Wandered down London’s South Molton Street (next to Bond Street tube) recently to see the fantastically coloured benches I’d heard about, and indeed they are fun, multi-coloured and assorted strange shapes. Sadly, being early January, the sun never made it above the rooftops so not many people lingered, but they are a great idea. All the work of designer Camille Walala and installed last year; ten benches of different shapes along with planters. Have to come back in the summer!
But a secret doorway anyway – in this brilliantly colourful artwork round the back of Kings Cross, by the amazing gasholders. It’s called 700 Reflectors, and when you get up close, that’s exactly what it turns out to be (I didn’t count them….). Seen on my way from Kent to Hull taking pics of more co-ops.
To London again this week for the British Library and yet more issues of Co-operative News, an invaluable source both for shop openings and general discussions – about advertising for instance – in the co-op movement. For a bit of light relief I went along to the Bow Road in Poplar, to photograph a 1919 Stratford Co-operative and Industrial Society store; it still functions as a supermarket, although not a co-op. It has a rather splendid beehive on its pediment, so well detailed that the individual bees and the hive’s structure are clearly visible. It’s near the Bow Church DLR station (and not far from Bow Road tube). If you happen to visit, don’t miss the former Poplar Town Hall (1937-8) just across the road, a smashing modernist building with sculptures in socialist realist style of various building labourers, and also mosaics above the councillors’ entrance. But you must cross the road to see the best bit, as there is a lovely mosaic design of the Thames and docklands beneath the entrance canopy, presumably to inspire the members as they looked up when entering the building!
Briefly in Edinburgh this week, I enjoyed tea and cake at the café in the City Art Centre, with its lively mural (1980) by William Crosbie (1915-99). The design is perfect for its setting, and Crosbie himself supervised the mural’s restoration in the late 1990s. Sadly, as you can see from the photo, the mural is now in rather a sorry state, with parts blistering and paint coming off. It is certainly a difficult environment for a mural, with lots of steam and similar tea-making activities taking place. Let’s hope it can be re-restored and last for at least another couple of decades.
Postwar public art was all over the papers and TV today as 41 artworks have just been listed by Historic England. To coincide with that, the Introductions to Heritage Assets: Public Art 1945-95 has just been published, see IHA Public Art 1945-95 to download and enjoy some lovely pictures (and hopefully read my text!) The pics today are Antony Gormley’s Quantum Cloud, near the O2 in London; look at it from the right angle and you see the human shape in the middle.
Happy New Year to all! Must be better than this wet Boxing Day evening in Newcastle upon Tyne. Lots to look forward to, starting with Historic England’s Out There postwar public art exhibition at London’s Somerset House, opening 3rd February 2016. With that in mind, I collected lots of my public art photos together and put them in an album, link online at There’s a lot of it about. No time to add captions – the industrial architecture book proofs have arrived – so really this is a public art quiz book, name the artworks! (It’s free to look at so no need to buy it…..)