Friday, 19 July 2013

wheelbarrow walk - 1


this week’s theme is wheelbarrows (of course they’re rusty, this isn’t any old wheelbarrow blog, if you want one of those try )
the title for the week is a piece of music written by Michael Nyman, one of my favourite composers/musicians – listen to 'Wheelbarrow Walk' at
the music was composed for a film 'Drowning by Numbers' written and directed by Peter Greenaway (another one of my favourites) to get a taste of the beautiful, but also, at times, grotesque film go to
it has been described as a “surreal and iconoclastic black comedy" in which three generations of women who share the same name -- 63-year-old Cissie Colpitts (Joan Plowright), her daughter Cissie Colpitts II (Juliet Stevenson), and granddaughter Cissie Colpitts III (Joely Richardson) -- have all discovered the same way of dealing with their marital problems
the senior Cissie has drowned her husband Jake  in the bathtub, her daughter sent her spouse Hardy  to a watery grave in the ocean, and the youngest Cissie sent her husband Bellamy down in a swimming pool.
needless to say, the local coroner has some questions about this sudden rash of drownings among the Colpitts husbands, and again all three women respond in the same way: they promise to sleep with Henry in exchange for recording the deaths as accidental (though none of the Cissies make good on this promise).
when the local gossip mill begins working overtime about this sudden rash of water-related deaths, the coroner’s teenage son Smut comes to the aid of the Cissies and organizes a tug-of-war, with he and the Colpitts women on one side and the doubting townspeople on the other (and, of course, a river in the middle)
along the way, Greenaway often stops to contemplate his obsessions with literature, astronomy, and numbers (throughout the film there are the numbers 1 to 100 placed in ascending order on display in some peculiar position - a fascinating riddle)
the film has been described as “Agatha Christie on acid*


Thursday, 18 July 2013

London bridges across the river Thames: 7 Blackfriars bridge

Blackfriars bridge
The first fixed crossing at Blackfriars was a 995 feet (303 m) long toll bridge designed in an Italianate style by Robert Mylne and constructed with nine semi-elliptical arches of Portland stone, it was originally named "William Pitt bridge" as a dedication, but its informal name relating to the precinct within the City named after the Blackfriars priory, a Dominican house which once stood nearby, was generally adopted

although it was built of Portland stone the workmanship was very faulty and it was decided to build a new bridge on the same site,  the present bridge was opened by Queen Victoria in 1869
the bridge became internationally notorious in June 1982, when the body of Roberto Calvi, a former chairman of Italy's largest private bank, was found hanging from one of its arches with five bricks and around $14,000 in three different currencies in his pockets
the bridge is featured in the lyrics of the songs "Cold Bread" by Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit ( ) and "The Resurrectionist" by the Pet Shop Boys  ( ) the bridge is mentioned in Harold Pinter's play “The Homecoming” when the character Max suggests that his brother, Sam, would have sex for a few pennies here
 in Terry Gilliam's “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”  Heath Ledger's character Tony is found hanging under the Blackfriars Bridge, described by Terry Gilliam as "an homage to Roberto Calvi

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

London bridges across the river Thames: 6 Blackfriars railway bridge


Blackfriars railway bridge
there have been two structures with the name: the first bridge was opened in 1864 and was designed by Joseph Cubitt for the London, Chatham and Dover railway. massive abutments at each end carried the railway's insignia, preserved and restored on the south side
following the formation of the Southern Railway in 1924, inter-city and continental services were concentrated on Waterloo, and St Paul's station became a local and suburban stop and the use of the original bridge gradually declined
it eventually became too weak to support modern trains, and was  removed in 1985 – all that remains is a series of columns crossing the Thames and the southern abutment

the second bridge, built slightly further downstream (to the east), was originally called St Paul's railway bridge and opened in 1886, it was designed by John Wolfe-Barry and Henry Marc Brunel and is made of wrought iron, when St Paul's railway station changed its name to Blackfriars in 1937 the bridge changed its name as well

as part of the Thameslink programme, the platforms at Blackfriars station have been be extended across the Thames and partially supported by the 1864 bridge piers, work on the bridge also includes the installation of a roof covered with photovoltiac solar panels
the renovations are nearing completion and i had to search very hard to find that one speck of rust!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

London bridges across the river Thames: 5 Millennium bridge

Millennium bridge
Millennium bridge, officially known as the London Millennium footbridge, is a steel suspension bridge for pedestrians, linking Bankside with the City of London

construction of the bridge began in 1998, with the opening on 10 June 2000 and was immediately nicknamed the "wobbly bridge" after participants in a charity walk on behalf of Save the Children to open the bridge felt an unexpected and, for some, uncomfortable swaying motion
after two days of limited access the bridge was closed for almost two years while modifications were made to eliminate the wobble entirely, it was reopened in 2002.
the bridge's movements were caused by a 'positive feedback' phenomenon, known as synchronous lateral excitation, the natural sway motion of people walking caused small sideways oscillations in the bridge, which in turn caused people on the bridge to sway in step, increasing the amplitude of the bridge oscillations and continually reinforcing the effect

an artistic expression of the higher-frequency resonances within the cables of the bridge were explored by Bill Fontana's 'harmonic bridge' exhibition at Tate Modern in mid-2006 which used acoustic transducers placed at strategic locations on the cabling of the Millennium bridge and the signals from those transducers were amplified and dynamically distributed throughout the turbine hall of the Tate (

Monday, 15 July 2013

London bridges across the river Thames: 4 Southwark bridge

Southwark bridge

Southwark bridge is an arch bridge for traffic linking Southwark and the City of London, it was designed by Ernest George and Basil Mott and built by Sir William Arrol & Co. and opened in 1921
A previous bridge on the site, designed by John Rennie opened in 1819, and was originally known as queen street bridge, it was known as the "iron bridge in comparison to London bridge the "stone bridge"
Southwark bridge is mentioned in the work of Charles Dickens, for example in ‘Little Dorrit’ and ‘Our Mutual Friend

rust purists should stop reading now

last evening i went to the final concert of 'Kew the music' ( a week-long series of concerts at Kew gardens) which featured Karine Polwart, Billy Bragg (sporting a full beard and as ideological as ever he started his set with this: ) topping the bill was Bellowhead who must be one of the best live bands around at the moment, a truly exhilarating set of songs (see for a look at their Glastobury concert in 2011, i think they were better last night, although many of the songs were the same)

Sunday, 14 July 2013

London bridges across the river Thames: 3 Cannon street railway bridge

Cannon street railway bridge

Cannon street railway bridge  carries trains over the river to Cannon street station on the north bank 
it was originally named Alexandra bridge after Alexandra of Denmark who was the wife of the future King Edward VII
the bridge was designed by John Hawkshaw and John Wolfe-Barry for the South Eastern Railway, it was opened in 1866 after three years of construction - in its original form, it carried the railway over the Thames on five spans standing on cast-iron Doric pillars but was subsequently widened between 1886–93 by Francis Brady and extensively renovated between 1979–82, which resulted in many of its ornamental features being removed and the structure taking on an even more utilitarian appearance than before

Saturday, 13 July 2013

London bridges across the river Thames: 2 London bridge

London bridge

historically, several London Bridges have spanned the river Thames between the City of London and Southwark, the current crossing, which opened to traffic in 1973, is a box girder bridge built from concrete and steel, this replaced a 19th-century stone-arched bridge, which in turn superseded a 600-year-old medieval structure which was preceded by a succession of timber bridges, the first built by the Roman founders of London

 the current bridge stands at the western end of the Pool of London but is positioned 30 metres upstream from previous alignments - the traditional ends of the medieval bridge were marked by St Magnus-the-Martyr on the northern bank and Southwark Cathedral on the southern shore

Friday, 12 July 2013

London bridges across the river Thames: 1 Tower bridge

Tower bridge reflected in the glass of city hall

Tower Bridge (built 1886–1894) is a combined bascule and suspension bridge

it is close to the Tower of London, from which it takes its name and has become an iconic symbol of London
although the bridge is an undoubted landmark, professional commentators in the early 20th century were critical of its aesthetics ‘it represents the vice of tawdriness and pretentiousness, and of falsification of the actual facts of the structure’, wrote H. H. Statham  while Frank Brangwyn stated that ‘a more absurd structure than the Tower Bridge was never thrown across a strategic river’ in 1909 the Times was particularly scathing, saying that ‘it looks like a monstrous Gothic toy that ought to be one of the side-shows of an exhibition', and George Bernard Shaw commented in 1924 that 'engineering bridges are offensive only when they are artistically pretentious, like the Tower Bridge' as late as 1952 Nikolaus Pevsner, the architectural historian, referred to the ‘barren Gothic towers’ and says of the bridge that ‘the massive structure does much damage to the skyline’
architectural historian Dan Cruickshank selected the bridge as one of his four choices for the 2002 BBC television documentary series Britain's Best Buildings – the idiot prince who is so keen on pastiche probably thinks it’s beautiful
the bridge's present colour scheme dates from 1977, when it was painted red, white and blue for the queen Elizabeth 2’s silver jubilee, originally it was painted a mid greenish-blue colour

Thursday, 11 July 2013

sculpture: part of 'gismo' (1960) By Jean Tinguely (1925-1991) in the Stedelijk museum, Amsterdam

not actually a rusty bicycle but it looks as though Jean Tinguely may have used numerous parts from them

Jean Tinguely was a Swiss artist who began experimenting with mechanical sculptures in the late 1930s, hanging objects from the ceiling and using a motor to make them rotate. after world war 2 he began painting in a Surrealist manner, but he soon abandoned painting to concentrate on sculpture. he is best known for his sculptural machines or kinetic art, in the Dada tradition; known officially as metamechanics. in 1970, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the founding of Nouveau Réalisme, he built a gigantic phallus (ht 8 m), which he exploded outside Milan cathedral. he also built a self-destroying sculpture titled Homage to New York (1960), which only partially self-destructed at the museum of modern art in New York City, although his later work, Study for an End of the World No. 2 (1962), detonated successfully in front of an audience gathered in the desert outside Las Vegas 
Tinguely married fellow Swiss artist Eva Aeppli in 1951. in 1971, Tinguely married his second wife Niki de Saint Phalle

the whole 'gismo' sculpture

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Amsterdam bicycles 10: lock/chain

in an attempt to differentiate their bicycles from all the others some cyclists decorate their bikes...
what a strange -looking cat

Friday, 5 July 2013

Amsterdam bicycles 8: seat tube

in order to combat rust someone has come up with the idea of a wooden bicycle...

note the coffee carriers

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Amsterdam bicycles 7: chain guard

someone has come up with the bright idea of combining Amsterdam’s love of the bicycle with its worldwide reputation as a Sodom and Gomorrah...

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Amsterdam bicyles 5: chain

in an attempt to differentiate their bicycles from all the others some cyclists decorate their bikes...and go overboard...

Monday, 1 July 2013

Amsterdam bicycles 4: bell

in an attempt to differentiate their bicycles from all the others some cyclists decorate their bikes...