C.A. Mathew returns

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This March and April Londoners will get another chance to view the compelling street photography of C.A. Mathew. This series of black and white images, which capture the people and streets of 1912 Spitalfields, are unique and unmissable. Revealing the daily life of an area rarely depicted in photographs of the time, this new exhibition features the first chance to see all 21 photographs – including some original prints – on display.

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The story behind the photographs is a fascinating one in itself: C.A. Mathew was actually based in Essex and is thought to have taken these photos while travelling to nearby Liverpool Street Station one fateful Saturday morning in April 1912 (April 20th, to be precise). These are the only surviving body of work by Mathew, who started out in photography just a year before these images were taken, and it is not known for what purpose he chose this subject. Thankfully for us he did – as they have now become the primary visual record of early 20th century Spitalfields.

The sheer number of people out and about on the streets – and the relative youth of many – is fascinating, as is the comparison of the streets and buildings themselves then and now. And with the works on display at Eleven Spitalfields Gallery in Princelet Street, you won’t need to go far to draw such comparisons…

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The images will be on display at Eleven Spitalfields Gallery from 7th March to 25th April 2014; on weekends 10am-6pm and by appointment during the week.

The collection of C.A. Mathew’s work is now housed at Bishopsgate Institute, which is also running a series of events – entitled East End in Focus – in conjunction with the exhibition.

On the same day this blog post was published, Spitalfields Life published this lovely piece by Vicky Stewart, which unravels some of C.A. Mathew’s life story.

All images are ©Bishopsgate Institute.

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Summer Pavilion

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One of my favourite annual London events is the emergence of a brand new Summer Pavilion each year in the grounds of Kensington Garden’s Serpentine Gallery. Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto provides the 13th iteration of this project, with his cloud-like grid of white steel poles arising from the green grass. But this a cloud you can sit in, with transparent steps creating seats and producing an interactive feel to his installation  – and also making visitors appear as if they are suspended in space.

IMG_2891Fujimoto has spoken of how his installation contrasts the natural environment of the park with a ‘constructed geometry’ – and there is a decidedly digital look to the grids of which it is composed.

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This is the fourth Summer Pavilion that I have visited and photographed – to celebrate, this post will also look back briefly to the last three designs in this unique series.

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The 2010 Summer Pavilion by French architect Jean Nouvel (shown above and in the following two images) holds a special place in my heart given that it is pictured across the top of The Londonphile’s website. Yes, that green and red image I use everywhere was taken looking through the bright red, transparent walls of the pavilion through to the gallery beyond. Like this year’s version, Nouvel’s design included a cafe inside the pavilion itself.

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The black, almost forbidding exterior of the 2011 pavilion (shown in the three images below) – designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor – belied the fact that it contained a very pretty surprise on the inside, in the form of a fully planted garden. The garden was surrounded by seats, so visitors could soak up the tranquility.

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The 2012 design (pictured in the following three images) also boasted some pretty unique qualities. Ai Wei Wei designed the pavilion in conjunction with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron via Skype whilst under house arrest in China. The design itself referenced all the previous pavilions by integrating their outlines and contours into the design of the floorplan, which was clad in cork. It also featured a rather lovely floating platform roof built across the structure.

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To return to the present day, the 2013 Summer Pavilion by Sou Fujimoto is open until 20th October. It can be found in the grounds of the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens, and is free to visit.

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Orleans House Gallery

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If you’ve ever thought about visiting Twickenham’s Orleans House Gallery, now is a great time to go while it is hosting Arcadian Vistas: Richmond’s Landscape Gardens. Given that the English landscape garden movement was first nurtured here along the banks of the Thames, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting locale for this exhibition.

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Neatly divided into sections focusing on some of the more influential gardens, gardeners and garden designers of the movement – including Alexander Pope, Horace Walpole, William Kent, Kew Gardens and Chiswick House – the exhibition features mostly illustrations and paintings from the Richmond Borough Art Collections, nicely supplemented by some loans. A smaller collection of objects is also on show, including John Serles’ guide to Alexander Pope’s garden and grotto, alongside A Description of the Villa of Horace Walpole (describing nearby Strawberry Hill).

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Two large paintings depicting Arcadian Thames – Leonard Knyff’s A View of Hampton Court and Peter Tilleman’s The Thames at Twickenham – are also highlights. Don’t miss the gallery upstairs, where slightly more esoteric topics – follies, Chinoiserie, orangeries, water features and grottos – are featured, accompanied by some lovely examples of blue and white porcelain.

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Sadly, Orleans House’s beautiful Octagon Room, a few adjoining buildings and the Stable block out the back are all that remains of what was once an extensive estate built in the early eighteenth century for James Johnston, Secretary of State for Scotland. The Octagon Room was actually a later addition, designed by James Gibbs (who also designed St Martin-in-the-Fields church) as a separate garden entertainment space for Johnston. The house acquired its name after it was rented to Louis Philippe, Duc d’Orleans, during his exile from France.

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After passing through a number of hands, the main house was finally demolished in the 1920s by a firm of gravel merchants. They failed to find any gravel on the site. Today, Orleans House Gallery and its Octagon Room are worth a visit – their interesting program of exhibitions is free and open to the public on most afternoons except Mondays (check online here, as times vary throughout the year). Marble Hill House and Grotto are just next door, and Ham House is but a scenic ferry ride across the Thames.

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Horrorgami

Marc Hagan-Guirey’s Horrorgami certainly seems to be the flavour of the moment with London’s art lovers – if the numbers visiting last Sunday were anything to go by. Hagan-Guirey’s own specialist blend of the Japanese art of kirigami (think origami with scissors) with the horror films that were so influential on him as a child – resulting in ‘horrorgami’ – has also generated a unique exhibition featuring intricate paper models of iconic buildings from the genre.

London-based Hagan-Guirey’s first foray into horrorgami occurred when he built a model of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House as a thank-you gift for a friend who organised a visit to the innovative, concrete Californian house. Ennis House was also the setting for House on Haunted Hill – and when the next model he produced was the Addams Family Mansion, Hagan-Guirey realised he had something of a theme going.

Each of the 13 models in the exhibition are created from a single sheet of white paper. The gallery has presented these in two upstairs rooms, curtained off to create darkness. The works are placed in light boxes, with different colours backlighting the models to great effect. The devil is very much in the detail here – both the intricate nature of the works and the subtle features like the pram placed outside the Dakota Building in the Rosemary’s Baby model, and the figure peering eerily out from a window in the Psycho house. The reflections produced along the base of many of the light boxes are also particularly striking.

Horrorgami is free and on now until Wednesday 14th November at Gallery One and a Half, Ardleigh Street, N1 4HS. Monday-Friday 10-5, Sat-Sun 11-4. The closest station is Dalston Junction.

http://www.one-and-a-half.com/index.php?/upcoming/marc-hagan-guirey—horrorgami/

The models pictured here are (from top): Rosemary’s Baby/The Dakota Building, The Addams Family/The Addams Mansion, Psycho/The Bates Residence (detail), Ghostbusters/The Fire Station, The Amityville Horror/112 Ocean Avenue, House on Haunted Hill/Ennis House, Rosemary’s Baby/The Dakota Building (detail).

Out of Sync, Somerset House

Given that for much of winter Somerset House’s courtyard is covered in an ice skating rink, it seems only appropriate that this spring it’s full of flowers. 10,000 of them in fact – made of clay – have colonised the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court, replacing the fountains and forming sculptor Fernando Casasempere’s latest installation Out of Sync.

Casasempere, who was born in Santaigo and studied both ceramics and sculpture in Barcelona, has called London home since 1997. He works with clay left over from industrial processes and was so fond of his own special mixtures that he brought twelve tonnes of them with him when he moved to the UK. The confection of hand-painted pink and white blooms creates an unexpectedly pretty garden among the stately buildings, while both the flowers and buildings provide a striking contrast to the fresh green turf that has been laid out across the courtyard for the installation.

The piece is meant to celebrate the start of spring and the feelings of happiness associated with this change in season, but despite getting off to an excellent start it would seem that it is the weather itself that is now a little out of sync. However as the installation will be up until the 27th of April it has until then to get back on message.

http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/out-of-sync

http://www.fernandocasasempere.com/index.html

Chihuly at Halcyon Gallery

Looking for some colour to brighten up these grey winter days?  Then head to the Halcyon Gallery’s brand new flagship site at 144-146 New Bond Street for the Chihuly exhibition. Dale Chihuly – a master American glass sculptor – is possibly best known in London today as the creator of the spectacular chandelier in the foyer of the Victoria and Albert Museum. His 2005 exhibition Gardens of Glass: Chihuly at Kew was one of the Londonphile’s all-time favourite London events.

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Chihuly’s pioneering work with colour and technique really does need to be seen first-hand to be fully appreciated – even the best photos cannot do it justice. The highlight of the Halcyon show is the 24-feet long Mille Fiori garden installation upstairs, which was built specifically for the space. You can also see several of the aforementioned chandeliers and some of Chihuly’s trademark Macchia (plant-like giant bowls) and Seaforms (shell-like creations) on show. As always with Chihuly’s work, the clever use of light and display really sets off the pieces.

This exhibition – which coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the International Studio Glass movement – is a selling one in a pretty ritzy commercial gallery, but don’t let that put you off as everyone is made welcome here. It has now been extended again until 21 April 2012 so you have even more time in which to get yourself there; entry is free.

http://www.halcyongallery.com/exhibitions/chihuly

Tacita Dean at Tate Modern

Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall makes a natural cinema – which is fitting as it is currently the venue for Tacita Dean’s latest filmic output. FILM is a 35mm, 11 minute silent film set on a constant loop. It contains a startling montage of colour, black and white and hand-tinted analogue film, complete with sprocket holes along the vertical edges. Dean has rotated the normal anamorphic lens by 90 degrees to create an unusual vertical format. All of this is projected onto a white monolith which references the one seen in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Although British-born Dean is best known for her work in film – particularly 16mm film – she originally trained as a painter and has also worked in photography, sound, book art and drawing. She has become an ardent supporter of analogue film, whose very existence is being threatened by the digital format. Earlier this year she was instrumental in putting together an online petition aimed at keeping London’s Soho Film Lab’s 16mm print service (the only one in the UK at the time). Despite garnering 5,489 signatories the new owners discontinued the service.

FILM can be found in the Turbine Hall until 11 March and is free, so there’s no reason not to drop by. You might even find yourself being entertained by children using it as one giant silhouette screen – including climbing up the escalator projected in one of the scenes. And while you’re there you can take in Gerhard Richter’s excellent paying exhibition upstairs until 8 January if you have the cash.

http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/exhibitions/unilever2011/default.shtm