All that is solid melts into air

all that is solid b&w1

Riverside, Greenwich, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

It is ironic, or perhaps just fitting, that these words should be painted on rusting industrial pipes abandoned beside London’s river Thames; they come from The Manifesto of Communist Party, written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and first published in London in 1848.

The phrase is from a section of the manifesto (1) describing the ways that capitalism fundamentally changes economic, social and even physical structures. By their nature, capitalist enterprises require constant growth and innovation to survive. With changing economic conditions, old social and cultural relationships give way (willingly or not) to new forms of engagement. That which seemed permanent is no more.

London, like many cities, is growing rapidly, with huge physical changes to the landscape. Much of this growth — in construction and infrastructure development — is taking place south of the river around Greenwich and eastward towards the Thames Estuary. The skyline is punctuated with the harsh geometry of cranes and tower blocks.

London skyline. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

View from a Greenwich apartment. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Earlier this year, we spent a week in Greenwich. Our apartment, occupying a corner position on the seventh floor of a building, had expansive views; of the Cutty Sark, of the three-hundred-year-old St Alfege church (designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor) — and of building work. From every window, the prevailing view was of cranes and half-built apartment blocks, rising above London’s history.

Old and new. Local pub closed, as new apartment developments rise up. Greenwich, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Loss of community. No place for an old-style neighbourhood pub amidst new housing developments. Greenwich, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Canary Wharf Station, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Evening at Canary Wharf Station, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

We are beginning to wake up to the fact that unlimited growth is not possible on the closed, finite system that is our planet. Voices of dissent are growing in strength and number and I would like to think that Marx’s words can have another meaning — that neo-liberal ideologies, which are currently made to appear as “solid fact”, will melt in the heat of public scrutiny and critical analysis.

Change is inevitable; the form it takes is up to us.

This post was written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge.

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(1) The full paragraph is:

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind (I. Bourgeois and Proletarians, Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848).

 

Travel theme: grey

Memorial to the Women of World War II. Sculpted by John W. Mills. Whitehall, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Memorial to the Women of World War II. Sculpted by John W. Mills. Whitehall, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

As a colour, grey gets pretty bad press; associated with bad weather and gloomy days. But it is also the colour of many sculptures — like the bronze above which commemorates the enormous contribution made by women during war — and Rebecca Rose’s “Inflight Entertainment” below, which is made of stainless steel.

Rebecca Rose, "Inflight Entertainment", 2014. Exhibited at NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014

Rebecca Rose, “Inflight Entertainment”, 2014. Exhibited at NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014

The works below, by Trish Clarke and Merle Bishop are also in steel and bronze respectively, although the grey that predominates in the image is that of a stormy evening sky.

Trish Clarke's "Round Up aka Triffid Garden", and Merle Bishop's "Spot the Blind Dog", exhibited at NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014.

Trish Clarke’s “Round Up aka Triffid Garden”, and Merle Bishop’s “Spot the Blind Dog”, exhibited at NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014.

London skyline on a stormy day. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

London skyline on a stormy day. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

In the two shots above, leaden skies hang over already grey structures. In countries were rain is abundant (like the UK and New Zealand) grey clouds are often spoken of negatively — something I’ve noticed increasingly in our TV weather forecasts. For me, they speak of drama and change — things I view positively.

Grey is this week’s Travel Theme at Where’s My Backpack. You can see Ailsa’s wonderful shots here. And here are some other bloggers’ take on the theme that I liked:

Grey

https://drieskewrites.wordpress.com/2015/08/07/travel-theme-gray/

Travel Theme: Rouen’s Cathedral is a Study in Grey

Grey Days

https://sonyavdg.wordpress.com/2015/08/07/travel-theme-grey/

Travel Theme: Grey

https://decocraftsdigicrafts.wordpress.com/2015/08/09/travel-theme-grey-travels-around-new-zealand/

https://beautyalongtheroad.wordpress.com/2015/08/08/shades-of-gray/

 

 

On today’s modern becoming tomorrow’s traditional

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, with the new buildings of the Docklands area in the background. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Generations of modernity. The Queen’s House,  the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and behind them, the new buildings of London’s Docklands area. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

 

The modernity of yesterday is the tradition of today, and the modernity of today will be tradition tomorrow.

Jose Andres Puerta

When The Queen’s House (1) was built for the wife of King James I in 1619, it would have been considered radical, unusual, and modern in the extreme.

Designed by Inigo Jones — regarded as Britain’s first modern architect — it is the first building constructed in the UK that consciously followed the principles of classical architecture, inspired by the temples and other buildings of ancient Rome and Greece. The Queen’s House now sits alongside Christopher Wren’s Greenwich Hospital (2) (better known now as the Old Royal Naval College) with its baroque Painted Hall, and both co-exist with the modernist glass towers of London’s Docklands.

Yinka Shonibare, Nelson's Ship in a Bottle. Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Yinka Shonibare, Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

The interplay of the modern and the traditional-which-once-was-modern is all around us.

I love the giant ship-in-a-bottle created by artist Yinka Shonibare. Using a traditional craft form developed by nineteenth century sailors (3), Shonibare created a very modern work of art in his replica of  HMS Victory. This was the naval ship from which the British hero Admiral Lord Nelson fought the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, and on which he died during that battle. The ship’s sails are made from fabric bearing colourful batik designs commonly found in West Africa. By using this fabric, Shonibare acknowledges Britain’s complex colonial past and contemporary issues of immigration, ethnic identity, and cultural appropriation.

Nic Fiddian-Green, Still Water, 2011. Sited at Marble Arch, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Nic Fiddian-Green, Still Water, 2011. Sited at Marble Arch, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Bronze is a traditional sculptural medium, and horses a very traditional subject in art, but Nic Fiddian-Green‘s monumental, 10 metre high horse’s head at London’ Marble arch, is a thoroughly modern take on both form and subject.

The British Library, with St Pancras Hotel, London in the background. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

The modernist British Library, with the gothic-style St Pancras Hotel in the background. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

The British Library opened in 1998 on Euston Road, London. Designed by British architect Colin St John Wilson, it is the largest public building constructed in the UK in the 20th century. The project took 37 years to complete and was highly controversial, with frequent changes to the design, specification, budget — even a total change of location (4).

The building’s design has been described as minimalist, brutalist, Scandanavian modernist. The Prince of Wales — famous for his loathing of modern architecture — apparently described it as resembling an academy for secret police (4).

The British Library has, as a neighbour on Euston Road, the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel (formerly the Midland Grand Hotel). Designed by English Gothic revival architect George Gilbert Scott, the original hotel opened in 1873. It closed in 1935, but was extensively renovated and re-opened in 2011. (6)

The irony of Gothic Revival architecture is of course, that even when it was new, it was never modern.

This post was written for Ailsa’s Travel Theme at Where’s my Backpack. This week’s theme was modern.

(1) The Queen’s House, Wikipedia.

(2) Old Royal Naval College website

(3) Ships in Bottles Association of America

(4) British Library, e-architect.co.uk

(5) Fiona MacCarthy, ‘A House for the Mind’, The Guardian, 23 February, 2008 (online)

(6) St Pancras Reniassance Hotel, Wikipedia.

“… all the noise and the hurry seems to help I know”

Ska band, Brick Lane Market, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Snapseed.

Ska band, Brick Lane Market, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

I’ve been quite insular lately; not going out much nor engaging with the world beyond my front door. I was going to blame the weather; it has been raining constantly for days, and a southerly wind has blasted up from Antarctica, making even the shortest trip seem quite unappealing.

But of course that’s an excuse. Really I just haven’t felt like putting on my “hello world” face and stepping outside.

Thoughtful; woman at Covent Garden Market, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Pensive; woman at Covent Garden Market, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Dancers in the Carnaval des duex rives, Bordeaux. Despite at times torrential rain, thousands turned out to take part. Photo: Su Leslie

Dancers in the Carnaval des duex rives, Bordeaux. Despite at times torrential rain, thousands turned out to take part. Photo: Su Leslie

Earlier this year I went to Europe with the Big T and our boy-child (with a stop-over in San Francisco). It was the end of the Northern Hemisphere’s winter, and although San Francisco was positively balmy and London turned on a few days of gloriously early spring, both Munich and Bordeaux delivered very season-appropriate weather. Yet each day we donned hats, coats and gloves and we went out. From morning until late we explored, not knowing what we’d see around each corner and reveling in the sheer “otherness” of ancient European cities.

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Even on a wet Sunday the Neues Rathaus on Marienplatz, Munich had plenty of visitors. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Visitors leaving Horseguards Parade, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Late afternoon sun streams on visitors leaving Horse Guards Parade, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Street musicians on Jubilee Walkway, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Street musicians on Jubilee Walkway, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Holidays are finite. We were only in each place for a short time and there was so much to see and do; the idea that we would stay in our apartment to avoid bad weather was unthinkable.

I love the way children can make fun, even on a wet day. Bordeux, 2015. Photo: Su Leslie.

I love the way children can make fun, even on a wet day. Doesn’t look like Dad is quite so happy though. Bordeux, 2015. Photo: Su Leslie.

But of course life is finite too — just (hopefully) on a different scale to holidays. Lately, I seem to have forgotten that and have dreaded, rather than looked forward to, the new day. Looking at some of the street photos from our trip has helped remind me of how much I miss by shutting myself away.

Petticoat Lane Market, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Petticoat Lane Market, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Just hanging with the guys, The Haight, San Francisco. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Just hanging with the guys, The Haight, San Francisco. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Climate change protest, Parliament Square, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Climate change protest, Parliament Square, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Sometimes even solitude is better in a crowd …

Alone in a crowd

Brick Lane, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

… which thought reminded me of the classic Petula Clark song, Downtown (although I prefer Emma Bunton’s 2006 cover)

The title of this post comes from that song, and cheesy as it is, there is a certain truth in the lyrics. A few nights ago the Big T and I had our first date night in a while. We went to see Fallout — a beautiful and powerful play by Bronwyn Elsmore about the sinking of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour 30 years ago this July. Both of us lived in Auckland at the time of the Rainbow Warrior bombing, and judging by the way this play moved everyone in the audience — we weren’t the only ones who felt transported back to that time. Being part of that collective remembering was a powerful feeling.

Today I persevered through rain, public transport failure, overfull carparks to see Partner with the Enemy, an inspiring documentary about two women trying to build a business together against ridiculous odds.

Now it seems that the rain is likely to clear (at least for a few days) and I might even get a walk on the beach.

This post was written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge. You can see Sally’s gorgeous photos and find out more here.

 

 

 

Replicating memories: or editing the image to the mind

Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria. Visited just over a month ago, but already an old memory. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express and Pho.to Lab

Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Pixlr Express and Pho.to Lab

Memory-making is a fascinating process. It varies from person to person, time to time, event to event and is enormously influenced by thoughts and feelings that we do not always understand. Long-term memory consists of the stories we tell ourselves, and as with all stories, can change in the re-telling.

It’s about two and a half weeks since we returned from our holiday and already our memories are hugely divergent. The boy-child mentioned something yesterday that I’d already forgotten, and while this could (just about) be attributed to a senior moment, I think it’s more likely that we have each already written a great deal of our internal memoirs. Were someone to read these three stories, they may not even realise we took the same holiday.

Photography is often described as capturing memories, but it is really only a part of the raw material. Have you ever looked at an old photo – perhaps of yourself at a place or an event you “know” you attended – and thought “I don’t recognise this” or “I don’t remember that.”

For Sally’s Phoneography challenge I decided to edit some of my holiday photos in ways that I think convey the memories that I have constructed, and might continue to construct.

Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria (above) is completely unlike anything that we see in everyday New Zealand life. We visited on a snowy day too, which added enormously to the sense of “other.” This is a memory that will last and be preserved. Something similar is true of the Painted Hall at the old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, England. Designed by Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor, it is richly coloured and incredibly ornate. Yet I suspect that as time goes by, my memories of it will lose definition and become blurred. I can imagine in the future, remembering these places more like the old photos my mother has send me.

The Painted Hall, Greenwich Naval College, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pho.to Lab

The Painted Hall, Greenwich Naval College, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Pho.to Lab

Other memories also lend themselves to faded sepia; particularly those moments of togetherness where location is unimportant. Smiles and other facial expressions say enough.

The Big T and our boy-child, Michelangelo's Caffe, Columbus Avenue, San Fransisco. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pho.to Lab

The Big T and our boy-child, Michelangelo’s Caffe, Columbus Avenue, San Fransisco. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Pho.to Lab

"Street photography." The boy-child captured this moment of the Big T and I in San Francisco. Shot with iPhone5, edited with Pho.to Lab

“Street photography.” The boy-child captured this moment of the Big T and I in San Francisco. Edited with Pho.to Lab

While some memories fade uniformly, others are formed and retained with areas of high intensity which stand out from the background blur. While in London, we had lunch at the Camden Lock Market.  I vaguely remember the food (which was good), but the coffee was quite possibly the best I’ve ever tasted. It was made at a tiny stall where the barista was roasting beans in a little pan over a camp stove and grinding them straight from the pan.

In San Francisco, the boy-child wanted to ride his skateboard on Lombard Street, not realising that it is open to vehicle traffic. But he did so, in bursts, between the cars, taxis and SUVs. It was an unexpected bonus for tourists, but totally hair-raising for parents. I don’t remember much about Lombard Street at all — except the boy, the board, and the fear of catastrophe.

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The boy-child, Camden Lock in London.  The coffee menu belongs to a stall selling truly memorable coffee. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Pho.to Lab

The boy-child skates San Francisco's famous Lombard Street. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Pixlr Express.

The boy-child skates San Francisco’s famous Lombard Street. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Pixlr Express.

Trafalgar Square at night, from the upper deck of a Number 23 bus. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Pixlr Express and Pho.to Lab

The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, from the upper deck of a Number 23 bus. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Pixlr Express and Pho.to Lab

I am an urban traveler; much more comfortable in a French provincial city than in remote bushland in my own country. My photography reflects this; with shots of churches, street scenes, shop windows, cemeteries. After a while, many of these images start to lose their original identity. Is that a street in Bordeaux? In which church was that stained glass window? Which city? These are the memories that begin to take on a sketch-like quality. Luckily, I found an app for that!

Cimetière de la Chartreuse, Bordeaux. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Pho.to Lab

Late afternoon in Cimetière de la Chartreuse, Bordeaux. Quite different to NZ cemeteries, but not from others in France. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.  Edited with Pho.to Lab

Rainy night on Rue Sainte Catherine, Bordeaux. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Pho.to Lab

Rainy night on Rue Sainte Catherine, Bordeaux. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Pho.to Lab

Basilica of St. Michel, Bordeaux. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Pho.to Lab

Interior of the Basilica of St. Michel, Bordeaux. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Pho.to Lab

Dusk on the River Thames at Richmond. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Pho.to Lab

Dusk on the River Thames at Richmond. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Pho.to Lab

This post was written for Sally’s Phoneography and non-SLR Digital Devices Photo Challenge, at Lens and Pens by Sally

On the collision of the curated and the entirely accidental

Seen in Selfridges window, Oxford Street, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Seen in Selfridges window, Oxford Street, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

I seem to have developed a habit of photographing shop windows. I’ve only recently become aware of this, and have been thinking about it quite a lot. I think it’s because I love the interplay of items placed and framed deliberately — often with great care and at great expense — against the totally random nature of the world reflected in the glass.

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Still life with coral – and a couple walking their dog. Seen in window of design store, Munich. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Is it street photography? Abstraction? Or in the case below, self-portrait?

Captured in a store window in Bordeaux. "Jellyfish" made of fabric, chandelier, armchair, street scene and the photographer. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Captured in a store window in Bordeaux. “Jellyfish” made of fabric, chandelier, armchair, street scene and the photographer. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

This post was written for Sally’s Phoneography and non-SLR Digital Devices Photo Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

Cook until browned

Fuller's London Pride; a favourite brown drink.

Fuller’s London Pride; a favourite brown drink.

This week’s Travel Theme from Ailsa at Where’s my Backpack, is brown.

Now brown is a colour I actually quite like. We’ve used it a lot in decorating the house; our couches are nugget brown leather, and the kitchen cabinets dark oak – as are the photo frames in our “rogues gallery” of family photos.

When we bought the house it was full of goldish pine – a decor colour I really find hard to love. Yet, put the same hue on food and … well yum is about all I can say.

The images below were all captured at Covent Garden Market a couple of weeks ago – and I can tell you that the food tasted as good as it looked (not that I tried everything you understand).

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food5

food2

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Here are some other “Brown” posts you may enjoy:

http://esengasvoice.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/travel-theme-brown/

http://tahira007.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/travel-theme-brown/

http://nagpanaoan.com/2013/10/18/travel-theme-brown/

Travel Theme: The Brown Sardinian Hazelnut

http://dadirridreaming.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/travel-theme-brown/

http://drieskewrites.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/travel-theme-brown/

http://hanelstravels.com/2013/10/18/travel-theme-brown/

Travel theme: big

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Dwarfed: visitors to the Great Court at the British Museum

The British Museum holds  one of the biggest collections of material relating to human history and culture, with a permanent collection of over 8 million items. Around one percent of the collection is on display at any time, despite the fact that the museum is physically one of the largest in the world – covering an area of around 92,000 square metres.

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Inside the Great Court is the Reading Room of the British Museum.

The Great Court at the centre of the Musuem is the biggest covered square in Europe. The circular Reading Room used to be part of the British Library until that institution was moved to a new building nearby.

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Big; just a few of the books inside the British Museum Reading Room.

Since the Reading Room became part of the Museum, it has been opened to the general public. Before this, one had to register for a Reader’s Card to gain access to the library’s enormous collection. Karl Marx, Mahatma Gandhi, Virginia Woolf and Oscar Wilde all visited and worked there.

Dwarfed #2: the boy-child meets the boy-king.

Dwarfed #2: the boy-child meets the boy-king.

Thanks to Ailsa at Where’s my Backpack for this week’s travel theme: big