasso's Weeping Woman painting in Tate Britain. I really enjoyed this colourful show for both the craftsmanship and processes employed by the artist. The exhibition runs until the end of September.

Julie Cockburn: All Work And No Play
until 30th September
21 Cork Street

Saturday, 9 September 2017

The Monument

Whilst I was in the City I paid a visit to Sir Christopher Wren (and Robert Hooke's), Monument to the Great Fire of London, built between 1671-1677. The Monument is something I've passed and photographed so many times before but never really felt the need to climb. I decided to remedy this on a bright, sunny day which would afford the best views across the city. It was a really enjoyable experience and I wondered why I hadn't done it sooner. The Great Fire started on 2nd September 1666.

The Great Fire of London - Dutch School c.1666

I handed over my fiver entrance fee at the front desk, and began my ascent of the 202 ft (62m) column's 311 steps. It wasn't too hard a trek.

I did begin to feel the burn half way up though, and rested to check my progress out of a porthole. Determined to reach the top nonetheless, I duly soldiered on with wobbly legs and reached the goal.

Some ancient graffiti at the top of the stairs.

The panoramic views at the top were spectacular and well worth the effort of the climb.

Wren's other masterpiece - St Paul's Cathedral

I enjoyed being close to the golden ball of fire at the top, and seeing the twisted tongs of gilded flames licking at the sky.

Amazing London vistas appreciated, it was time for the descent.

One last look back to the top

Back down to earth you are awarded a certificate - a little reward for your efforts, and a nice memento of the climb.

The Monument
Fish Street Hill