Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rehearsal of the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic games

I was lucky that Ruth won a couple of tickets to the rehearsal of the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic games last Monday. We were all asked to keep it a surprise and I was pleased to see that most people had kept the details secret. I hadn't taken my camera with me, but used Ruth's camera phone and managed to get a few images. The wildflower meadow in front of the stadium was lovely in the sunshine.

I was really pleased that I had experienced the ceremony live when I watched it again on TV. The experience of being there was much more viceral, the sheer volume of the music and drumming and the effects of light and smoke were intense. Though on TV we saw more of the action from the other side of the stadium and the more personal touches that Danny Boyle had set up for viewers. We also hadn't seen every section of the ceremony at the rehearsal, including the athletes parade and lighting the cauldron of course.

We were only 19 rows back from the front and near one of the main entrances for the performers, so saw lots of the changes and change overs with performers and props, which added to the excitement.
The plumes of fire that accompanied Prodigy's Firestarter song also felt pretty hot from our seats, so I don't know how hot they were to the front row!

 At the rehearsal I was really hoping that Danny Boyle would pull off something amazing, but not really knowing if he could. My fears were allieviated from the start with seeing the tree and mound representing Glastonbury Tor and when the teams came in carrying different sized clouds and walked around the stadium, just surreal.

The change over form rural Britain to the Industrial Revolution was incredible, I was impressed by the fact the physical movement of the change over was made into an unmissable spectacle. The stadium was cleared of the rural props, including the cottages  in almost choreographic movement and the tall smoking chimneys rose up accompanied by hundreds of drummers beating a pulse of dynamic energy.

We could see the forging of the Olympic rings clearer on the TV, but the glowing rings and shower of sparks raining down in the rehearsal was brilliant, literally in lighting terms. The suffragettes and Jarrow march came down the road near our position and the Windrush came out of the entrance near to us too.

On TV you could see the business men measuring up the green and pleasant land and see the pleasure on their faces as the chimneys, mines and weaving looms were working. Great acting by everyone too, who all were taking their roles with the right degree of irony and seriousness. In the rehearsal you had the overall spectacle of the change which was pretty dramatic and riveting.

When the huge beds came out, I was really surprised and pleased, the NHS being celebrated as one of the powerful shaping forces of the nation at a time when it has never felt so under threat.  Real nurses danced with the volunteers and lots of children bouncing on the beds. I wasn't sure what the rest of the world would make of it.

When the nightmares began I was holding my breath, the giant Voldermort complete with lit up eyes and wand showering sparks was a great addition, the black covered figures twisting on the aerial wires and the horse headed, literal night mares all dancing around made a great spectacle.The lighting on each seat was set as scarey eyes which was great. When the dozens of Mary Poppins figures descended with their lit up umbrellas we were all laughing and shouting encouragement.

There were so many references from British culture I'm sure people could spend quite a few hours teasing them all out. We only had the helicopter hovering overhead in the rehearsal, and hoped James Bond would decend on the opening night. So It was a shame when he didn't, but I loved the piece with the Queen. We also didn't see the Mr Bean piece, which really made me laugh. I was thinking that at least Mr Bean would translate across continents.

The last section we saw at the rehearsal was all the dance and film pieces, how many songs were in there? I couldn't keep up with them all, the energy and enthusiasm of the thousands of performers was palpable. At the end I was left profoundly happy that Danny Boyle had found so many aspects to being British  and presented them to us with the importance that they deserve, and doing that with our humour and eccentricity too.

Opening of Survival of the Fittest exhibition

Visitors looking at Valerie Grove's Team MSK installation.

Katja Rosenberg who curated the exhibition,Valerie Grove and visitors to the exhibition.

Last weekend saw the opening of Survival of the Fittest, the exhibition I am part of, at the Waterworks Nature Reserve. Link to the exhibition at Art Catcher here It was great to see so many turn up and the weather was fine. The space we are in has been turned into a dining area for the campsite set up for the Olympic Games, but it still works well.

It does mean you can make a day out looking at the exhibition, visiting the nature reserve and getting a meal from the cafe.  We also have catalogues, cards and prints for sale in the shop too. Details of the Waterworks here The exhibition runs from   20 July – 1 October 2012
Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, weekends 8am-7pm

Visitors to the exhibition add to Fabienne Monnot's Knitted piece entitled Tricot 2012.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Hampton Court Flower Show

Celebration and Jubilation garden.
The weather held on Saturday for the Hampton Court Flower Show, I walked with my sister this year through the Hampton Court entrance and gardens, which was a lovely way in. The old palace could be seen with the rose garden in front, the roses blooming in profusion.

The clipped yew trees set the formal view lining the walkway to the entrance of the palace nearest the Flower Show.

There were as usual some very lovely gardens, all the more remarkable given how bad this years weather has been. Following on from the last couple of years there seemed to be a trend of naturalistic gardening, informal planting, lots of grasses mixed with flowers and subtle colour schemes. The stronger summer colours of reds and oranges were noticeable when spotted. There were also a lot of gardens with more challenging themes or inspirations, like the Japanese Tsunami, dyslexia, crime and sexual violence.

Interestingly I found myself with a trolley full of purple flowering plants, I hadn't really noticed they were purple until my sister pointed it out. I was looking for butterfly and bee friendly and slug resistant as the key qualities in my choices!
The This is me garden caught my eye, with it's theme of dyslexia,
This is Me Garden

  • Designed by James Callicott
  • Built by Simon Flory (Flory Works) with Gordon Speakman
Link to RHS site info here

The Japanese Reconstruction Garden.

The Japanese gardens are always lovely, this year the Japanese Reconstruction Garden had the tsunami as it's theme. The turbulence of the tsunami itself and the help with reconstruction after.
  • Designed by Makiko Sato
  • Built by Masato Ito, Eiichi Aoki, Makoto Kikitsu, Ray Williamson

Link to more info here
The Japanese Reconstruction Garden.

The Las Mariposas, Hopes of a Nicaraguan Girl, garden had a bright pink building filled with tropical butterflies.
  • Designed by Robert Kennett
  • Built by Greenhaven Landscape.
  • Link to more info here
la Mariposas Hopes of a Nicaraguan Girl.     
 It was supporting Amnesty International's campaign of Butterflies for Hope, for the woman of Nicaragua, who suffer high levels of sexual violence.

In the Corner of the World Garden Tall tubes of bubbling water were planted in the garden giving a sense of playfulness. An old hollow oak tree in the back of the garden gave some character.

  • Designed by Nick Buss & Clare Olof
  • Built by Field Work Rest & Play
  • Link to more info here
  • Corner of the World Garden

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Leyton Gallery at Leyton Library

Marilyn, Roger, Alison and Rob at the opening.
After a lot of hard work by a small team including Mariln Payne, Alison Chaplin, Rob Lovell and Roger Payne,Leyton Gallery has it's first exhibition at Leyton Library. This is a new permanent gallery space for Leyton, which will hold changing exhibitions over the years. The opening was on Friday  20th  July and the exhibition is running through the summer.
Leyton Gallery website here

Guest at the opening and Helen Alveranga's work.

 Leyton Library High Road Leyton E10 5QH Tel 020 8496 1090
 Opening hours
  • Monday, 9am-7pm
  • Tuesday, 9am-7pm
  • Wednesday, 9am-7pm
  • Thursday, 9am-7pm
  • Friday, 9am-7pm
  • Saturday, 9am-6pm
  • Sunday, 12noon-4pm

The exhibition space is on the first floor of the library, a lovely large light room which holds the computers for the public to use now.  The hanging system that Roger and Marilyn worked hard to get funded, works really well  and this inaugral exhibition has works by myself and Helen Alveranga, website here Alison Chaplin,website here Adrian Eckersley,website here Jo Landau, Rob Lovell and Veronica Lindsay Addy.
Guests at the opening and Rob Lovell's paintings behind.

My work on show at the exhibition.
Iam very pleased to be part of the exhibition which finally puts Leyton on the arts map. Walthamstow has a number of successful arts projects and groups including the E17 Art Trail and I am part of that each year.  Leytonstone has its Arts Trail and Festival, but we have been lacking here in Leyton for galleries or arts projects. I hope it's a sign of more things to come.

Guests at the opening and Alison Chaplin and Adrian Eckersley's paintings.

Guest at the opening and painting by Veronica Lindsay-Addy.

Trees by Alison Chaplin and smaller paintings by Jo Landau.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Invitation to Survival of the Fittest exhibition at The Waterworks nature reserve

One of mixed media pieces is going on show in Survival of the Fittest, an exhibition curated by Katja Rosenberg. In Papilio esoteric I was thinking about the old collectors and collections of insects and butterflies, in old science.  But the butterflies have evolved and one aspect of them shows particular qualities. I enjoyed working on the idea and produced quite a few butterflies.

The website for the whole exhibition, which has some great work in a range of mediums is

 The exhibition is on at The Waterworks Nature Reserve  Lammas Road (off Lea Bridge Road), London E10 7QB
Bus routes 48, 55
and 56, easy parking

  The opening is on Saturday 21st July from 12 noon with brunch bites, everyone welcome.
The exhibition runs from    20 July – 1 October 2012
Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, weekends 8am-7pm

Monday, July 02, 2012

Celebrate the City festival

The streets around Cheapside were  filled with unusual sights on the 23rd June, as some of the Worshipful Companies were demonstrating their crafts.

 I have only recently been finding out a bit more about the Guilds and Worshipful Companies after seeing them in the Lord Mayors Show and at the pancake race outside the Guildhall. Some of the Guilds and Livery Companies had their origin in Saxon times. The oldest charter of incorporation was given to the Worshipful Company of Weavers in 1155.

The Guildhall  link here was completed in 1440 and is the only secular stone structure dating from before 1666 still standing in the city.
A good short history of the guilds here.

On the streets, the Worshipful Company of Woolmen had sheep and goats. The Worshipful Company of Turners were demonstrating wood turning with traditional hand built tools and lathe.

The worship Company of Farriers were shoeing horses and the Worship Company of blacksmiths had set up a number of braziers to demonstrate their work.

The Worshipful Company of Poulters had a cockerel, chickens and chicks which were fascinating a lot of children. It was interesting to see how many Guilds are still flourishing.

The market in the Guildhall yard had many more Guilds including the Worshipful Company of the Makers of Cards. Where one of the Liverymen and the clerk were dressed as playing cards.

I bought their book on the history of the guild and the design and history of their cards, The Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards of the City of London, by John G. Thorpe, which has many fascinating facts and illustrations.

The Company has produced an annual pack of cards since 1888 with the current Master of the Guilds portrait on the Ace of Spades. Commemorative packs are also produced.Link to their site here