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Urban Sublime: An exhibition of paintings by the Urban Contemporaries and guests at the Coningsby Gallery, 30 Tottenham Street from 4th July to 16th July 2022

Frank Creber, Glenkerry House

Regular readers will know that we often feature the artwork of Frank Creber who is an artist with over thirty years experience of working with community groups in Bromley by Bow. Frank has charted the connection between redevelopment and their impact on local communities and has created work related to Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs.

Frank Creber, The Yellow Bridge

I am delighted to say that Frank and a group of artists are holding a new exhibition that explores the theme of the Urban Condition.

Jane Palm-Gold, Homeless In St. Giles-in-the-Fields Churchyard During Lockdown Awaiting Soup Kitchen

Frank is part of a group called Urban Contemporaries which are a number of figurative painters aiming to explore the city experience. A motivation for the artists of the Urban Contemporaries is to create exhibitions made up purely of paintings and so to offer an opportunity to weigh the qualities and virtues of the medium.

Ferha Farooqui, Landscape and memory

It presents the ways contemporary painters continue to develop their language, finding links to the past and applying them to living, contemporary subject matter.

Melissa Scott-Miller, Hillmarton Road at night

Many of the paintings explore the energy and tension of modern life examining particular places and scenes of the city environment.

Sarah Lowe, Latte to go

Many of the artists in Urban Contemporaries create works that meticulously record from life in all its elements.

Philippa Beale Leicester Square 2000

The artists who make up the 16 Urban Contemporaries and the invited guest artists offer dynamic, thought provoking contemplations of the city environment, and the, predominantly, figurative nature of the works make them accessible to all audiences.

Artists: Philippa Beale, Trevor Burgess, Frank Creber, Susanne du Toit, Gethin Evans, Ferha Farooqui, Annette Fernando, Timothy Hyman RA, Michael Johnson, Sarah Lowe, Elizabeth McCarten, Jane Palm-Gold, Alex Pemberton, Melissa Scott-Miller, Grant Watson, Charles Williams.

Coningsby Gallery
30 Tottenham Street
London, W1T 4RJ

Opening hours: 9:30am to 6pm Monday to Friday
Weekend opening hours: 12pm to 6pm Saturday and Sunday 9th and 10th July

Summer Lights at Canary Wharf from 21 June to 20 August 2022

Canary Wharf is known for its Winter Lights Festival but often has a Summer Lights Festival that celebrates the beauty of natural light, and the long summer days.

On a beautiful sunny morning, I made a tour of some of the outdoor installations, there are 11 new installations, as well as 6 permanent pieces, around Canary Wharf for visitors to discover, plus a exhibition of hand-blown glass in the Lobby of One Canada Square.

Pointillist Bird by Yoni Alter, Wren Landing
Yoni Alter has taken inspiration from the pointillist movement of the 1880s characterised by the painting technique of applying small dots of paint to build up the whole picture. Here, 98 colourful translucent discs are suspended in mid-air to form a 3-meter-wide magnificent pointillist bird.

Helix by Calidos, Cabot Square
Helix is a conceptual representation of the DNA chain, the basic structure of human life. The structure works with the natural elements: wind gently rotates the structure, whilst sunlight catches and highlights the multi-coloured, reflective metal.

Love Birds by Atelier Sisu, Jubilee Park
Love Birds is an immersive and naturally kinetic installation. Gliding above the audience, the colourful birds flutter in the wind, catching the sunlight and casting shadows on the ground.

Lights on Data by Fisheye, Reuters Plaza
Have a seat and take a look at how this solar experiment unravels its secrets. As visitors enjoy this conceptual piece of city furniture, the sun creates an alluring shadow play filled with colour, reflection and even data.

Planet @ Risk by Mark Swysen, Water Street
A welded construction in aluminium suggests the 8 meridians and the Arctic and Antarctic polar circles of a huge see-through globe. On a sunny day the installation will appear to radiate through the reflection of sunlight in the central cylindrical mirrors.

Infinity and Beyond by Martin Richman & Emma Kate Matthews, Harbour Quay Gardens
Infinity and Beyond offers a layered and visually ambiguous experience of Canary Wharf’s Harbour Quay Gardens, presenting infinite reflections of adjacent buildings and multi-image patterns of the surroundings within each structure. Much like a kaleidoscope, each module is lined with reflective mirror, with holes cut in the surface.

This installation consists of six free-standing triangular units. They stand at three different heights to accommodate a wide range of visitors, including children, adults, pushchairs, and wheelchair users.

Expanded Landscapes by Nathaniel Rackowe, Harbord Square Gardens
Expanded Landscapes echoes and unpicks the built environment of Canary Wharf. Surface, colour, transparency, and form come together to act as an expansive counterpoint to the surrounding architecture.

Gleamhhh by OGE Design Group, Cubitt Steps

The Long and Winding Road by Ottotto, Harbour Quay Gardens
Made from corrugated drainpipes on a steel structure, this installation is a great example of the repurposing of materials, and the transformation of the functional into the beautiful.

The installation encourages people to walk within the and be bathed in the yellow light streaming through the pipes.

O.T. 1131 by Stefan Reiss, Level -1, Crossrail Place

Love IRL by Stuart Langley, Adams Plaza

Ebb & Flow by Louis Thompson, Lobby, One Canada Square

Ocean Rise by Aphra Shemza, Canary Riverside
Ocean Rise is a mixed reality sculpture that highlights the rise in sea levels due to global warming. The sculpture is made from recycled materials that emulate a wave creating a connection between the city and the ocean.

Shine Your Colours by Tine Bech, Canary Riverside

Captivated by Colour by Camille Walala, Adams Plaza Bridge

Tear by Richard Hudson, Jubilee Plaza

Kaleidoscopic Prisms by Fiona Grady, Jubilee Pavilion

The Knot by Richard Hudson, Water Street

An Hour of Glass By Colin Priest, throughout Canary Wharf

There is always plenty going on in Canary Wharf over the summer so why not try to spot in installations and the rather colourful steps.

RNOV Shabab Oman II in West India Dock

After a few days in Canada, it was a surprise to see a rather crowded West India dock on my return. One of the more interesting visitors is the Shabab Oman II is a sail training ship for the Royal Navy of Oman and is 87-metre (285 ft) long with a beam of 11 metres (36 ft). When fully rigged there is a total of 2,700 square metres (29,000 sq ft) of sails.

Shabab Oman II was built to replace the popular ageing Shabab Oman. The new ship is a three-masted squared rigged clipper, with a sailing speed of up to 17 knots. She has a crew of at least 90 made up of 54 permanent crew and 36 trainees.

Shabab Oman II was designed by Dykstra Naval Architects, Amsterdam, Netherlands. She was built by Damen Shipyards, Galaţi, Romania and launched on 2 December 2013.In 2014, she was towed to Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding, Vlissingen, Netherlands for fitting out, including the fitting of her masts.

She entered service with the Royal Navy of Oman in August 2014. Her first long voyage was the crossing of the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea and the Sea of Oman to reach Muscat, the Omani capital.

In 2019, Shabab Oman II visited 17 ports in 12 countries and is a welcome visitor to London where she follows a long line of sail training ships that have visited the dock. It is always a thrill to see ships that are continuing the skills and traditions of sailing ships.

The Elizabeth Line is Open in Canary Wharf

Let us go back in time to 2017, I had been to the Crossrail exhibition at the Museum of Dockland and was invited to go to look at the new Canary Wharf station for Crossrail.

With considerable excitement, I made my way down the escalators to the shiny new platforms and then peered along the tunnels.

Although the station was still being fitted out, there seemed no reason that the station would not be ready in 2018.

That early optimism was rather misplaced and here we are on the 24th May 2022 and I am making my way to the Canary Wharf station to take my first trip on the Elizabeth Line.

It is worth remembering that the new Elizabeth Line is one of the biggest changes in London infrastructure in a century. Three-and-a-half years late and at least £4bn over-budget, the Elizabeth line has finally opened. When it’s fully operational, the new rail line, will serve up to 200 million passengers each year. The line is expected to increase London’s train capacity by 10%.

The project was originally known as Crossrail has built a 73-mile (118km) railway line all across south-east England. It runs from Essex in the east to Berkshire in the west, running underground through central London. There are two western branches, which terminate at Reading and Heathrow Airport, and two eastern branches, ending at Shenfield in Essex and Abbey Wood in south-east London.

Ten new stations have been built for the central London section, which connect Paddington, Bond Street, Liverpool St and Canary Wharf.

What you will first notice is trains are bigger, carrying up to 1,500 passengers – significantly more than a London Underground train.

They also seem quieter and more airy, although the train was not full, there seemed plenty of space.

For people that live on the Island and Canary Wharf, getting to Whitechapel is now only 5 mins away and Liverpool Street around 8 mins. The major difference is going east to west is now much easier and the once torturous trek to Paddington and Heathrow should now be much easier.

At the moment, a full service is not available yet. Initially, trains will run six days a week, every five minutes from 06:30 to 23:00 with no Sunday service. The line will operate in three parts – from Abbey Wood to Paddington, from Heathrow and Reading to Paddington, and Shenfield to Liverpool Street. Bond Street station in central London will not open until later this year, due to problems during construction. From the autumn, trains from Heathrow will no longer terminate at Paddington, and will continue on through the central section of the line. Passengers won’t be able to travel directly from one end of the line to the other until May 2023.

The new line will mean significant shorter times for many travellers. Elizabeth line fares are identical to those on London Underground. Services currently operating as TfL Rail will remain unchanged although there will be a £7.20 premium on journeys to and from Heathrow airport.

Peak single journeys to Heathrow from central London (weekdays between 06:30-09:30 and 16:00-19:00) will cost £12.70 and be £2 cheaper at other times. In comparison, peak and off-peak Tube fares are currently £5.50 and £3.50 respectively, while the Heathrow Express costs £25.

Older person’s freedom passes allowing free travel, including to Heathrow and Reading, will be accepted after 09:00 on weekdays and at weekends.

At last, Crossrail or the Elizabeth Line is here and opens up plenty of options for travel in and beyond London.

Gitana Superyacht in West India Dock

It is like the old days (pre Covid) in West India Dock with the arrival of another superyacht. The latest visitor is the Gitana which has a length of 48.2m and was built in 1997 at the Feadship yard in the Netherlands.

The Gitana which was previously named Carolina, Noa VII and Katrion, features exterior design by Guido de Groot Design, interior design by John Munford Design, with naval architecture by De Voogt Naval Architects.

Up to 12 guests are accommodated on board the Gitana, and she also has accommodation for 10 crew members.

The yacht Gitana has a steel hull and aluminium superstructure. She is powered by 2 Caterpillar Inc engines, which give her a cruising speed of 13.5 kn and a top speed of 14.8 kn.

According information on the net, Gitana superyacht is currently for sale at an asking price of €16,500,000.

Motor yacht A2 in West India Dock

On a beautiful spring day, I took a wander into West India Dock to see the latest arrival. The motoryacht A2 has a very interesting history of owners.

The yacht A2 was built by Feadship in 1983. She was built as Circus II, for William Bennett. He was the founder of the gaming giant Circus Circus Enterprises. She was later sold to Les Wexner who named her Limitless. Later she was bought by Sir Thomas Ogden, who named her Masquerade.

In 2011 she was bought by George Lindemann, who named her A2 and sent her for a refit to Pendennis. The yacht’s classical design led to her use as a support vessel for the schooner Adela, which is owned by the Lindemann family.

What makes the yacht really interesting is to see the way that superyachts have developed since the 1980s, the A2 looks old fashioned compared to modern yachts but has a lot more character.

The refit by Pendennis took the classic yacht but bought it up to date with re-engineering all systems, installation of new deck equipment, modern bridge technology and state-of-the-art AV equipment throughout. The yacht can accommodate 12 guests and has a crew of 9.

Also in the dock is PHI which has been the subject of much debate, allegedly owned by a Russian oligarch, the ship has been in the dock for a number of weeks and may be here for a considerable time.

A Spring walk to Mudchute Park and Farm

We have a number of traditions at Isle of Dogs Life, one of the most enjoyable is the Spring visit to Mudchute Park and Farm.

The spring flowers are blooming, the blossom is filling the trees and the birdsong is at its loudest. Although I enjoy the urban life, I do yearn occasionally for a walk through a woodland and the sound and smell of rural life.

In the Isle of Dogs, among the concrete jungle, Mudchute Park and Farm is a rural oasis on our doorstep.

Like most things on the Isle of Dogs, Mudchute Park and Farm has a fascinating history, the large open space where the Mudchute Farm and Park now stands was for centuries grazing land. However during the building of the Millwall Docks in 1865 much of this land was used for storing the bricks that were used to build the dock walls and buildings. During construction of the Millwall Docks in 1865–7 the land remained a brickfield, However after the docks opened in 1868 the land was once again used for grazing.

This changed in 1875 when The Dock company developed an innovative system of dredging its docks designed by the company’s engineer, Frederic E. Duckham. This involved the pneumatic transmission of mud, out of the dock into a pipe which ran under East Ferry Road to be deposited on the grazing land creating a mudfield. Over time the mud accumulated to create small hills and bumps, however towards the end of the 19th Century there was concerns when the mudfield was considered a health hazard and steps were taken to close the pipe which was discontinued in 1910.

Gradually the hardened mudfield became known as the Mudchute and was later used for allotments . At the beginning of the war the land was used for gun placements. Many people may be surprised when they come across a large Ack Ack Gun in the farm but this is a reminder of its former use.

After the war, various schemes were put forward for the use of the land , however it was not until 1973 that the site was transferred to the GLC to be used for housing. However, there then began a campaign by local residents and supporters called the Association of Island Communities who wished the land to be used as public open space, the success of this campaign led to the creation of an urban farm in 1977.

In 1977, the Mudchute Association was formed to preserve and develop the area which they have done by adding to the existing fauna and flora to provide a diverse environment that attracts all forms of wild life. It was somewhat ironic that the mud that had caused dismay to many people was full of nutrients that provided good growing conditions for many plants.

Farm animals have been introduced over the years to give visitors a variety of experience, there has always been an educational aspect to the Associations work and close ties have been developed with local companies, local schools and other community groups.

Spring is a wonderful time to visit the farm with spring lambs running around the field. The outer parts of the park is woodland with lots of wildlife and paths that take you all over the park.

The sheep were not the only attractions, there are Alpaca enjoying the sunshine as were the various horses, cows, donkeys, chickens, turkey, pigs and much more. Mudchute Park & Farm is one of the largest inner City Farms in Europe with a wonderful collection of British rare breeds and currently home to over 100 animals and fowl. Set in 32 acres of countryside in the heart of East London, Mudchute is a community charity which runs a number of events throughout the year.

If you suffer from some the strains of urban life, why not take a wander to Mudchute and enjoy the wonderful rural surroundings of the park and farm.

Dutch Navy Ship HNLMS Tromp in West India Dock

On a very windy day, I went to have a look at the latest arrival in West India Dock. The HNLMS Tromp (F803) arrived yesterday and I am sure they were happy to get away from the various storms.

The 144.24 metres (473.2 ft) long HNLMS Tromp is a Provinciën-class frigate of the Royal Netherlands Navy. The ship was laid down in 1999, launched in 2001, and commissioned in 2003. The frigate is named after Dutch naval heroes Maarten Tromp (1598–1653) and Cornelis Tromp (1629–1691).

In 2010, Tromp was deployed to the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa as part of Operation Atalanta, which is composed of European Union naval units. The operation was tasked with suppression of piracy in the region. In the same year Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands visited Norway aboard Tromp for a 3-day state visit.

Not sure why the ship is visiting the dock, but is a welcome visitor after a very quiet 2021.

Phoenix Superyacht in West India Dock

Start of a new year and superyachts are still arriving at West India Dock, the latest arrival is Phoenix which has a length of 41.14m (134’12”).

The yacht’s builder is Benetti from Viareggio in Italy who delivered superyacht Phoenix in 2021.

The Phoenix features exterior design by RWD and interior by Bonetti / Kozerski architecture DPC, with naval architecture by Benetti SpA.

Up to 10 guests can be accommodated on board the Phoenix, and she also has accommodation for 9 crew members including the captain.

The Phoenix has been in St Katherines Dock for a while and people have speculated that the yacht belongs to the new owners of St Katherines Dock but nothing official is known.

West India Dock Review 2021

It is a tradition of Isle of Dogs Life at this time of the year to write a review of the ships that have called at West India Dock. Whilst we have not had the numbers or variety of previous years, we have a number of interesting visitors.

It has been the year of the superyachts in the dock and three of the ships are still in the dock, Bravo Eugenia, PHI and Here Comes The Sun have been here since December. The old favourite tall ship Tenacious made an appearance and in Greenwich was the RRS Sir David Attenborough polar research ship for a time.

Bravo Eugenia superyacht

PHI superyacht

Moon Sand Superyacht

Here Comes The Sun Superyacht

Dr No

Super Yacht Kismet

Tall Ship Tenacious

RRS Sir David Attenborough polar research ship

Let us look forward to the return of more ships to the dock. The development surrounding West India Dock and Canary Wharf is gradually becoming completed and hopefully we can put the pandemic behind us in 2022.

I would like to wish our readers a happy and healthy New Year.