25 November 2013

Finding Dr Who in London!

Saturday's 50th anniversary Dr Who show was brilliant, very confusing but brilliant! As a self confessed David Tennant fan it was great to see him back as the Doctor in a programme that gave us all the Doctors, including the one yet to come as we saw the eyes of Peter Capaldi. 

London has loads of Doctor Who references but 2 things you can go and are the Tardis in Earl's Court and the magnificent shop in West Ham. Here's what you'll find.....

As you come out of Earl's Court underground station you'll do a double take as there it  is, a Tardis, just sitting there. I looked around for quite a while but couldn't find the Doctor or any aliens but I'm sure they were around somewhere!

London is, of course, full of places that have appeared in Dr Who, not least Trafalgar Square where the Tardis was dropped into during the anniversary special with Matt Smith dangling off it. He really was hanging off it according to an interview I saw so no special effects there.  Big Ben was famously crashed into, the Thames Barrier was flooded when a giant spider alien was holed up inside and Buckingham Palace nearly destroyed by a flying Titanic!

If you want to get your hands on some memorabilia and your very own key to the Tardis, head out to West Ham where the Dr Who shop will satisfy your every need.  Your approach is via a long road,  the West Ham football ground, another long road, the monument to Bobby Moore and finally the shop appears disguised as an ordinary row of shops. But stepping inside you find a treasure trove of Dr Who stuff to buy and a secret museum. 

Arriving at the Dr Who shop

It's absolutely full of stuff to buy

I was visiting the shop back in August when we were waiting for the identity of the next Doctor to be announced so I had a good chat with the shop owner about it and he was right, it was to be Peter Capaldi - inside knowledge perhaps? 

For the very reasonable fee of £3 you are given your own key to the Tardis which is the entrance to the museum and getting that all important photo is free! 

Inside the Tardis is a museum which is much bigger than you would imagine from the outside! Inside it is jam packed full of genuine Dr Who monsters and outfits which have appeared in the shows themselves and often crop up at various fan events around the world and Comiccon.

Fortunately no human inside the cyberman

K-9 and a dalek plunger


Old style dalek with a different top

Matt Smith's jacket with sonic screwdriver in the pocket

Me and my scary new friend!

And finally, of course, I couldn't resist including a photo of my with my favourite, the 10th Doctor (and so much more), David Tennant! We were at Comic Relief at BBC Television centre last March.

It's time to move on from Doctor Who so keep an eye open for my next blog about the Turner and Nelson exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Bye for now

18 November 2013

It's beginning to look a bit like Christmas in London!

London always looks beautiful at Christmas time as the shops, large and small, and the famous streets, like Regent Street and Oxford Street,  put a huge effort into their lights and window displays.  Most of them are up and twinkling now so I thought I'd give you a tour around London by night to enjoy these festive sights.   

There has been a big debate about whether it's too early to turn on the lights and does the build up to Christmas last too long but I'm swerving that and am determined to just enjoy them!

Harrods' fine building is outlined in lights all year round but the addition of the trees makes it look even more festive. 

 Another place that uses the same lights each year is South Molton Street but they are so  beautiful and striking that I hope they never feel the need to change them!

South Molton Street

Love the red London phonebox framed by the lights

Oxford Street's lights are much better this year as they are less branded and more subtle, although quite hard to photograph!

Oxford Street from Marble Arch
Selfridge's is one of London's most famous department stores and its Christmas windows are keenly anticipated. This year is not a vintage one as my award (so far) goes to John Lewis - see below - but the amazing biscuit display is fun. 

Made from biscuits!

Biscuits and golden syrup (on the right)

Gorgeous biscuits
Making a statement!

Non biscuit window!

Love penguins

A good way to sell headphones
 Onto my winner of best window - so far - John Lewis on Oxford Street. They have shown amazing invention and wit by using household items to make creatures from penguins, to deer through owls and hares made from vacuum cleaners, luggage, washing up brushes and more.  Take a look:

Twinkling outside

Turkeys made from towels

Gorgeous luggage bear

Not sure what but very jolly!

Flying hare

Amazing what you can do with hair equipment!

More penguins...

Fluffy brushes

Vacuum cleaner deer
 And finally for now - Regent Street - who are also staying with last year's very successful look incorporating the 12 days of Christmas:

Lights filling the whole length of Regent Street

'5 goooold rings'
Watch out for part 2 of London's Christmas lights very soon.....

Bye for now,

3 November 2013

Two great exhibitions in one with thanks to our Queen Elizabeth!

There is a gallery at Buckingham Palace called, unsurprisingly, the Queen's Gallery, which I've visited several times and have seen some excellent exhibitions including Scott and Shackleton in 2011. This year they have excelled themselves by putting on 2 shows at the same time and I was lucky enough to be invited to the preview. 

The posters are intriguing and when I delved into the early publicity I was hooked - how was the gallery going to make sense for us of a 17th century little know Italian artist and 100 plus brand new works from the Royal Academy? As the curator, Martin Clayton, said: "On the surface these two exhibitions might seem very different but they are surprisingly complementary. Both show the work of artists who have pushed the boundaries".

The Castiglione show is title 'Lost Genius' because his work has been out of the public gaze for so long and also because his tempestuous life lost him success and recognition during his lifetime. His paintings are wonderful and, as we learned, he painted with oils directly on to paper and you can see how the oils have bled through to the reverse. He was the first artist to use monotype as a method, so called because only one print is made from each engraving (except for rare circumstances)

This poster greets you with the self portrait faintly printed
Self portrait print

The main exhibition room
How the work displayed

Sacred and Profane Love  Mid 1630s

The Crossing of the Red Sea mid to late 1630s
The front of one painting

The reverse of the same painting

Omnia vanitas Early to mid 1650s

Castiglione was born in 1609 in Genoa, a cosmopolitan city that probably made him open to a wider world and new possibilities. He began in the pastoral tradition using oil on paper but moved onto Rome and looked to reinvent himself, examining other artists' work and incorporating their techniques, finding he was most keen on Poussin. 

Back in Genoa he was poised to be a truly great artist through his painting and print- making but his temper got the better of him (as had happened previously in his career) and he had to flee his home town in disguise!

He found stability back in Rome, continued his work and introduced some colour into his paintings, as we see in the later part of the exhibition, but he died at 55 years of age.  His work was appreciated after his death but by the 19th century his popularity had waned and his work has been little seen on this country until this new show at the Queen's Gallery. The Queen has a major collection of his work, normally held in Windsor Castle.

An unusual 2nd print from a monotype  Mid 1650s

Later painting when Castliglione introduced some colour

 Quite overwhelmed by part one of the exhibition we then moved onto Gifted, which gave us a wonderful tour around the work of many of the best artists in this country. The Royal Academy has a long tradition of giving gifts to the monarch since they were founded in 1768.  For the Diamond Jubilee the Royal Academy of Arts asked each of its academicians to send in one piece of their work on paper and over one hundred pieces were submitted.  Seven red silk covered boxes of the finest contemporary British graphic art arrived and the staff had the privilege of opening them, not knowing what would be inside. 

I was bowled over by the Queen's Gallery's first contemporary exhibition where one great piece was hung next to another and another - luckily the curator's job was not to select but to display them all to their best advantage.  It was a dazzling who's who from so many familiar names doing what they do so well but also a chance to see work on paper from artists more well know for other media. 

The silk covered boxes

Anish Kapoor in 2 D!

Sir Anthony Caro away from his sculptures

Lord Foster - a School for Sierra Leone

Grayson Perry

Anthony Gormley

Tracey Emin

Professor Richard Wilson having a bit of fun!

Professor Michael Sandle

Professor Chris Orr - View from Cleopatra's Needle

Professor Maurice Cockrill
Turning back as we left I spotted the very inviting, and rather over the top, entrance closed until the grand opening the following day.  Both exhibitions are well worth a visit so do put them on your list - and there's a great shop for Christmas presents on the way out!

Let's see what next week has in store....

Bye for now.