Blog of the week

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I was searching for something else which will feature on the blog soon when I came across the blog Ornamental Passions, dedicated to noticing all those small details on buildings’ windowframes and doormantels, carved plaques and now-baffling statues that London teems with. To my delight, one of the first posts I read shed light on this statue that I often pass in Lincolns Inn Fields.

Aratea

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.

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Tantalising writing by Christopher de Hamel about the Leiden Aratea, here. Image from Medieval Fragments.

St Paul’s

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Probably my favourite building in all of London. I love it in every weather: on a cold winter day with blue skies and big clouds

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on a grey morning where it blends in with the Victorian and 1950s offices on Ludgate Hill

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or on an unexpectedly golden afternoon.

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All photos December 2016.

Hoxton

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Herb garden of the Geffrye Museum, December 2016. I always love the bare branches and bright skies of midwinter, and the cold air that makes the river glisten and all the colours stand out.

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Kingsland Road, December 2016.