Battersea gallery

Yesterday evening I walked over to Battersea, to see how things are going with surrounding the old Power Station with apartment blocks, with sorting out the western end of London’s Big New Sewer, and constructing a new tube station.

In the photos that follow, I concentrate on the new blocks of flats, not least because it is easier to see that, what with it having reached the stage of mostly now being above ground. Tube line and sewer construction remains largely hidden throughout, and in general they tend to be more secretive about such things.

So how are things going with all those flats? How things are going is that there is a lot of building going on, but also, already, a lot of living.

The earliest photos in this gallery show the part where they say: come on it. This is already a place, with people, and food, and a road through to other parts beyond. Then, you walk along one of the oddest bridges in London, over and through what is still a giant building site, right next to the old Power Station, and then you arrive at the bit that is finished and already containing people.

None of the photos that follow are individually that fascinating. But click, click, click your way through them at speed, and you’ll get an idea of how this passing moment in the history of London is now looking:

The photos that concentrate on life being lived, rather than merely dwellings being constructed, concern the London Seafood Festival (that being the only link I now have the time to contrive), which I had definitely not been expecting. But many others had, and were gathered in large numbers to partake.

Then I made my way to Battersea Park railway station, with the last two photos having been photoed from the train that took me to Victoria Station on the other side of the river.

My larger point is this: that the newest and most noticeable London architecture has now done a switch, from the erection of individually crafted and highly visible and recognisable Big Things, to the mass production of generic Machines For Living In and Machines For Working In. So many office blocks and blocks of flats of a certain height, all jammed together in a formerly not so very desirable location, each higher than low but each lower than really high. So much concrete and steel being hoisted into the air by so many cranes. And so many people all being crammed into these new dwellings and new workplaces, as they beaver away at their desk jobs nearby or in The City, and relax by the river in their numerous new eateries and drinkeries down on the ground floors. Yes, this kind of thing has been going on in London for many decades, but just lately, it has shifted up a gear.

That all these new Batterseans will be within walking and face-to-face talking distance of one another is bound to have creative consequences. All sorts of new urban possibilities will become possible.

A lot more of this stuff has been happening out East, in Docklands and beyond. There too (see especially: North Greenwich) things have shifted up a gear. Battersea feels a bit more upmarket than those places down East.

Welcome to the latest version of London.

Gallery means that you decide

One of the many things I love about this new WordPress blog of mine is that I can now do things like this …:

… a lot more quickly. Thank you “Gallery”.

All of the above photos were taken within a few moments of each other, in the vicinity of Battersea Power Station, just over a year ago. Then as now, this place was being transformed.

But there is much more involved in the Gallery improvement than the fact that I can shove up a clutch of photos more quickly than before. Equally important to me is that you now have a lot more control than you used to. You can now spend no more time looking at these photos, unless you want to, than I did when I photoed them. You no longer have to choose between having a quick gander at the above snaps, and having a life.

The difference is that, now, you can click on the first photo, look at it for as much time as you like or as little time as you like, and then click on the arrow on the right, and get straight to the next one. Click click click. I know, I’m rediscovering the wheel here, but if you have been depriving both yourself and your potential readers of wheels for about a decade, wheels are a big deal.

Because you can click through all these photos so speedily, I feel comfortable showing them to you in such abundance. These are not oil paintings, unless you want them to be. I don’t assume that you’ll be wanting to linger over these snaps. Feel entirely free to do that, if you feel inclined to scrutinise any of them at any length of time, but I don’t expect this.

An obvious question arises: If I like the idea of you clicking quickly through the above snaps, why not a video? Well, number one, a video deprives you of control. But also, what I find fascinating about photoing is the extreme difference between how a camera sees things, and how the human eye sees things. Basically, a video camera sees things more the way that we humans do. Our eyes, like video cameras, roam over the scene in front of us. They don’t look at the scene once, the way a camera does when it takes the one photo, and nor does a video camera. A video shows us what’s really going on. It goes behind and beyond those mere appearances.

A photo is something else entirely. It’s a photo! And that makes videos, to me, from this point of view, less interesting.

AEF

Yesterday I walked across Vauxhall Bridge. It’s been a while since I have done this, which is why I only yesterday discovered that just opposite the MI6 building there is a frenzy of excavation activity, in connection with the new giant sewer that they a building along the river.

Here are the photos I took of all this grubbing:

And here is the sign on Vauxhall Bridge Road next to all this activity:

AEF stands for Albert Embankment Foreshore. It seems that all the “Tideway” (i.e. the sewer) sites of a similar sort have a three letter acronym to identify and distinguish them.

This particular location would surely make a great place for James Bond to start doing crazy things in the sewer. All you need is a small passage connecting the sewer to the MI6 building, a distance of about twenty yards, and boom. Away we go, with a car chase or a scooter chase or something, along the sewer. This could all kick off after they’ve finished building the sewer, but before the sewage is actually pouring along it. Maybe while people are inspecting it, to check that all is well, which is why it would be suitably illuminated.

Maybe the chase could precipitate the arrival of the actual sewage for the first time, prematurely, by something like a switch being knocked against by mistake. Both Bond and the Baddie could be overwhelmed by shit in the course of their chase. Along with a whole tribe of health and safety inspectors. That would get a cheer in cinemas.

Trouble is, I seem to recall the MI6 building being destroyed in a previous Bond movie. But what the hell. James Bond keeps being “reinvented”. So maybe the MI6 building could be reinvented, just as it always was before it got wrecked.

It turns out my recollection is faulty. The entire building did not get blown up (in Skyfall). There was merely a rather small explosion, destroying only Dame Judi Dench’s computer, inside the building.

Come to think of it, “Tideway” might be a rather good Bond movie title.

One thing here every day? – Probably Yes (and cranes)

Yes. At the Old Blog, I followed the rule of One Item Here Every Day, pretty much for as long as I can remember, and it worked. Not in the sense that every item was of stellar interest and quality. Far from it. But at least it kept me at it, and ensured that my treasure gang of readers would have something here to divert them, every day, even if they never actually read past the title.

But there were better consequences of this rule than merely that. Quite a few of my better postings were the direct consequence of this rule. I kept on deciding that I had to do something, and ended up doing something quite good. (I doubt this posting will be an example of that, but you never know.)

So, I have in mind that I will keep following that rule here. In that spirit and following this rule, I am now doing this posting.

A regular technique for following the One A Day rule is the Quota Photo. So, here’s one, to celebrate the continuation of this rule:

I photoed this photo at the same time I photoed the first of these two photos.

This second photo, above, featuring crane-on-crane action, makes it clearer that there was actually a man up there, on the big arm of the crane that is presumably still there and hard at work. I presume he was making sure that everything was properly connected, and then disconnected. Truly an Aristocrat of Labour. Whatever they pay him, he’s worth it.

Rubbish photo

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.

A bit before that, I photoed this:

That’s definitely Art.

A photo-expedition that started well and ended well

Today I went on a photo-expedition, my first big one since getting back from France. It went really well, but because it went so well, it also went on a long time, and now I only have enough energy to show you two of the many photos I photoed.

The first, before I got seriously started, while still on the way to St James’s Park tube, is of a crane of one sort making a crane of another sort:

That’s a process I love to see, but seldom chance upon. And because I got to stand right under all this drama, I got to see also how bendy the crane was that was lifting the big bit of the other crane into place. (I also got to think how it would be if that bendy crane snapped and everything came crashing down on top of me.)

And second, when the expedition was basically all done and I was at W.H. Smith Victoria buying the latest copy of Gramophone, I also spotted this:

It’s good to see that Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules is out in paperback, and even better to see that W.H. Smith Victoria now have it as their book of the week.

And then when I finally got back home, I learned that, because Arsenal conceded a home equaliser to Brighton, Spurs are almost certainly going to be in the Champions League next season. (When I left home, Arsenal were a goal up, and were surely going to win, with disastrous consequences for Spurs.) Goal difference. All down to goal difference. Spurs have to lose 0-5 in their final game, and Arsenal have to win 5-0, or some such implausible combination of nonsenses that surely cannot happen – touch wood and hope to die.

Quota photo of a signpost

Yes, I like to photo signposts. You know where you are, with signposts.

Here’s a signpost photo I photoed in March 2012:

But there’s more to it than just having a note of where I was, useful though that is. There’s something about actually seeing those particular names of particular places which makes the fact that this is where I really am – and then later: was – come particularly alive.

As you can tell from the previous paragraph, I don’t really know how to explain this fascination of mine. And just now, I am too knackered, having spent the day recovering from a Last Friday of the Month meeting that happened last night. Dominique Lazanski: very good. My front room: very full. Aftermath: lots of crap to tidy up.

Yesterday was a day when I had to be very energetic and alive, to get ready for that meeting. So, I was. (Hence those four blog postings yesterday.) Today, I could be knackered. So, I was.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A Much Bigger Thing

An airplane approaches London City Airport. There are cranes, leaning away from each other, …

… which was all I thought I was photoing. Until I looked at it at home on a much bigger thing; and saw a Much Bigger Thing:

Yes, the Big Olympic Thing.

Another photo of somewhere, turned into somewhere by the same Big Thing.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A photo of somewhere

Looking out over the gloom of Bermondsey yesterday, with maximum zoom, from the balcony of a friend’s flat:

Despite the dreariness and consequent blurriness, you can clearly see the Big Olympic Thing there. Next to it, right behind the tower of the crane, you can also see, if you look a bit harder, the top of the London Stadium, now the home of West Ham United.

What this photo illustrates, among many other things, is the enormous contribution to a city made by Recognisable and Big Things. Most of what you see in that photo is dull Unless you are a craniac like me) and generic. You could be anywhere. But once you see that contorted red shape, however dimly, you know at once where you are looking and what you are looking at. These Things aren’t called “landmarks” for nothing. They are like giant squirts of solidified piss from God. They mark the landscape. They give it shape and structure. You know where you are with them, but without them, you don’t. Without them, you could be anywhere. With them, everywhere becomes somewhere.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog