blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
Okay, truth be told I don't dislike Steampunk. I quite like the aesthetic but maybe inside the subculture it's not the fetishism of fashion in order to justify ignoring British colonialism of the 18th and 19th century. Maybe that's just how it looks from the outside. When I expressed this view to a friend of mine yesterday whilst at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, an indignant lady dressed all in black with requisite top hat felt it necessary to interject into the conversation that she didn't feel Steampunk was anything like that and that she spoke as a colonial. She had an Australian accent. She was white.

Gown by Karen 'Lady Elsie' Grover, 'Longitude Punk'd', Royal Observatory Greenwich Celatone by Matthew Dockrey, 'Longitude Punk'd', Royal Observatory Greenwich Tancre's Observation Device and Calculator by John 'Major Tinker' Naylor, 'Longitude Punk'd', Royal Observatory Greenwich Orrery Gown by Jema 'Emilly Ladybird' Hewitt, 'Longitude Punk'd', Royal Observatory Greenwich Clockwork Chelengk by Jema 'Emilly Ladybird' Hewitt, 'Longitude Punk'd', Royal Observatory Greenwich

So I went to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich yesterday. I seem to remember that I went there once before, but I can't remember exactly when it was or why. This time it was mainly to see a new exhibition called Longitude Punked. The minimal information on the website says it
"celebrates the creations of wacky inventors, stargazing scientists and extremely elegant explorers of the 18th century. Royal Museums Greenwich has commissioned 8 UK Steampunk artists to create works inspired by the technical inventions that were presented to the board of longitude between 1714 and 1828."
This seemed fun and interesting and so I made my way there. Because I have no memory of visiting the part of the Observatory that had this display I don't know what it's usually like. What it looked like was that normally there would be a display of things to do with navigation at sea. It would be informative and, to the best of anyone's knowledge, accurate. What it was now was half a display of things to do with navigation at sea that was deliberately captioned with humorous and entirely inaccurate signs provided by Robert Rankin. I have nothing against Rankin, I quite like his books even though they all have basically the one plot which never manages to last the entirety of the story. But I think it's sad that, in what they feel is an important anniversary year, the Observatory have basically said "we're not going to bother with any of that boring" < airquotes >"history" < airquotes > "malarkey, no we're going a hundred percent fictional! And we're going to do it with steampunk! Because that's what all the cool kids are into these days, what with their i-telephones and their addiction to snuff." So from a design point of view this exhibition was lovely, I'm just not sure why they did it this way. I don't think the Natural History Museum would replace its animatronic dinosaurs with My Little Ponys with new horns designed by China Mieville. I'm uneasy about a science institution inventing history, after all, when Ken Ham does this we rip the piss. It's not that they put up false information, it's that they appear to have taken the correct information down as well.

The clothes on display are fantastic and I wish I had both the gowns and the figure to show them off to their best. The inventions are chrome and metal which seems to be what something has to be made out of to be Steampunk so... well done? The exhibition is at least free once you have paid to get in and the Observatory is a nice small venue to visit if you're in the area.

But to finish with just a quick rant about the place. )
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
'Model' by Antony Gormley, White Cube Bermondsey

Seriously. What was wrong with me taking this picture? This being 'Model', the largest piece of work at the White Cube Bermondsey which currently has a show of sculptures by Antony Gormley. As the White Cube favour a rather minimalist approach to showing it will probably be enjoyed by Gormley fans and/or those that are unsure. What I don't understand is why photography isn't allowed, both here and at other art galleries. Does excessive flash photography bleach steel? Is there a concern that through photography the soul of an artwork is lost?

I wouldn't mind so much if the galleries weren't such hypocrites over the whole issue. They are quite happy to let the press take photos of course. They don't stop people taking photos of the Gormley piece outside in their courtyard but I stood and watched as someone who had taken photographs came inside, walked up to the first piece they saw, raised their camera and were told they weren't allowed to take photos. Why?

The funniest time I remember was years ago when I was told by a guard at Tate Britain that I couldn't take photographs of a piece of sculpture, the piece in question being a painstaking recreation of the anti-Government display by the peace campaigner Brian Haw, who was at that time camped about a quarter mile along the road.

I can see how there is an issue that excessive flash photography may bleach old paintings but we live in a world now where we don't have to use our flashes for every photograph we take indoors, indeed the flash on my camera doesn't seem to be a very good one so frequently photos in poor light manage to come out better than those with the flash.

As it was, I was disappointed by 'Model', it wasn't interesting to the touch, like a Richard Serra or Anthony Caro. Clambering about inside it was also rather dull, there was the brief excitement of whether your head might meet an excitingly sharp corner and start bleeding, but other than a few little cubbyholes to crawl around in it was a bit meh. The rest of the models, all variations on figures standing, sitting or lying down and doing yoga poses, were a lot more interesting, right up to the one item which was a copy of another, simply inverted in the vertical.
'Model' by Antony Gormley, White Cube Bermondsey
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012 Designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei

It has been open less than twenty-four hours and someone had already thrown some money in the fountain. A ten pence piece. An austerity offering. Maybe it was Jeremy Hunt, dashing out from behind one of the many trees to make a desperate wish to keep his job.

Despite being drawn back here every year I've tended not to be impressed by the Pavilions the Serpentine Gallery displays by it's side for the Summer months, they've tended towards the anonymous and blocklike (last year) or the self-conscious and wacky (2006's offering), the kipper tie as architectural statement.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012 Designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei
But I have to say I did like this year's offering. Partially submerged but supported by a cushion of guff from the Gallery and the architects wittering on about 'excavating the previous galleries that stood there' like the worst episode of Time Team ever it's an art pillbox, waiting malevolently for those approaching from all directions. "Aah, Emin and Hirst! For you ze art war iz ovah!"

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012 Designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei
With my usual talent for going on a day when it was overcast and cool there was no way to judge how it will deal with the heat (the Sun is obviously a Republican, it's currently due to rain on Sunday) but there are a variety of different places for people to perch including some little toadstools that felt like they might be cork. If someone doesn't post pictures using them for a game of skittles before the end of the summer than I will have obviously overestimated the skill of Londoners.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012 Designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei
Herzog and de Meuron I don't know from a different hole in the ground but Ai Weiwei is everyone's favourite Chinese import at the moment despite his less than impressive Tate Modern installation from 2010 where everyone carefully ignored how the millions of seeds were manufactured in conditions that looked not only suspiciously sweatshoppy but also that might cause any number of respiratory conditions in his workers from all the dust that it was judged Tate visitors mustn't inhale. He wasn't let out of the country to attend the opening apparently. No doubt the central committee took one look at the price list at the Pavilion Cafe Booth and were too busy laughing at the imminent collapse of Western Capitalism to sign the form to let him leave.
blahflowers: (Queenie)
Following on from yesterday the Halcyon Gallery have confirmed that two 'public' sculptures are on private property and us great unwashed masses have to put up with it.

As we mention on our sculpture trail site both Volare and Finding Love are situated in private residences but as I’m sure you experienced are easily viewed and admired from the railings close by.

Volare is best admired from one point of one side of the park where you can get a decent view and is best admired if you have a decent zoom function. Finding Love can be admired from a sharp angle or over a hedge, again with a zoom.

I am wondering whether there is any point in replying to their message or speaking to someone at the gallery. I don't think they are up-front about the placement of these two items on their website. Have a look for me. They say Volare is in a private garden so I suppose you might realise from that that that means you can't get close to it, but I can't find anything about Finding Love being in a private residence. Indeed, if either are the case they shouldn't be directing the public to go and look at them.
blahflowers: (Default)
'Finding Love' by Lorenzo Quinn, One Knightsbridge Place
I've emailed the Halcyon Gallery, the people behind the Halcyon Gallery Sculpture Trail. The website says they have arranged the public placement of four Lorenzo Quinn sculptures around London but 'Finding Love', above, is on the forecourt of One Knightsbridge Place and I was told I was not allowed to approach it and was restricted to taking pictures from outside the restricted area. 'Volare' is in the middle of Cadogan Gardens, maybe it's just closed on Sunday, but it looks awfully like this is a private garden that only people living in the immediate area have a key to. I've asked Halcyon Gallery about what access the public actually have to these two sculptures as I don't think they count as 'public'.
'Jelly Baby Family' by Mauro Perucchetti, Marble Arch


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