Friday, 30 January 2015

A Year in Pictures – 29 January 2015 – The Joy of Commuting (2)

Striding purposefully, City workers take the travelator from the Waterloo & City Line platforms up towards the booking halls and the exits at Bank.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A Year in Pictures – 27 January 2015 – Another Monstrous Carbuncle (5)

Here we are again on Eastcheap, this time on the south side of the street, looking north to show just how boorishly 20 Fenchurch Street, aka "The Walkie-Talkie", dominates the more modest buildings around it. The chief fault of its design is that it offends the normal expectation that a building will not be larger at the top than it is at its base. I hear wonderful things about the spectacular views over London to be had from the garden terraces and restaurants that have been laid out at the summit, but these treats exact a terrible cost from the London skyline considered as a whole.

It is of course frightfully clever to maximise space at the top of a building, as the best views bring in the highest rents but, again, this has been achieved by a structure that, when it is seen in its entirety, seems to have very few supporters.

In the foreground is the church of St Margaret Pattens, whose foundation in all likelihood goes back to the 11th century. The present building, which replaced earlier structures destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, was constructed in 1687 and has the only spire designed by Christopher Wren in a mediaeval style. The church has long been associated with The Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers, pattens being wooden-soled overshoes, later soled with iron rings to elevate their wearers above the muck and grime of the streets of several centuries ago. The church has a small but interesting display of these items.

HEALTH WARNING: Though it seemed a good idea at the time, I made the mistake of using a polarising filter on my cameral when taking today's photograph. This has had a strange, blunting, effect on the light and colour in the image. Also the camera I use for most of these daily images is a small item, with a fixed zoom lens that is not very forgiving at wide angles, resulting in a curved "barrel distortion" of the roofline of the buildings in the foreground. We live and learn...

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A Year in Pictures – 26 January 2015 – Gryphon

The gryphon is a mythical beast whose origins lie in the ancient Near East, perhaps over 5,000 years ago. It combines the body, hind legs and tail of a lion with the head, breast and wings of an eagle. At some point in history it acquired pointed ears that seem to be all its own, but could be considered catlike. Among other things, it came, in heraldry, to symbolise courage and boldness.

This example is one of two that perch atop pillars on either side of the gate to Dunster Court on Mincing Lane in the City of London and are "supporters" of the arms of the Worshipful Company of Clothworkers, one of "the Great Twelve" livery companies. I walk through the gate nearly every working day and I love the sight of these fantastical beasts.

Monday, 26 January 2015

A Year in Pictures – 25 January 2015 – Grotesque

Grotesques are figures carved to embellish buildings and are typical of Gothic styles of architecture. Like rain-spouts, they often jut straight out from buildings at a high level—on towers, say, or the edges of roofs—but they are, like this one, purely decorative. It is when they also incorporate a channel or pipe to convey rainwater away from a building that they are properly called "gargoyles".

Though only dating from the 1870s and the period of the Gothic Revival in English architecture, the grotesque pictured is heavily weathered by the forces of nature and atmospheric pollution and had to be brought down to earth from the church tower from one of whose corners it projected, before it came down under what was left of its own weight. When the church tower is repaired and restored, its three fellows will also be removed and all four grotesques will be replaced with newly carved versions.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

A Year in Pictures – 24 January 2015 – The Shadows Fall

The south-east window of St Paul's Church Hounslow West at lunchtime today. During a short break in the course my wife and are taking, I grabbed a moment to get this shot. The bitter cold also encouraged speed!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

A Year in Pictures – 23 January 2015 – Calypso in the Square

I spent the afternoon at a meeting with the Heritage Lottery Fund in Holbein Place, just off Sloane Square. Both are places named after famous former inhabitants of London: the great 16th-century artist Hans Holbein and the distinguished physician, Sir Hans Sloane, who in 1703 conducted the autopsy of that incomparable chronicler of 17th-century life, Samuel Pepys and himself lived on until 1753, his 93rd year.

On returning to the square after the meeting to get on the District Line back to Richmond, I came across the subject of today's photo. Partly because it was extremely cold and I cannot operate my camera easily without gloves and also because I did not want to keep my travelling companion waiting, the shot was hastily taken and my camera was not on the ideal settings. I have done a bit of a rescue job on the resulting image, but the musician's face is not in focus (I took several shots; this one is the best).

He was happy to be photographed and the lively rhythm of his playing brought the sun out. Good on him.