Category Archives: Cityscape

View of Excel Conference Centre from over the Thames on the Emirates Cable Car

©Robert Greshoff

View from Thames Emirates Cable car crossing

On a recent trip to Excel, the huge exhibition centre to the East of London, I decided to travel via the (Emirates) Cable Car which runs from Greenwich North straight to Excel.  (For those who don’t live locally but who may find yourselves in need to visiting Excel I recommend this way of getting there!)

The last time I did the trip, the sky was full of those characteristic cloud and sunshine combinations that make the weather here so great (and so difficult) for photography.  Just as I passed the mid point across the Thames and was approaching the north bank, the sun broke through and illuminated the structural spars of the exhibition centre.

To me, the picture has a lovely calm despite the dramatic atmosphere.

Balconies of Quimper, Brittany, France

It’s been a while since I last posted mainly because of work and holidays getting in the way and being distracted by my Drascombe Lugger restoration project.

But I did spot these fine wrought iron balconies in Quimper,  – a city that reminded me a lot of Canterbury in a French kind of way.

BalCompLR

 

The Skinners, a City of London Livery Company

I often find myself in one or other of the various Livery Halls dotted around the City of London (Not as a guest but rather pursuing my own trade for which there is no company!).  Last week I was doing a regular annual shoot for the Architects Benevolent Society who hold their event in a different Hall each year.  This year it was the Skinners and it was one Hall I had not visited before.

For those who may not be familiar with the traditions of this land, the Livery Companies all go back a very long way, (in the case o the Skinners, they were awarded their charter by Edward the Third in 1327) and they are essentially trade associations that exist to protect and promote their particular trade.  There are 108 of them (I have only visited a small handful) and many of them are rather wealthy institutions.  Originally they had strong links to the church but nowadays these links are rather know tenuous but many still do a great deal of charitable work.  The Skinners is a case in point.  In fact the Skinners as a trade ceased to exist a couple of hundred years ago but the company is still doing very well and currently supports four schools in Kent and London, runs Sheltered Housing accommodations and make generous grants to other charities.  And then of course they have their fine building, right next door to Cannon Street station and within spitting distance to the Thames river.

An interesting aside is that in 1484 the Skinners and Merchant Taylors had a argument about who whose barge go in front during the Mayor of London river procession.  In the end the Mayor himself had to intervene and decreed that henceforth each company would take turns to be in front and when the fixed order was finally arranged they alternated between positions six and seven.  This probably gave rise to the phrase “to be at sixes and sevens”

I had a few minutes to kill last week so I made use of my time by looking at things that interested me.  (This is not meant to be a comprehensive study of the hall!)  In particular I really liked the huge chest with it’s impressively ornate locking mechanism in the lid, which was accidently closed and it took all the skills of the locksmith to get it open again and only once he had been given a photograph of the workings!  Otherwise they are all quite self-explanatory.

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More Art Deco Architecture and more Wallis, Gilbert and Partners – The Daimler Garage in Bloomsbury, London

You may think that I have a bit of a thing about Art Deco architecture – in fact I don’t but having shown the Hoover Building here recently I could not help noticing the Daimler Garage on my travels in London.  This is not quite as spectacular a project as Hoover but it is clearly from the same stable despite it’s tucked away location. It predates Hoover by one whole year (!) so certainly springs from the same creative impulse that was driving WG&P at the time.

There is not that much information about the building itself but it was built for the Daimler Hire Company to accommodate their fleet of chauffeur driven hire limousines for the rich, the idea being that you hired that car and driver together for three months at a time thereby by eliminating the hassle of having to buy the car and employing a driver. It was also a “try before you buy” scheme in as much as you got a refund if you decided to go the whole hog and buy a car.  If you have money to burn, I guess it makes sense.

The building itself is home to the McCann advertising agency and there is very little to indicate how exactly the building functioned as it is all now offices where as presumably at least some of the floors would have been garage space.

Anyway here are a few shots of it. (I didn’t do many as I was running late for my meeting and it was a very dull day!)…

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Tube

Had a busy week last week and made use of the abundant sunshine if not warmth that we enjoyed.  Since then the heavens have clouded over again.

Still, had a great short shoot this morning followed by a quick trip into London to get dull stuff done (not all dull, also met up with a client!). I happened past some rather nice Art Deco architecture that I’ll show on another day (to continue the Hoover them) and I also did some shots whilst traipsing through the underground tunnels, trying to find a visual feel for what moles (and those Londoners who travel by tube!) must feel like much the time…

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Escalators

   It’s been a busy week or so with great weather which is great for work but less so for doing other stuff. Yesterday, was typical I started to the West of London, then went to Teddington  in West London, then Wimbledon (SW London), the Sydenham (SE London), then Greenwich (SE) and then back home.  Which adds up to a lot of driving and quite a bit of shooting in between, but not much else.  Still, I did find myself in a DIY superstore with some impressive escalators so given the dearth of time I shot those for fun, before moving on to my next location.

Escalator, London, Escalator, London, Escalator, London, Escalator, London,

Comic Con Experience at Excel, London May 2013

Yesterday we spent the day drinking coffee at London’s huge Excel convention centre, whilst our son availed himself of the multiplicity of pleasures to be fond within the 6 monthly Comic Con.  We are obviously not the target audience but it was nevertheless an illuminating experience and one that left us surprisingly animated (sic) and with much greater insight into the world of comic fantasy.

To start at the beginning, the queue to buy tickets which was without doubt the longest queue I have ever endured filling up an entire exhibition hall, with a long line of people snaking back a forth over the entire floor area.  It occurred to us that this could only happen in Britain, a nation reknowned for it’s fondness for queuing, anywhere else there would have been a riot.  Still, after nearly three hours of orderly shuffling we were the proud owners of a ticket and the (by now exhausted) teenager found renewed energy and launched off into the mayhem that was the actual exhibiton hall.  We, on the other hand made for the nearest purveyor of fine coffee, grabbed a table and glued ourselves to the seats, to enjoy the wonderful pageant of weird and wonderful creatures that streamed past us in all directions.

For those who are not familiar with this event, it is a huge gathering of people who all have one thing in common: Comic and comic fantasy.  They are mostly but by no means exclusively young and are all equally enthusiastic for their chosen genre be it Manga, Anime, Sesame Street, Marvel etc etc.  The event itself is actually a kind of trade fair but in reality and like so many cultural events the real activity is outside the hall on the fringes.  It was a glorious day so the garden outside was thronging with oddly dressed people and the music (Death Metal when we arrived and some kind of Deadpool rap as we left) was loud

It was interesting to watch these people stride by and even more interesting to try and understand the driving forces behind such groupthink.  On one level one can understand that this was a very safe environment to be in, where everybody will accept you no matter how outlandish you look.  On another level, participants also had an instant connection and bond with others and together this reminded me of what going to church may have been like a few decades ago!  Certainly everybody was evidently looking for something bigger than themselves and for a sense of community and belonging.

From a photography point of view I found it interesting too because whereas  in my normal work life I am constantly aware of privacy and not shooting people who might not want to be in shot etc,  here photography and being photographed is really part of the game and to not take pictures would have been somewhat odd.

So from my position glued to the chair outside Costas, I snapped a few of the passersbys, there wasn’t much light and the coffee certainly affected my hand-holding ability but here are some of the people who walked past my field of vision yesterday.  A great day was had by all!

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Postmans Park, City of London – A kind of heart-rending 19C twitter feed in ceramics

On my way through the city last week, I had an hour or so “spare” after shooting a bunch of bankers so decided to revisit Postmans Park, just around the corner from St Pauls.

I was commissioned to photograph this wonderful space last year but at the time was too busy photographing the park itself to concentrate on the other significant feature of the space, namely the George Watts memorial wall.  I have now rectifed that omission!

By way of a very brief overview, the park is the biggest within the City of London walls and was once the city burial ground.  (Because space was at such a premium they laid the corpses down and covered them with earth rather than actually burying them which is the reason why the park is at a higher level than the surrounding area)  It narrowly escaped being sold for development in the early 1890’s and it was rescued in part by a substantial donation from Octavia Hill (later to become the founder of the National Trust).  It was at around this time that George Watts, the celebrated painter and sculptor, along with his second wife Mary Fraser Tytler proposed to create a space to celebrate and remember the bravery of ordinary people.  His original grand ideas were quashed the the great and the good of the city and the project had to be scaled down in size, ending up as a single wall of three rows of tiles with a tiled roof.  He was still able to use his connections in the art world to help in his endeavor.  In particular he sought the support of the renowned (at the time) ceramicist William de Morgan who designed and produced the first batch of tiles.

Unfortunately Watts himself was too infirm to attend the opening ceremony and indeed he died a year later and never saw the fruition of his work.  Mary carried the torch forward though and even though plagued by problems with suppliers (what’s new there then!) installed a total,of 54 tablets before she ran our of money in 1910.  A 55th tablet was added in 2009 commemorating Leigh Pitt who died rescuing a 9 year-old boy from drowning in Thamesmead canal.

All in all they make for a very poignant read and in their brevity they really are a kind of twitter in ceramics.

I recommend a visit if you fancy some downtime when next in the city.  If you can’t make it, you can always watch Jude Law in “Closer” in which the park was used as the opening and closing sequences and is pretty central to the plot as far as I recall.

The first image was commissioned and you can see the covered wall in sunlight ahead of the camera position. The others were shot last week.

(You can read a more in-depth description HERE:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postman%27s_Park)

122190 Postmans Park, London EC1

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Kings Cross Station, Dome Roof, London (MacAslan, Vinci & Arups)

Kings Cross, John MacAslan, Arup, London

I took a train to Nottingham last week and had a few minutes in the station waiting for it to come in.  Having just had it’s first birthday the John MacAslan structure is looking good and well worth a few pics while waiting.

It was built by the French company Vinci and was engineered by Arups.

Here is a time-lapse of the construction courtesy of The Telegraph:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/9142586/Timelapse-building-new-Kings-Cross-station-dome.html

Ashford M20 cycle & Footbridge – Nicoll Russell Architects with Jacobs

I took some time out after a shopping trip to Sainsbury’s in Ashford recently and strolled over the (now not-so) new foot bridge that joins the Eureka and Warren Business parks together.  Great for getting to the cinema!

It was conceived by a practice based in far away Dundee:  Nicoll Russell Architects and according to their website it is designed to create a kind of memorable gateway to Ashford. Jacobs did the engineering and overall I think it is a success despite gaining early and unfortunate local notoriety as as suicide point  – not something you can lay at the door of the designers who have certainly created a visually striking structure.

Ashford M20 Foot Cycle Bridge, Nicoll Russell Architects, Jacobs Engineering Ashford M20 Foot Cycle Bridge, Nicoll Russell Architects, Jacobs Engineering Ashford M20 Foot Cycle Bridge, Nicoll Russell Architects, Jacobs Engineering Ashford M20 Foot Cycle Bridge, Nicoll Russell Architects, Jacobs Engineering