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Last year, I had a look around The Forge which is one of the few buildings that survive from the great Victorian shipbuilding industry in Millwall.
If you would like to look inside this fascinating old building it will open during the Open House weekend on the 22nd and 23rd September 2018. Recently the Forge was turned workshops and gallery space for Craft Central.
However, many original features remain and The Friends of Island History Trust will be on hand to explain about the building and the surrounding area.
The Friends of Island History Trust have recently become a recognised charity and will show a variety of images and prints that celebrate the remarkable history of the Isle of Dogs.
Emrys who redesigned the Forge for Craft Central will be exhibiting their innovative designs, shortlisted for several awards and commended for a New London Award.
There will be a Glass at the Forge exhibition with twenty international glass & metal artists in The Gallery.
Darren Appiagyei, one of a new generation of woodturners, will be showcasing a range of his work.
There will also a Pop-up cafe available.
Getting to the Forge
Craft Central at The Forge is a five-minute walk from Mudchute DLR which connects at Canary Wharf with Bank and Stratford. The Forge is close to Masthouse Pier for Thames river bus services from Central London and Greenwich. It is also a short walk from the Greenwich foot tunnel.
Regular readers will know that I am fascinated by the Trinity Buoy Wharf area which is one of the most unusual places in London. The area has a fascinating history, The Corporation of Trinity House were a company responsible for buoys, lighthouses and lightships and in the early 19th century established Trinity Buoy Wharf as its Thames-side workshop where wooden buoys and sea marks were made and stored. Eventually new buildings were constructed during the Victorian period including the Electrician’s Building and an Experimental Lighthouse whose roof space housed a workshop for the famous scientist Michael Faraday.
By 1910 Trinity Buoy Wharf was a major local employer, with over 150 workers on the site and carried on until 1988 when it finally closed. In 1998, Trinity Buoy Wharf which was then an empty, derelict site was taken over by The Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust which began to develop the area as a centre for the arts and creative industries and the location is now home to a working community of over 350 people.
As part of the 20th anniversary celebrations, Trinity Buoy Wharf will explore the site’s rich maritime history of Trinity Buoy Wharf; its buildings, lighthouse and the Thames, River Lee and their banks nearby with a night of special events will take place including specially installed light projections, art shows, films, images, stories and guided tours.
6pm- 6.40pm Maritime Heritage talk
6pm- 6.40pm “The Wharf” by Rupert Murray screening
6pm- 7pm Supercomputer performance
7.20pm- 7.55pm Guided Site Tour
8.30pm- 9pm TBW Drawing Prize PV
Open from 6pm- 9pm:
Story Box installation
3D projection light show
Andrew Baldwin’s Sculpture Park
Elisabeth Bond Exhibition
RioFoneHack interactive experience
Fat Boys Diner + The Orchard Cafe
Open Studios including:
Royal Drawing School
English National Opera
Trinity Art Studios
One positive aspect of the trust taking over the site was that it has preserved many historical aspects of this important part of London that may have been lost. If you would like to see how this was achieved, why not visit the Anniversary party on the 26th September, attendance will be free and there are plenty of cultural delights to enjoy.
For more information, visit the Trinity Buoy Wharf website here
I was delighted to contacted recently by writer, illustrator and broadcaster Jude Cowan Montague who we featured on the website when she was writing her Young Hitch series of books about Alfred Hitchcock.
Jude’s latest work is on a more personal level and illustrates her changing personal life against the background of a changing Isle of Dogs in the 1990s.
Jude Cowan Montague lived on the Isle of Dogs with her husband in the early 1990s, it was a whirlwind romance and a very difficult time for her as she became quickly pregnant and her husband’s mental health began speedily to degenerate. The stress increased and the knock on effect for both after the separation dominated their lives for years to come.
The work is very much her story and a love story told with affection but also humour as her style is comic and tender.
The backdrop is the changing times of early 1990s Docklands. The level of construction taking place on the island at this time echoes the confusion of the relationship. The sounds and remaking of the physical world of the Isle of Dogs, the erection of Canary Wharf, the cranes embody the frustration of trying to build a family life.
Her husband was one of the participants in the self-build scheme on Westferry Road. Their house was close to Mudchute Farm, which provided a bucolic escape and a much-needed space for reflection.
In her drawings the Isle of Dogs is a ghost land, full of memories and fear as well as happiness, love and sheer dogged determination of a young pregnant woman and young mother trying to hold the world together.
Holding her domestic world together turned out to be impossible and there are some moments which are too painful to share in this tender narrative which has a wider interest for its psychological interaction with the changing landscape.
The work is still in progress. If you’re interested in keeping in touch with the project, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo Spencer Rowell, l’enfant (1987)
Since the creation of Canary Wharf, the arts have played an important role in the developing the 128-acre Estate. Canary Wharf has one of the UK’s largest collections of public art, with more than 70 permanent works by over 50 artists.
Photo Jillian Edelstein, Nelson Mandela (1997)
On the 16th of April, the estate will hold a major exhibition of photographic images, Canary Wharf celebrates 50 years of the Association of Photographers by hosting an exclusive exhibition, AOP50, a major retrospective comprising of iconic images by some of the world’s most well-known and respected photographers from the past 50 years.
Photo Alan Browning – The Pregnant Man
Formed in 1968 by a group of leading advertising and fashion photographers, AOP is today one of the most prestigious professional photographers’ associations in the world which has played a major role in promoting photographers’ rights and copyright protection.
Photo Zed Nelson, Mike and Baby Dallas, Texas (from the series Gun Nation)
In recognition of this important milestone, the exhibition, curated by leading photography expert Zelda Cheatle, will present a collection of images that define 50 years of the AOP. Photographs have been selected to illustrate the impact, diversity and quality of work by AOP members since 1968, including Nadav Kander, Duffy, Tim Flach, Tessa Traeger and John Claridge.
The exhibition covers a wide range of subjects from celebrities and stars to photographs documenting some of the world’s turning points, including wars, famine and humanitarian disasters. The exhibition will be separated into decades and grouped around Advertising, Editorial, Still Life, Portraiture, Fine Art and Landscape genres.
The exhibition will be free and held in the One Canada Square lobby in Canary Wharf.
If you are interested in photography and would like to see a number of images you may recognise and some you may not, it should be worth taking a look around the exhibition.
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.
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 .
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.