Manchester, Hollywood of the North. Once a faceless playset of Legoland offices and toy block apartments, Salford Quays has emerged as a creative hub of TV studios, theatres and galleries. Architecturally daring and visually stunning (be there at dusk) this is the proof of Second City status. You can also get really cheap jeans here, too.
Posts Tagged With: Culture
Midnight at The Opera House
Much as I’d like to show you some pictures of Cats the musical, there were no cameras allowed and particularly vigilant staff hovering over me for the entire show. The evening was spectacular, a riot of colour and the second half conquered it’s first-night nerves for a storming performance. The British show, currently touring in the UK is also the longest running touring show in the States and is based on T.S Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
Under Big Ben
Emerging from one of the most impressive tube stations, deep beneath Westminster, we stood in the shadow of Big Ben and before long we were wandering off the beaten track, away from the tourists.
The Palace of Westminster is an impressive riot of Gothic fakery, every buttress and spire insisting on it’s medieval origins. The Houses of Parliament are a testament to the great Victorian illusion that the establishment was rather more established than it really was. But just behind the familiar sight of Big Ben is a quiet empty park free from coach parties and cameras.
I had no idea Victoria Tower Gardens were hidden behind the bustle of buses and mounted police. A single stone folly, the Buxton Memorial Fountain stands on the great stretch of green which runs parallel to the Thames.
Designed in 1865, the fountain has been moved, ransacked, and renovated. It’s original statues have been stolen, but it remains a monument to the abolition of slavery in The British Empire. (Although there are some clubs in Vauxhall where slavery is alive and well and something of a vocation!)
The metal spire is unusually colourful for the period and has more in common with Gaudi than the grim preserve of the Victorians.
Stone lions guard the fountain which used to spout drinking water under the beautiful vaulted marble roof.I can see the place is more suited to a Vogue fashion shoot now, than the pomp and pageantry of the past.
London fizzes with energy, so finding an oasis like this is a relief, even if the sun is hiding and May feels more like November.
“Hello? London? Big Ben? Sovereign’s Entrance? Are you avin a larf?”
This is why I love London. You can wander just a few yards and the scenery around you is transformed, from Nu Industrial Deco to Gothic Revival in a matter of seconds. I think I made the first one up, but the Capital is alive with hidden wonders, and taking a wrong turn is the thing to do.
Shaking Pedestals – David Hoyle at The Tate
There’s a cliché that people in designer clothes attend art galleries to appreciate the Greats, making worthy appraisals while stroking their chins. David Hoyle arrives in front of a Picasso in a dress made of pens and all hushed reverence is drowned by laughter from an audience who are eager to see the great works through David’s eyes. There are even a few clichés amongst us, caught up in the crowd and slightly bemused as they are swept along in a refreshingly surreal tour of the famous gallery.
“I’m interested to know what the girl who modelled for this actually looked like,” says David regarding the Picasso before us, voicing our own unconscious, secret thoughts. It’s this delicious rebellion against the unthinking, accepted perception of art that unites us all as we move from one piece to another.
“This one is very…blue,” says David, unable to contain his own mirth and moves swiftly on. “Next!” A Henry Moore-style sculpture is similarly presented. “I wonder if this piece came out of the kiln looking quite how the artist expected it to?” But this isn’t irreverence for the sake of it: David is an accomplished artist himself and goes on to do a painting of a member of the audience right before our eyes and donates the work to the gallery.
‘What does this make you think of?” asks David, indicating a plastic plant spray in a glass display case with what appears to be a selection from the B&Q gardening range. “Arts Council grants,” I reply a little too quickly. Scathing, hilarious and thought-provoking, David Hoyle himself is perhaps the most striking piece in the Tate. Crackling with spontaneous wit, he is an unpredictable splash of colour, the painted shaker of pedestals.
David Hoyle can be found on Facebook.
Mount Olympus: Origin of the Olympic Ideal
Home of the gods and the origin of the Olympic ideal. Mount Olympus was the seat of Zeus, and the games were held in his honour at Olympia. A permanent crown of angry clouds reign above the peaks, ample inspiration for legends and myth.
I’ve stood at the foot of this mountain gazing in awe, wondering if Spielberg was inspired by such an imposing view. You can imagine how the ancient Greeks saw gods in these clouds.
Exploring the mountain itself is an adventure: wild boar bigger than cars, shrines, snakes and giant waterfalls.
In the shadow of the mountain is a museum, containing art, jewellery and sculpture so sophisticated you would think it was crafted in modern times. Walking round with my mouth open, I was amazed at how advanced ancient Greek culture was. It’s easy to see how this was the cradle of modern civilisation.
Greek culture is rich and colourful, and wandering from Mount Olympus down to Olympic Beach you can see how a different kind of deity dominates. The churches have brightly decorated interiors, adorned with icons, murals and relics.
If there isn’t a church to hand, there are shrines everywhere. Even on the beach!
We finally found some holy wine…(don’t run, Panos!)
Angela Merkel was spotted swimming in the sea…
Greece is a wonderful country which I’ve visited many times. Unfortunately Germany is hell-bent on destroying this proud nation, imposing draconian sanctions on the people, causing widespread poverty and suffering. For some bizarre reason, the western media portrays the Greek people as deserving of punishment, and nothing could be more wrong. The people unfairly pay the price of their corrupt government (Spain and Italy seem exempt from similar penalties: I mean, really. Italy!) As Sea Monster Merkel spies oil in the Greek sea, you can rest assured she will make the nation a slave to her appetites.
Despite the economic upheaval, tourism is alive and well, and you can support the Greek people by taking your vacation there. Take a look at my trip to idyllic Santorini here.