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Mansion House Gent's Toilets
'Time Here Becomes Space, Space Here Becomes Time' by Cerith Wyn Evans, Leadenhall Market

My only real problem with Open House is that it has become a victim of its own success. There are so many great places to visit but for any number of them, if you want to visit them, then you've got to keep your day free because you will be spending it all queueing to get in. And because so many of the places have Open House events staffed by volunteers access can be quite limited beyond issues like queueing. The City of London section of the Open House guide is notorious for the number of places that are only open on the Saturday. My way, impossible though it would be, would be to have Open House Week, to give us proper access, even though a large number of these buildings aren't public. This time I was lucky to get tickets for the Mansion House. We were told we couldn't take photos, this lasted until the majority of us realised the few that were ignoring this ban weren't being punished in any way. After that, we were all at it. The previous week I had got a list of all the churches that were taking part in Open House. I spent the rest of the day walking round the City of London visiting various of these and comparing and contrasting their different approaches to worship, from the incense heavy Saint Magnus the Martyr to the more modern Dutch church, from the welcoming Saint Lawrence Jewry to the hard sell of Saint Helen Bishopsgate where a tomb inside the church had been repurposed as a book stall selling books about how evolution was wrong.

Walking around the city for Open House drew my attention to Sculpture in the City 2014, a thing of which I was not previously aware, to put artwork where busy financial people could lounge against it chain-smoking their way through their lunch breaks. They were close together so not difficult to find, although one piece had been removed and another piece was a large box which was supposed to have a band inside playing though sadly although the artworks were in place for several months the band only performed short gigs on a couple of dates which had already passed by the time I found out about them. I always find it odd walking round the financial districts during weekdays as though I'm trespassing somewhere I have no right to be. I certainly find it unpleasant to do since the smoking ban came into force, it seems as though there are more people outside smoking and I find myself hurrying past the doorways of buildings where sad men and women stand and shiver and smoke.


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June 2015

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