At a time when government seems to be relying more on old-fashioned philanthropy to keep services running, rather exert itself to help, I was intrigued to see this building in East London recently.
Passmore Edwards was a philanthropist of the 1890s and 1900s whose other endowments include the library that is now part of the Bush Theatre in West London. In the new century, he endowed this mock Tudor gatehouse to be a place of rest for international sailors staying in London on leave.
Poignantly the project, opened by the Kaiser and Edward VII, fell through when WW1 broke out. But the building remains, and more can be read about it here and here.
Beyond Belief is a BBC podcast and one of the best out there: a changing panel of experts debates for half an hour each week, intercut halfway through with “the view from the street”.
Thus a debate about whether you can enjoy CS Lewis without knowing the Christian and mythic subtexts to Narnia, and if he’d even get published nowadays (“I was asked to rewrite Pilgrim’s Progress without the Christianity, which I thought a bit much.”) was interspersed with a dad talking about writing a book to explain her Muslim heritage to her daughter. A panel talking about the symbolism of hair covered both young Sikh girls claiming the turban for themselves and an Afro-Carribean woman who took on dreadlocks and a whole lot of politics at once.
I’ve also listened to episodes on state-funded religion in Belgium, the effect of the Somme on religious belief and Magna Carta. Each debate is thoughtful, well-informed and intellectually provoking. In no way does it seek to convert or proselytize, but its discussion provides an intensely human experience, reminding us of the importance of having opinions and values, understanding where they came from and accepting others’ paths.
With hieroglyphs of bushes and trees /
they write and write, /
now pressing on their pens, now not /
Ah on wet paper /
with an invisible brush /
On the soft, rice-like air.
Olga Sedokova. Photos Prague, 2017.
At seemingly random points across the composition (but not at all random in reality) the page is studded with tiny squares of gold leaf. These are the stars in the constellation depicted. The text, which runs to several pages, explains that the stars rotate ceaselessly between the celestial poles, and that these are guarded by the bears of Crete, who had protected Jupiter as a baby from his cannibalistic father, Saturn, in return for which they had been set in the sky to mark the poles. They are known as Helice of the seven stars and Cynosura, who has never deceived Phoenician sailors guided by her. Between them…runs a giant snake, like a river, with stars along its body…These are the constellations which we still know as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, with the Plough.
Tantalising writing by Christopher de Hamel about the Leiden Aratea, here. Image from Medieval Fragments.
I really love the Kings Cross redevelopment, especially as I recently got to visit it on a sunny and warm spring day that really reminded me that the year had turned from winter now.
One part of it is the House of Illustration, which of course has a beautifully illustrated map on its website to help you find it, and also houses this iPad piece by Linda Kitson.
Another batch of photos from a lunchtime sprint in town. As some of you will have seen on my Instagram page, I passed this church and its garden a few week days ago, but there wasn’t time to go inside, and when I went back at a weekend it was closed.
Instead, I got inside on a day when I was so grumpy I’d taken myself for a long walk to recover from an adult-toddler tantrum. The space is light and airy, and the windows were glowing in the sunlight, a reward for taking time out to reset…
Christchurch, Southwark is the third church on this sute, the newest building being opened by Prince Philip in 1960, although the exterior is brown brick and could be any age between 1920 and the 1960s.
The windows are a mix of historical – showing the merchants of London – and modern. There’s a rather nice one of weary-looking typists in an office that seemed a good updating of the Mary and Martha model. Not a great photo, unfortunately; I was using an old iPhone and it made me realise just how much the camera improves with each model.
I think my favourite windows were these fairly low ones in the aisles of the church, commemorating local communities, and their struggles to be heard.
All in all, Christchurch, Southwark, is a mix of country parish and university society. Definitely a place I’ll be returning to.
Photos March 2017.
Continuing on my London trend today, I was delighted to recently come across the Bishopsgate Institute‘s walking tours.
I think I may have left it too late to book for some of these, but they cover the Jubilee and Metropolitan lines, the somewhat scary plazas and public art of Canary Wharf, the journey from artisans to artists (Kensington and Chelsea), London’s villages and many more routes.
In fact, their courses as a whole look good (who wouldn’t want an afternoon in Edwardian London) and on a par with my treasured CityLit.
If you want more of these, then Yannick Pucci’s Art Deco routes are always good, and this year’s London Handel Festival is also exploring the parts of London that Handel lived and worked in.
Photos: top 4 from a walk round Hampstead last year, image from the splendid V&A catalogue of Heather Firbank’s wardrobe, St James’s view from Georgian London.
A tale of two halves: encoding and aerodynamics.
Science Museum, January 2017. The second set of shots are from the incredible Zaha Hadid dedign for the new Winston Gallery of mathematics. The structure displays the flow of wind around a plane’s wings.