Yes, I was in Ravenscourt Park on Thursday evening, having a Libertarian Lads dinner in restaurant there.
As I usually do when visiting spots that are unfamiliar, I was anxious not to be late and so got there very early. Which meant I had plenty of time to photo.
Here are the four:
The first was, obviously, taken at the tube station when I got there.
The second was also taken from the tube station, and makes the local Premier Inn and the building nearer look like all one, with the Premier Inn itself emerging out of the roof clutter which is actually across the road from it. (I do love aligning Things, don’t I?) Premier Inns: Machines For Staying In.
Photo three, taken of and through a bookshop window, is an illustration of the strong Polish presence in Ravenscourt Park. I assume that got started right after WW2, when exiled Poles decided they’d prefer to stay that way, what with the USSR having conquered their preferred country of choice.
Photo four is a motorbike. I love to photo motorbikes, especially in France, but also in Ravenscourt Park, if Ravenscourt Park is where I am and if Ravenscourt Park is where the motorbike is. This motorbike is trying to be an abstract sculpture, but it didn’t fool me. (It should have hidden its wheels better, for starters.) This is another in my ongoing series of photos that I like, that look like works of Art of the sort that I don’t much like. This fondness of mine, for photos that look like they’re Modern Art but which actually aren’t was something which I later persuaded some of my dining companions to discuss with me, and out of that I got one answer as to why I like such photos, which I may or may not (I promise nothing) tell you about, later, in a different posting.
Indeed. I photoed this scene while walking along the south bank of the Thames from Greenwich to the Dome. My objective was to get another view of the Optic Cloak. But I also observed this, which I think is also sculpture:
As with so much Art these days, whether a Thing is Art or not depends not on its objective nature, but on the intentions of the person who made it, or in this case, who assembled it. Maybe the person who gathered up this rubbish was doing a sculpture. Or, maybe he was just collecting up rubbish, prior to disposing of it.
It looks like Art to me. But Art or not, this has been the photo on my computer for the last month or so. So, I don’t whether it’s Art, but I like it. Although, when I say “it” what I mean is I like my photo of it. The Thing itself, not so much.
After I photoed those metal men beside the river; outside the old Woolwich Arsenal, I then walked up river towards the Dome, photoing photos like this:
However, just before photoing that photo; I photoed this next photo, of a painter, hard at work:
And here is the photo I photoed of how he was making this scene look:
The painting above had yet to say this, but that is the Tate & Lyle factory just south of London City Airport.
I asked this artist’s permission to photo his painting, which he graciously gave, but I did not ask him who he was. The polite way of asking that would have been to say: Do you have a website? But, alas, I forgot to ask this: So, no link to any website, Apologies to him if he does have a website, and apologies to you.
The designated starting point of my walk beside the river last Monday was Assembly (that being a photo of Assembly being assembled), the sculpture assembly outside the Woolwich Arsenal next to the river:
Those are some of the photos I photoed, and they are pretty much the photos everyone else photos of these metal men, and pretty much the same as the photos I photoed when last I visited these men (LINK TO THE OLD BLOG). That was in April 2011. It doesn’t feel like it was that long ago, which I think is because these metal men, once seen, are not soon forgotten.
Assembly is the work of Peter Burke. My googling skills are such that I often have to have several goes at a subject before I find my way to the stuff that I find the most informative and interesting. I can just about remember visiting the Peter Burke website, but I don’t recall ever reading this biography of Peter Burke before. Nor do I recall learning that this Assembly assembly began life somewhere else. Or maybe he did an Assembly for that rural setting, and then did another Assembly for outside the Woolwich Arsenal. Yes, probably that. Burke is big on mass production, like his contemporary and mate (apparently) Gormley.
And, I certainly never watched this video of Peter Burke speaking until now. As with all artists talking about their work, I see rather little connection between what he says about his work and what the work says to me. But at least what he says is mostly accurate, in that he mostly describes how he made it. There is hardly any pretentious art-speak bollocks of the sort that would get him sneered at at Mick Hartley‘s.
A key to why I like Peter Burke is that before he started doing art he was a Rolls Royce engineer, working on aero-engines. He liked and still likes how stuff like that looks. Snap. Unlike me, from then on, he knew how to make it.
But someone could do all the things Peter Burke describes himself doing when he does his art and produce art that says nothing to me at all. Insofar as he does describe what he thinks his art actually means, he pretty much loses me. Which might explain why I only like some of his art, such as Assembly.
What I get from Assembly, as well as the obvious military vibes I wrote about in that 2011 posting, is something to do with stoicism, emotional self-control, being a man, being a man under extreme pressure while keeping your manly cool. Even to the point of looking rather comical while doing all this.
One of the things explained in the article linked to in the previous posting is that product placement often happens in a quite subtle way, without the brand being spelt out clearly, for everyone to see. Street art adverts can be part of a campaign, and the street art bit only makes sense if you also notice the rest of that campaign.
So, for instance, is this, also spied in Bermondsey by me the day before yesterday, also some kind of advert?:
I googled “red chameleon” and found two books both called that, but no other products. No beer. No deodorant. No dating site for psycho-communists.
So, maybe it’s just a painting, of a red chameleon.
LATER: And it would appear that these are just flamingos:
I also saw them on my Stoke Newingtonian travels.
Both the flamingos and the red chameleon are, it would seem, the work of Frankie Strand. That she signed the chameleon was a clue. And a little googling got me to her particular fondness also for flamingos.
Given what Ms MacDonald means by “the People” (the people who ruin all the places they get control of), this development is to be welcomed. Compared to ruination by a diverse array of people, all with the same ruinous opinions, advertisers trying only to sell you stuff are a breath of fresh air.
Here is an example of this process at work, spotted by me in Stoke Newington, the day before yesterday:
Vans like this are different, and thus attract attention. They certainly got mine. Many beer drinkers will surely have been persuaded to wonder what this particular beer tastes like. If it tastes like crap, advertising won’t save your product. But if the product is good but is being ignored, advertising is just what you want.
But, all you graffitists who have sold out or who would like to, be warned. Soon, this style will look rather ordinary, once lots of others have started doing it. At which point people like me won’t photo it any more, and commerce that is trying to attract attention will be on to the next aesthetic fad.
What these photos, photoed just after I’d photoed these photos, only show a few glimpses of is how different the OC looks, depending on the light’s strength, its direction, and its colour. All of the above photos were photoed from the western, upstream side of the OC, as I moved from north to south, and all on the same day. There’s a whole different set to be taken from the east, or from the West on a different day.
This is something that all the best London Things, Big or, as in this case, not so Big, have in common. (I’m thinking in particular of the Shard and of the Walkie Talkie and, more recently, of the Scalpel (which is only very small in that photo, but which does wonderful things with the light).)