Today’s unconventional advent calendar is very unconventional indeed as it is long weekend of cumulative entries. I may well devise some bonus content later for those of you who might have missed the last two days of usually daily pics and musings.
I was taken by the art featured in the calendar as someone who endeavours to unite art and planning issues; often we find ourselves working with various people who have ideas for new uses for buildings where the previous use has for some reason ceased, and unfortunately there are a lot of examples of buildings which are at risk due to continual neglect and decay. From a cultural planning point of view these can also present themselves as opportunities as well as problems, there are many innovative examples of property re-use and reimagination. Our towns and cities are constantly changing, instability can mean an area reinvents itself in various ways. The Liverpool biennial is the largest contemporary arts festival in the UK (see website), and when I first visited in 2008 the city was the European capital of culture. Interestingly, Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores Universities devised a methodology for assessing the impact of cultural festivals (download here), covering cultural access, economy and tourism, cultural vibrance and sustainability, image and perceptions and governance and delivery.
Previous entries for the unconventional advent calendar can all be seen on the UWS Cultural Planning blog where a community of cultural planning practitioners doing the 2013 short course are recording and sharing their reflections and thoughts.
This is a short video on the recent art exhibition I had at Gladstone’s Land, Edinburgh. It was filmed by Bad Monkey Films, and shows the installation process, opening night event and a short introduction to the project featuring comments from some of the attendees.
I am currently showing my latest work at the Gladstone’s Land Gallery, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh (on the Royal Mile). The exhibition showcases some of the illustration work which I developed from my genealogical travels, and also a preview of my e-book which accompanies the exhibition.
Hope to see you here… do come along if you happen to be in Edinburgh!
So, this is what part of my studio looks like at the moment after two weeks of research away for my Are You Here Project. I thought I would share it for a bit of fun (I liked the way the printed out photographs all sat nicely together), and also ask how other people who do creative work get inspiration and plan out projects.
OK, so we’re all familiar with the normal architectural details which adorn our favourite buildings (if not in name then in form).. the classical capital orders of corinthian, ionic and doric.
What, then, is this?!?!
Lovely Brighton has an order of it’s very own, the ammonite capital. I absolutely LOVE these. My newly acquired Pevsner guide tells me these are a speciality of A H Wilds, who was involved in the architecture of much of Regency Brighton. Wow!
Yes, I discovered there are indeed two Brighton Pavilions.. only one is slightly less famous than the other.
This is the first one which many people know and love:
But wait, what is this, hiding behind Western Road?
It is the Western pavilion!
Home to A H Wilds, 1831!
I had heard about West Pier before (and indeed glimpsed it from afar on a previous visit to the city) but I went for a closer look yesterday and was deeply saddened to see its demise. Only the seagulls can view those iron beams and beautiful decorative elements properly now. I have created a slideshow of the images so you can see different views.
When my relatives were here it would have been a wonderful sight to behold, and also the “new pier” opened in 1899 (the one which now has the flashing Brighton pier sign on.. as this postcard from the Old Stratford Upon Avon Brighton section shows).
Today I went to three museums… the Architecture Centre (well, I would, wouldn’t I.. the planner and conservation-ist in me can’t help it!), Arnolfini and M-Shed. I also wandered along the river and took lots of photographs.
At The Architecture Centre they have an ever changing programme of events and exhibitions, sited in a harbourside building. The current exhibition focuses on what the future of the city could look like, and invites lots and lots of post it note contributions to add ideas to the city map. There are showcases of successful environmental schemes and projects, I was amused and intrigued to see “The Bristol pound”, first of all it looks really aesthetically pleasing, but secondly it is run on the basis of community good and helps support local businesses. Great idea! A small display on “Bristol Opening Doors” was really interesting as it invited people to contribute stories and “favourite buildings”, and also showcased a new app which is a walking trail (available on www.bristolopeningdoors.org ). I enjoyed the illustrations and design of this, and of course the wonderful buildings! I am starting to recognise more and more of the streetscape and landmarks here, and this will help discover more. Chatting briefly to the friendly staff there I also was given a flyer for a website called “Know Your Place: Learning and Sharing Information about Historic Bristol”, run by English Heritage and Bristol City Council. I am looking forward to exploring this properly, as yesterday (on my visit to the City Art Gallery and Museum) I was fascinated with the historic maps… this site lets you overlay and integrate different maps from various eras. Oooh! Just what I am after, as I can spot the places where my ancestors lived. Ideal for “Are You Here” research!
This was my first visit to Arnolfini, I have walked past it many times but always en route to somewhere else or whizzing past on my bike. I enjoyed the Susanne Kriemann’s Modelling (Construction School) exhibition, it brings a little of an “art- planning- environment” discussion into a contemporary art environment. The photographs of quarries were quite spectacular, many of the works are designed to provoke discussion on archives, and also problem solving in design education.
M-Shed could keep me amused for hours, it is full of all sorts of historical bits and pieces, I really did get lost in history. Interestingly for me, there was a whole section on Bristol people and families, saying “it’s important to know where you’ve come from so that you know where you’re going”… the question was posed “why did you leave?”.
In the case of my family I suspect it was for work as it would have to be a fairly major reason such as this to move to the opposite end of the country. There are themed galleries at M-Shed, Bristol people, Bristol life, Bristol places (and a special exhibition, currently on chocolate!), all of them have real objects to explore, some thought provoking interactive displays (I loved the one on “what makes a Bristolian”.. very funny mixtures of answers come out of that!), video and multimedia and also lots of transport to explore. No “please keep off” signs here. I am even starting to recognise the different Bristol districts, having passed through them by bike or bus at various points of my several visits over the years, it is nice to recognise things in a “technically not home” city! M-shed cafe is worth a visit, local produce, family friendly, vegan friendly and lovely views.
Oh, and did I mention the view from the roof terrace….
I absolutely love the view from the train on the way along the coast in the North East of England. Even on a stormy day (which it was), the view is wonderful (although taking photographs from a seat window is particularly challenging, so I hope the seat shadows and light will be excused, this is not meant to be a “quality photography” post, but an “ooh.. look at that!” post).
From Edinburgh Waverley station one gets a wonderful view of Calton Hill and Calton Gaol; enormous crenellated buildings on huge rocks loom which above the station and gradually give way to the townscape of the city (look out for the Meadowbank Stadium and its velodrome whilst heading out East). As you pass on towards Dunbar one sees the beautiful red pantile roofs and dark stone buildings (typical of the Lothian and Borders townscape). Dunbar station has a lovely mosaic stating the name of the station, made from pebbles which are painted white, just incase you don’t know where you are. I don’t know any other station which has an official railway typefaced sign directing you to a wishing well either!
Onward south, one is greeted with wonderful views of the coast, at times the track clings to the cliffs so one can get a peek into the secretive coves and bays of the borders with that distinctive red rock tinge.
When one reaches Berwick one passes through the site of Berwick Castle and crosses the great Royal Border Bridge designed by Robert Stephenson. You can see the “old bridge” (1611) and the “new bridge” (1928):
On a fine day, keep an eye out for the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and the very top of Warkworth Castle (it was too stormy on my visit, as you will see from this):
Onwards again, Alnmouth comes into view with its colourful houses facing out towards the railway and the view of the harbour sands.
In Newcastle you zoom past the Byker Wall and past the old castle, with fine views of the Sage and the Millennium Bridge.
Don’t forget to wave at Antony Gormley’s the Angel of the North!
To Durham… home of truly spectacular views, taking in a the cathedral and castle- it’s not every day you pass a World Heritage Site on your train journey (infact Edinburgh Old and New Towns to Durham Castle and Cathedral could be called the World Heritage route).