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Has the Mystery of the Missing Diana the Huntress Statue from Island Gardens been solved ?

In October last year, I wrote about a statue that used to adorn Island Gardens.  Regular contributor, Eric Pemberton had sent a couple of photographs which shows a classical style statue entitled  Diana the Huntress.

According to the  page from a book  “Greater London by Christopher Trent which was published in 1965,  the statue was there in the 1960s. It is in the 1970s that the park was transferred to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and it was around this time that people think the statue disappeared from the gardens.

The story generated considerable interest and a number of people began to make enquiries into the statue, one of the first leads was that there was a similar statue in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Island Garden statue was considered a copy of this statue.

However, further investigation into the V & A statue began to create considerable interest.

The interesting part about the V & A Statue is that it does have a connection with East London.

The Marble statue at the V & A is called Diana Hunting by Giovanni Maria Benzoni born 1809 – died 1873 and was made in Rome in 1859.

Diana is shown carrying a bow and arrow with a dog by her side. It was exhibited at the International Exhibition in South Kensington in 1862. The statue is adapted from the 4th century B.C marble known as the Diane de Versailles in the Louvre in Paris.

The statue was part of the Dixon bequest, Joshua Dixon was a merchant and art collector who bequeathed his collection of 295 oil paintings, watercolour drawings, bronzes and statuary to the Bethnal Green branch of the South Kensington Museum in 1886 for ‘the use of the public of East London’.

So the question arises is the V & A statue, the same Diana that was in Island Gardens ?

I decided to visit the V & A to have a closer look, the statue is not hard to find being in the middle of the café.

On close inspection, the statue is practically identical with dog looking quite appealing and arrows in quiver, it would be quite a coincidence if there was this statue in Bethnal Green and an exact copy in Island Gardens.

If the statue had been placed in Island Gardens by the local council, why are there no records ? is it possible that the statue was part of a wider campaign to bring art to the people that was popular in the 60s and 70s ?

We will only know for sure, if the V & A have records about where the statue has been and a number of people are asking the museum for more information.

Only then we can confirm that the Island Gardens Diana and the V & A Diana are the same statue.




London Symphony Photography Exhibition at Southwark Cathedral from 10th February to 2nd March 2018

In 2014, I was contacted by Alex Barrett who was raising funds for his very interesting film project about London. The project become a reality and was released to considerable success.  The film was nominated for the Michael Powell Award for Best British Film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2017, and was the winner of four categories in the Silent London Poll of 2017: Best Silent Film DVD/Blu-ray release, Best Silent Film Theatrical Release, Best Modern Silent Film of 2017 and Silent Hero of 2017 for the film’s director and editor Alex Barrett.

London Symphony is a silent film which offers a poetic journey through the capital. It is directed and edited by Alex Barrett, and features an original musical composition by composer James McWilliam. The film is a contemporary take on the ‘city symphony’, a genre of that flourished in the 1920s and consisted of works that attempted to build poetic portraits of city life.

London Symphony is celebration of London’s culture and diversity and footage for the film was captured in over 300 locations around every borough of London.

During the making of the film, Alex Barrett took a wide range of photographs, some of which will be featured in photography exhibition at Southwark Cathedral. The exhibition runs from the 10th February – 2nd March in the Cathedral Refectory.

If you would like to see the film, you will be able to attend a special, candle-lit screening of London Symphony which will take place in the nave of the Cathedral on February 23rd. This screening is part of the film’s on going UK theatrical tour, which was launched with a sold out screening at the Barbican Centre in September 2017.

London Symphony will also be released in the UK on DVD through New Wave Films on Monday February 12th 2018. The DVD is available to pre-order from all good stockists, including Amazon here and direct from New Wave Films here .

Winter Lights Festival 2018 at Canary Wharf – 16th to 27th January 2018

The weather has been grey and miserable but there is light at the end of the tunnel in many different forms with the return of the Winter Lights Festival which features spectacular light installations and interactive art throughout Canary Wharf.

Abstract, Collectif Coin, Montgomery Square – France

Artists from across the world showcase installations that can be interactive, performance art or visual spectacles.Light technology has moved on in recent years and many of the sculptures and installations are created so the viewer can interact in some way.

Braving the cold, I went for a quick walk around some of the installations to give a quick preview what is on offer.

Sonic Light Bubble, Eness, Jubilee Plaza

This six-metre wide living, breathing installation pulsates with light and sound when you approach or touch it, emitting a warm glow through 236 programmed LEDs as it constantly generates new visual patterns to a unique soundtrack.


Halo, Venividimultiplex, Cabot Square

See Cabot Square in a new light as a giant Halo seems to levitate above the fountain creating a powerful light experience.


The Cube, Ottotto, Cubitt Steps

This exploded cube of light symbiotically bonds with the pedestrian bridge at the bottom of Cubitt Steps. During the day it is an intriguing black and white abstract skeleton, but from sunset the faces of this 3sqm cube reflect and frame the adjacent scenery


Apparatus Florius, Tom Dekyvere, Westferry Circus

Apparatus Florius will illuminate the trees of Westferry Circus with a multi-coloured light installation featuring giant geometric patterns that grow and intersect as you watch. The structure symbolises the instinctive flow of a plant, taking over the city in search of light to be able to expand and create natural space.


Intrude, Amanda Parer, Jubilee Park

Some huge inflatable white rabbits, illuminated in stark white light, have been invading festivals around the world. The seven metre high bunnies appear to be quite at home in Canary Wharf!


Some of the indoor installations to look out for.

On your Wavelength, Marcus Lyall, UK

Reflecting Holons, Michiel Martens & Jetske Visser, Netherlands

Future Fashion, Cutecircuit, UK

Appealing to families, young and the old, the Winter Lights Festival is free and will run from Tuesday 16th to Saturday 27th January 2018.

The best time to see most of the installations and light affects is after 5pm with the lights closing down at 10pm. If you need a warm drink or a bite to eat, there are plenty of options around the Canary Wharf estate.


‘Old Flo’ in Canary Wharf

A new addition to the public art in Canary Wharf is the arrival of Henry Moore’s ‘Draped Seated Woman’ which was nicknamed ‘Old Flo’ by residents of the Stifford Estate in Stepney where she resided from 1962 to 1997. For the last 20 years, the sculpture has been on loan to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The bronze sculpture was created in 1957/58 by Henry Moore based on drawings he took of people sheltering from the Blitz. The sculpture was originally acquired by London County Council as part of the LCC’s Patronage of the Arts Scheme to site works of art in housing estates and other public spaces, for the enjoyment of the local population. The sculpture was located on the LCC’s newly built Stifford Estate in 1962, remaining there until 1997 when the estate was earmarked for demolition.

‘Old Flo’ has been the subject of some controversy in the past regarding ownership, however Tower Hamlets Council have been judged to be the rightful owners of the sculpture, and Canary Wharf Group will provide a new home for this work of art for the next 5 years. Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs who ’ pledged to bring ‘Old Flo’ back to the borough was at hand to promote its return. The location for the sculpture is Cabot Square, overlooking Middle Dock.

A recent post about public art and disappearing statues illustrates that many public works of art often are put into storage and forgotten about. Therefore it is nice to see that a piece of work by one of the most famous British sculptors has returned to the East End and can be enjoyed by the general public.



The Mystery of the Missing Diana the Huntress Statue from Island Gardens

Photo – Metropolitan Archives

Many regular readers will know that Eric Pemberton often send interesting historical mysteries to the website and last week he sent a couple of photographs which feature a statue that used to adorn Island Gardens.

The photographs show the classical style statue which was called Diana the Huntress, this was a familiar subject matter for parks across the UK.

The page from a book  “Greater London by Christopher Trent was published in 1965, so the statue was there in the 1960s. It is in the 1970s that the park was transferred to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and it was around this time that people think the statue disappeared from the gardens.

Over the last 20 years, people have asked what happened to the statue but more recently official requests have been made to the council for more information. These requests have been unsuccessful with the council unable to find any records relating to the statue.

Unfortunately it is not unusual for councils to ‘lose’ works of art in reorganisations or when the responsibility falls on another council.

Many people who visited Island Gardens remember the statue but have no idea when or why it was removed. It is hoped that someone reading this article will have further information that will help to solve the mystery.

I suspect that it is possible that the statue was transferred to another park or is in some gardens somewhere. However it would be nice to know where ‘Diana’ is now residing.

If you have any information, please send to isleofdogslife@gmail.com


Late Bloom Arts Festival in Canary Wharf – 10th to 13th August 2017

Over the Summer months, the public spaces around Canary Wharf come to life with a large number of events. One event that provides a platform for local artists is the Late Bloom Arts Festival which returns to the Crossrail Place Roof Garden performance space.

The festival is a weekend of family fun and performances by artists featuring theatre, dance, music and spoken word.

All the family-friendly performances are free to attend.


10th August

7pm – Sunday Jazz Assembly: Enjoy toe tapping tunes from crowd pleasers like Girl from Ipanema and Why Don’t You Do Right to forgotten classics like Cherokee

11th August

6.30pm – Band for Life: Come experience music therapy with Band for Life, an innovative project based on the therapeutic effects of music run by Tower Hamlets Methodist circuit

7.30pm – Urban Interface Dance: Hip-hop and theatre combined through Urban Interface Dance

7.40pm – Jessica Mance & Samantha Flemming: Of Seagulls and Men – A vibrant and tongue-in-cheek parody of Homer’s Iliad in which the men battle a family of seagulls for control of a seaside town

8pm – Swati Seshdarig: Bharathanatyam, classical South Indian dance – The performance takes the audience on a resplendent journey through the wonders of Indian culture

12th August

1.45pm – Piedad Seiquer: Ellas, a solo dance performance, is a work in progress investigating the figure of a woman. It’s not only the story of one woman but many women

2pm – Blooming Ludus: Salt & Vinegar DIY Summer Extravaganza – Light-hearted and just a bit cheeky, the song repertoire of Salt & Vinegar follows these fun-loving fish as they attempt to navigate the changing world around them

2.30pm – Jessica Mance & Samantha Flemming: Of Seagulls and Men – A vibrant and tongue-in-cheek parody of Homer’s Iliad in which the men battle a family of seagulls for control of a seaside town

3pm – Tango E14: Performance and workshop

4pm – Piedad Seiquer: Ellas, a solo dance performance, is a work in progress investigating the figure of a woman. It’s not only the story of one woman but many women

5pm – Un:Hurd: Live musical showcase involving local artists from East and Central London, each performing 4 of their own original tracks

13th August

10am – And So My Garden Grows: A family workshop – Cast your eye on the strawberry trees, ferns and other plants brought on ships to London’s Docklands from faraway lands then, create your own mini garden with real seeds that will sprout and grow

12.30pm – Nylah: I use my songs to move and inspire people with words and melodies that are uplifting. I make positive music for people to enjoy and relate to

1.15pm – Genio: People are people; a song about being one among all. We all are together in our world, no matter colours and creed etc

1.45pm – Piedad Seiquer: Ellas, a solo dance performance, is a work in progress investigating the figure of a woman. It’s not only the story of one woman but many women

2.15pm – RedBeard: Human beatboxer with more than five years professional performance experience

3pm – Grace Mason: Grace will be performing a range of songs

4pm – Piedad Seiquer: Ellas, a solo dance performance, is a work in progress investigating the figure of a woman. It’s not only the story of one woman but many women.

Other events to  look out for are a fun packed photography workshop on the 11th August and the Canary Wharf Jazz Festival on the 19th and 20th August 2017








Dancing City in Canary Wharf – 1st July 2017

Over the weekend, the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival (GDIF) began with a large number of events, the GDIF is London’s leading festival of free outdoor performing arts (theatre, dance, and street arts) and runs from the 23rd June to 8th July

Whilst many of the events take place in Greenwich and Woolwich, on July 1st  the festival arrives in Canary Wharf with Dancing City. Dancing City offers a series of performances from UK and international dance companies. In the parks, piazzas and waterfronts of Canary Wharf. This year there is a wide range of performances and includes something for everyone.


Maduixa Theatre (Spain), “Mulier”: Powerful contemporary dance from Spain, MULÏER is a stilt-based performance exploring female identity. In tribute to women oppressed through the centuries, the dancers’ balance, power and movement claims a woman’s right to live freely, to have freedom of expression and, if she wishes, to run uninhibited through the streets.

1.25-2.10pm & 4.15-5pm / Canary Riverside

Modern Table (Korea), “Men of Steel”: Modern Table is an all-male company from Seoul, South Korea making a rare UK appearance at Dancing City with Men of Steel. This striking performance expresses confrontation in a series of rhythmic and highly physical interactions.

2.20–3.15pm / Jubilee Plaza

ZoieLogic Dance Theatre, “Ride”: RIDE tells the story of three men whose separate paths briefly coincide as they discover a most curious thing: a car, (affectionately known as Stanley), that seems to have a life of its own. Dynamic, innovative and great fun for all the family, RIDE explores the relationship between man and machine.

1-1.20pm & 3.20-3.40pm / Canary Riverside, upper terrace

Tango Sumo (France), “Achilles”: This hypnotic trio from Tango Sumo and choreographed by Olivier Germser is inspired by martial arts and hand to hand combat. The three dancers are in constant motion, weaving together a performance based on a balance of strengths.

1-1.25pm & 4.35-5pm / Jubilee Plaza

New Adventures, “Country”: Moving and hilarious, this heartfelt pastiche explores notions of national character from a bygone era through the evocative music of Edward Elgar, Noël Coward and Percy Grainger, amongst others. Country is an early work by superstar-choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne.

2.20–2.45pm & 3.50–4.15pm / Westferry Circus


Compagnie Concourdance, “Bug and Buzz”: MA café becomes a performance space in this show which breaks with convention. Organic, robotic dance movements are paired with an ephemeral soundscape created from table-top instruments including a violin-fork and a flute-glass, in a duet that challenges the boundaries of private and public space.

1.25-1.55pm & 3.30-4pm / Jubilee Plaza near All Bar One


Motionhouse Dance, “Lost”: Lost is an intimate, dramatic and passionate work that explores the limits of what it is to be both physically and emotionally lost. Incredible athletic precision and an emotionally charged fluidity set Motionhouse apart and this sensual duet is fused with raw emotion as one dancer desperately fights to pull the other back from the precipice.

2-2.10pm & 4.15-4.25pm / Jubilee Plaza


C12 Dance Company, “Secret Encounters” : A series of short dance pieces inspired by first encounters that last forever, choreographed by Tony Adigun, Sally Marie, Annie-Lunnette Deakin-Foster and Corey Baker. Perhaps you’ll find them. Or else, they may find you…

The performances will take place on the 1st July between 1 and 5pm, throughout Canary Wharf and are free to attend. For more details, visit the event website here