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London Trip

Unfortunately the Click & Create design conference was postponed, but I made the trip to London anyway as I was unable to reschedule my train journey. I decided to take my camera for a walk around London, visit a photography exhibition at the Tate Modern, and catch up with old friends.

Arriving on the overnight sleeper I reached London before sunrise. It was an eerie experience walking through twilight London with almost deserted streets. My plan for the day was to head to the South Bank – an area I’d never explored before – and visit the Tate Modern. Afterwards I planned to meet up with an old school friend for lunch, and then have a wander around central London.

British Museum, London

British Museum, London

The early morning light gave the old buildings of London an eerie glow. I don’t think my photograph of the British Museum gave the scene justice, as the light gave the building a weird ethereal aspect.

Reaching the South Bank via Westminster Bridge I stopped for a while to take some photographs of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Unfortunately the morning light wasn’t strong enough to capture the shadows that have earned Westminster Bridge the nickname ‘Penis Bridge‘.

Westminster Bridge, London

The South Bank along the Thames is home to many galleries and locations related to the creative arts, including the British Film Institute, the South Bank Centre, the Tate Modern and the Design Museum.

The area is also home to some interesting architecture and new developments, for example the OXO building and the modern arts & crafts shops of Gabriel’s Wharf.

Helicopter at Marigold Alley

It was at this point in my travels that a huge Merlin helicopter flew over and buzzed around St Paul’s Cathedral and the River Thames. It flew around for some time, and I can only guess that it was involved in some surveillance of the Occupy London Stock Exchange protest camp that has been in situ at the Cathedral for about a week.

Heading for the Tate Modern I was surprised to bump into Janet McCauslin, Assistant Principal at Carnegie College who had been visiting the House of Lords with college chancellor Lord Sandy Leitch. She was out for a morning constitutional before heading home from London later that morning.

Tate Modern

Tate Modern

At the Tate Modern I visited the photography exhibition New Documentary Forms, which presented the work of five contemporary photographers. I was particularly impressed by Luc Delahaye’s war photography that depicted war zones in epic, large format panoramas – far removed from the more typical ‘up close and personal’ style more associated with the documenting of conflict.

Although I didn’t intend to stay long at the Tate Modern, I was drawn into a number of the other exhibition rooms by the partial views of several famous images. The layout has been cleverly constructed so that it affords glimpses of famous artworks from the escalator stairwell. Seeing these glimpses made me divert into each of the galleries and take a closer look. First I was drawn to Matisse’ Snail, which I was surprised to find was a massive wall-sized piece. It was interesting to see it up close and see the brush marks and the watermarks in the paper. Around the same gallery were a number of Cubist pieces including the work of Picasso and Braque. Again, it was interesting to see these close-up and see the textures in the artwork that cannot be conveyed through photographs.

The next artwork that drew me in was Roy Lichtenstein’s pop art cartoon, Whaam! This gallery also contained some interesting abstract expressionist pieces including Jackson Pollock’s Summertime: Number 9A.

Ravensbourne College

Ravensbourne College

After visiting Tate Modern I took a trip along to Greenwich to see Ravensbourne design college and its interesting new building.

Situated next door to the O2 arena, Ravensbourne is one of London’s premier design colleges, with notable alumni including Stella McCartney, Bruce Oldfield and David Bowie.

The new college’s focus is on design and digital media, but it was the building design I was interested in – the outward facade is reminiscent of Moorish mosaics and the building has circular windows and a modern metallic interior that sets it aside from most other colleges I’ve visited. It certainly seems like an inspiring place to learn, helped in no small part by its location on the Greenwich peninsula.

At lunchtime I headed into the city centre to meet with my old school pal, Mike. We hadn’t seen each other for nearly 12 years, so we compressed that time into an hour-long lunch in a tiny Korean restaurant that was like something out of Bladerunner. Mike is an architect and has suffered a recent redundancy, but has managed to find another job in the last few weeks at another architect practice which is working on the redesign of an exclusive boutique shopping mall in Chelsea.

Occupy London Stock Exchange

OccupyLSX

Mike’s recent redundancy was a timely reminder of the economic crisis brought upon by the careless banking community, so I took the opportunity to visit the Occupy London Stock Exchange camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral. The camp was much bigger than I expected and there was a jovial mood, quite unlike the tension that had been portrayed by the media earlier in the week. There were several protesters giving interviews to the press and there was also a discussion circle debating ways of bringing about real and systemic change to capitalist economics. During my visit some more military helicopters circled overhead, suggesting that there may be trouble expected, however the impression I got from the camp was of quiet, dignified and determined protest.

After visiting the protest camp I had a little time left in London to sight-see before heading off to stay the night with friends. Please take a look through my photograph album…

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Categories: Conference, CPD, Photography
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