There has been lots of photo-reminiscing here lately, so here are some photos I took much more recently. Well, in May of this year anyway:
Yes, it’s the lion at the South Bank end of Westminster Bridge.
This South Bank Lion has quite a history, the strangest thing being that it used to be red. I was going to show you the “photo” of the lion when it was red that I found
here, until I realised it was faked with Photoshop. But that link is worth following.
The lion hasn’t always perched on the bridge. His first home was on top of the Lion Brewery, a booze factory once based on a site now occupied by the Royal Festival Hall.
I bet the brewery would have made a better concert hall than the accursed RFH.
This photo, on the other hand, of the lion with men and scaffolding is genuine:
The photograph above was kindly shared by Nick Redman of London Photos, whose grandfather (second on the left) was one of the scaffolders who helped move the lion from the soon-to-be-demolished brewery.
That’s the Tate Modern extension nearing completion, photoed by me five years and one day ago. So not really now. But the scaffolders and the craners do now still thrive.
Quota photos because I spent the morning failing to finish another piece of writing which just grew and grew. And now, I have to go out and Do Things, which always tires me out these days, so I wanted to have something here before I went out. More later. Maybe.
So here are a few more statue photos I photoed recently in Parliament Square, including the above two personages, but adding Gandhi and Millicent Fawcett, basically because I like the photos:
And while I’m on the subject of statues, I recently checked out the statues of Lord Dowding (of Battle of Britain fame) and Bomber Harris (of WW2 bombing offensive infamy) outside St Clement Danes, at the other end of the Strand from Trafalgar Square:
I knew that, when I got to this spot, I’d encounter Dowding and Harris. Ben Johnson and Gladstone were both surprises.
Memo to people intending to end up as statues in London: Join the RAF and wear a hat with a flat top sloping slightly backwards. That way, you won’t get pigeon shit on your face. Seriously, someone badly needs to invent an invisiblepigeon scarer. Some kind of tiny electronic device that vibrates in a pigeon-scaring way, solar powered so it will go on working for ever.
The above link to my recent pigeon scaring posting being the only link in this posting, apart from the one at the top about the graffiti (so as people reading this in a year’s time will understand which current events I’m referring to), which is a bit lazy and a bit egocentric, but I’m in a hurry to get ready for something else. You surely have all the words you need to find out whatever you want to find out, e.g. if you are a Young Person wanting to find out if Churchill was anything else besides being a racist, or if Lincoln did or said anything about black slavery in America, besides being President at a time when there were still black slaves. (While you’re learning about that, try finding out what Gandhi said about Apartheid, when he was younger and living in South Africa.)
I’m back from my photo-walk and it was every bit as physically knackering as I feared. But, what with me having done more than one posting here each day for the last few weeks now, here is another quota photo.
Despite the effort, it was a fine expedition nevertheless. My better photo-walks often begin with fun photos as soon as I step out the door, and today’s was like that:
That scaffolding has been there for ages, what with The Plague. There being at the mini-roundabout where Great Peter Street meets the top end of Horseferry Road and the southern end of Strutton ground. They’re doing something to the fire station there. But what? I’m waiting to see.
For me, January 17th 2019 began wonderfully, with scaffolding.
I was on my way to meet up with occasional commenter here Alastair James, in Docklands, and it was a great day. Meeting him in Docklands was great, and what I saw afterwards was great too. Highlight: the Optic Cloak, one of my favourite pieces of London public sculpture.
In among those highlights, I also got to see the architectural state of affairs in Docklands. It helped that it was January so the trees helped rather than getting in the way.
I was especially impressed by One Park Drive, which has a real Chicago vibe to it. Right down to “Park Drive”, which sounds very Chicago to me. Definitely USA.
On the left, below, is how One Park Drive was looking in January 2019:
And on the right there is how it is looking now, in a Mick Hartley photo posted on his blog yesterday. He calls Docklands:
A ghost town waiting for the world to start up again.
Which sounds about right. Except that ghosts don’t like hot and sunny weather, do they? (Good news: nor does the Coronavirus.)
I hadn’t realised, when I saw it, how much taller One Park Drive was eventually going to be. Like so many buildings these days, it maybe looked more fun when being constructed than it looks now it’s finished. All those ziggy-zaggy bits of concrete, somewhat smoothed out in the finished Thing.
This afternoon, I ventured out of doors. What with the weather being so nice:
Because public transport has recently been something that Non-essential Workers (apparently the world can do without personal blogs if it has to) have been discouraged from using, so for the last few weeks, I couldn’t just go somewhere by tube or bus, then walk where I wanted to for as far as I wanted too, and then grab the nearest tube or bus back home. It no longer works like that. The further I now walk, the further I have to be willing to walk back.
So, me and my camera are focusing in a whole new way on places within easy walking distance of home.
Today, I walked through the back alleys of Millbank, past pollarded trees just beginning to assert themselves with leaves, but not so much as to become boring. I went past the statue of John Everett Millais (I took photo-notes), who stands at the back of Tate Ancient, and was then beside the River, looking at Things on the other side, and at Lambeth Bridge, which I had in mind to cross. This time, the tide was higher
What is that Ancient Tower that looks like someone stole it from Tower Bridge? The one in Photo 5 above, in the middle. I’m too tired to track it down. I was out walking in London today, and I am too knackered to care, for now. Anyone?
I did cross Lambeth Bridge, St Mary’s Gardens being just on the other side of it, next to a church, St Mary’s Church presumably.
And then I wandered in the general direction of Waterloo, and made a strange discovery, which I’ll tell you all about some other time, maybe, I promise nothing.
This is a little patch of nearby London that I have very seldom explored. I know what I will see on the other side of Vauxhall Bridge, because I often go to Vauxhall Station, or beyond to the Oval, to say nothing of being intrigued by that weird Bus Thing. And I used constantly to cross Westminster Bridge, photoing photoers, and in search of classical CDs in Lower Marsh, and of much else, like closer-up views of how the City of London’s Big Things have been progressing. I still do, quite often. But the little patch of London life beyond Lambeth Bridge, along Lambeth Road and nearby roads, is far less well known to me. I know it a bit better now.
And then when my wanderings were done and I was knackered, I tried, for the first time since Lockdown started, to take a bus back home. And I succeeded! The bus was three quarters empty. The driver made no attempt to persuade me to continue walking, and nor did anyone else. Plus, the driver was taped off, like he was a crime scene, which was a sufficiently strange circumstance for me to reckon it worth photoing, and again, nobody thought to interrupt me while I did this:
All of which meant that I got back home sooner than I feared I would, and far less knackered than I feared I would be.
Being unable to use public transport, but still allowed to venture out of doors on foot, I have been concentrating my photographic attention on nearby places. And I have become especially fixated on the statues in Parliament Square.
I show you the one on the left because it shows when not to try photoing some of these statues, namely those on the opposite side of Parliament Square from Parliament itself. I photoed that one on April 6th, in the quite late afternoon. Don’t try to photo these statues late in the afternoon, when the light is behind them to the west, unless all you want is silhouettes.
On the right is a photo I took this morning, when the light was coming from the east.
But the light coming from the east needed to be of a particular sort, which at first I got rather wrong, as the next two photos illustrate:
That’s Nelson Mandela, as I am sure you realise. The one on the left is a photo I took on the morning of April 26th, a morning I chose because it was so sunny. However, it was too sunny. By then, there were leaves (I constantly find leaves to be the enemy of successful photoing) casting random shadows over everything, and making it hard to discern the patterns on the surface of the statue,and totally messing up his face.
So, when I returned today, in the morning, I had chosen a less sunny morning, to see if that made things better. It did. Instead of the light crashing like a searchlight upon everything, and remembering all the things that had got in its way on the way to its destination, the light this morning wasn’t crashing anywhere. It was merely flowing gently, everywhere, in all directions, like a set of blurry lamps instead of one brutal searchlight. Hence the relative success of the photo on the right.
Until now, I have not tried very hard to photo statues. I have tried, but not very hard. I just photoed and hoped for the best, without wondering why it worked sometimes rather than at other times. But, I had begun to think that the sort of light I normally most enjoy for photoing, bright sunshine, might not be the best sort of light for statues. This morning, I paid attention to this notion, and it seemed to work very well.
So, here are several more photos that I took this morning, this next lot showing facial details of a sort I have never managed to get before, from these particular statues. These ones are close-ups of six of the statues that are at the west end of the square – Mandela (again), Disraeli, Gandhi, Fawcett (again), Lincoln, and Canning:
I forgot Peel and Derby, this morning. Or I think I did. I got in a bit of a muddle, forgetting that “Lord Beaconsfield” was really Disraeli. Maybe I have photos of Peel and Derby from earlier expeditions. If not, I might go back and do them too. Easy to do, what with all these Things being a walk away. (Photo rule: try to photo-obsess only about things within easy reach.)
Anyway, I’ll end this with three more photos I photoed this morning, two of them of one of my favourite statues in this square, Jan Smuts. I don’t know much about the man himself, but I really like this statue of him. I like that it’s green. And leaning forwards, like he’s skating:
I have photoed Smuts a lot, because he doesn’t always look like a mere silhouette in the afternoon. In these photos he has scaffolding behind him, and regulars here know how I feel about scaffolding. Also behind Smuts in the left hand photo of him there are the statues of Lloyd George and Churchill, which are properly photoed in the middle photo, again with scaffolding in the mix. Again, favourite subjects of mine, even though I don’t much like the statue of Lloyd George. To be exact, I don’t like his coat, which doesn’t look like a coat at all. More like metal. Which might be because it is metal.
I’ve not being doing much out-and-abouting lately. But yesterday the weather looked good and I managed a photo-expedition. My odyssey was a familiar one. I walked past the Channel 4 TV headquarters building to Victoria Street, checked out the progress of The Broadway. (That seems to e its name, by the way. It’s not One Broadwy or Ten Broadway, just The Broadway.) Then I walked down Victoria Street to Westminster Abbey and Parliament Square, and then across Westminster Bridge and along the South Bank, and then back across the River to Embankment Tube and home again.
But I knew there’d be new stuff to see, or maybe old stuff that I had seen many times before but not noticed. Stuff like … trees. Here are sixteen of the photos I photoed, involving trees:
Trees look as they do, especially when uninterrupted by leaves, not because trees naturally look like that, but because a not-that-small and very full-time army of tree barbers and tree surgeons (that being the word they prefer), caused them to be so. Every twist and turn of a branch is a decision made by someone wielding a chainsaw (this time click on “Gallery”) or commanding someone wielding a chainsaw. If trees ever do grow “naturally”, that too is a string of decisions that someone made and went on making. Every tree in London is a clutch of design decisions.
And as I say, no leaves. Which means that other things were to be seen also. The Broadway, the Wheel, the Crimea statue, stuff around Parliament Square (much of it smothered in scaffolding), the Wheel from closer up, Big Ben (smothered in scaffolding), the sign outside Foyles saying “FOYLES”, a big puddle, and so forth and so on. Lovely.