Thursday, October 23, 2014

The sculpture that lured me to Covent Garden, live music, and my lunch. England Scotland Heritage Tour, 2014


Here it is, y'all. The sculpture installation I learned about in an e-mail the day before leaving Portland for the tour! So excited to get to see this in person! And to know what it was, because I heard a woman with a British accent, her voice rising in alarm, say to the man with her as they stood staring at it: What is that? Destruction!  From The Independent Web site: British artist Alex Chinneck has undertaken a mammoth new artwork in Covent Garden, London, collaborating with builders, engineers, robots and more to make it look like the Market Building in the piazza is drifting up into the sky.


The effect, which can be seen not just from a specific angle but all sides, was achieved using digital carving and four-tonne counterweights.

Entitled 'Take my lightning but don't steal my thunder', the sculpture mimics the Market Building behind it, its broken columns making it look as though the 184-year-old building is levitating in mid-air.

Over 100 people worked on the artwork, including structural engineers, carpenters, carvers, set builders, scenery painters, water jet cutters and a robot, with 14 tonnes of steel being used and a tonne of paint.

"Architecture is a brilliant canvas for creative exploration and distortion because it surrounds and contains us," Chinneck commented.

If you've spotted any other mind-bending, large-scale architectural illusions around London, chances are they are also his work.

Chinneck previously erected a "sliding house" in Margate and an upside down building in Southwark.

His next project is a full-size house made from 7500 wax bricks that will melt over 30 days.

Of the Covent Garden installation's title he said: "The thunder and lightning comes from the two separated sections of the building - they are forever together but always apart.

"I also liked how the silhouette of the cracked architecture shared the aesthetic of a lightning bolt. the narrative of the installation has a cataclysmic feel and thunder and lightning typically accompany such a theatrical scenario.

"I incorporated the saying ‘steal my thunder’ as I like to include common expressions in my titles to lend them a pleasing familiarity.

"The hovering section suggests as though it is floating away but the dense stone base feels extremely grounded, hence the request take one but leave the other."

The artwork will be in the East Piazza until 24 October.


Part of the scene inside the Market Building at Covent Garden. I promise, the woman in the lower right corner of the photo who appears to be singing along with the string quartet in the parallel corner is not, I repeat, not singing--she's yawning.


Here's a close-up of the musicians, known as Classycool. I bought their CD, The String Quartet Evolved.


Enticing words, savoury crepes, however you spell savory. We sat outside while I ate my lunch. Juliet decided to find her lunch elsewhere, a bit later on.


My savoury crepe, the Italian Job, after I cut it open to reveal goat’s cheese, fresh pesto, sunblushed tomatoes, rocket. Rocket? The greens, also known as arugula. Perfectly textured crepe, fabulously fresh ingredients inside it. Every single bite, satisfying as to bring a smile to my face. I knew once I had finished it that I'd be fine until dinner later that evening. Just fine for my soon-to-start walk from Covent Garden to the Royal Courts of Justice, too.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

You go up the escalator, you go down the escalator. A multi-story escalator. In between, you catch some rays at Green Park. England Scotland Heritage Tour, 2014

I live with a fear of heights and motion sickness, plus a pair of 66-year-old knees. Guess where I went once I'd taken this photo, motion-sickness-acupressure-bracelets on each wrist? To the right to hold on for dear life so that this blessed escalator could take me up to street level. Our goal, to spend a few minutes in Green Park.

You see, when I got my first paying job after high school I bought a book with my first paycheck, a lovely, over-sized book filled with memorable photographs of London taken in the late 1960s. I lost that book somewhere, but I've always remembered a particular photo of Green Park. My photo is not a match for that one--it was in the trees, dappled sun and shadow. Mine, flooded with sunshine, shows you the Park Deckchairs, something I could have gotten in and out of back in the late 1960s.

There goes Juliet on the right, circling Diana of the Treetops, the combination sculpture and water fountain for people and dogs which was moved just outside the new Underground entrance in 2011. Originally installed elsewhere in Green Park in 1954 and sculpted by Estcourt James--Jim--Clack in 1951 after he won the competition to create a fountain  for the park, the gilding was added prior to the move to this location. The sculpture was commissioned by the Constance Fund, set up by Constance, widow of sculptor Sigismund C. H. Goetze. In his memory she wanted to "encourage and promote the art of sculpture in London parks."


We didn't take time to walk out into the park since I was on a tight schedule--my solicitor friend Richard Taylor had invited me to be his guest at the Quit Rents Ceremony and I needed to meet him at 2:30 p.m. in front of the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand which is within walking distance of our destination, Covent Garden. Now for the scariest part of the ride on London's world-famous Underground--the down escalator. Once again, I held on and concentrated on realizing that I would stay upright and make it to the bottom so we could jump on a train and make our way to Covent Garden.