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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

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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.

Programme

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.

Programme

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

Macbeth at the Space on the Isle of Dogs – 24th to 27th May 2017

Historically, the Isle of Dogs has not had many places of entertainment in the 19th and 20th century, people tended to travel to Poplar or Greenwich for theatres and shows.

One notable recent exception has been the Space which is a performing arts and community centre based in a converted church. The Space is run by St Paul’s Arts Trust and puts on a large number of events per year.

Recently, I was sent the details of a new modern version of Macbeth to be produced by Early Doors Productions which is an Essex based Production Company.

The production reimagines the ‘Scottish play’ for a modern audience and features a gangster named Macbeth who receives a prophecy from a trio of whores that one day he will become the ‘King’. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders the current King and takes the throne for himself.

Needless to say it does not end well for our hero/villain.

The Cast List

Macbeth – Justin Cartledge

Lady Macbeth – Rachel Lane

Banquo – Darren Matthews

Duncan – Matt Jones

Donalblain – Ben Martins

Macduff – Matt Jewson

Lady Macduff – Amy Clayton

The Porter/Heccat – Julie Salter

Street Girl 1/Fleance – Hayley Webber

Street Girl 2/Lady Macbeth’s Attendant – Nicole Campbell

Street Girl 3/Lady Macduff’s Attendant – Jen Bell

The performance dates are 24th-27th May and tickets will be £15/ £12.

Tickets can be bought through the box office number is 0207 515 7799 or can be purchased online here.

As well as the attraction of the play, it is well worth visiting the venue which is one of the Island’s historically most important buildings.

The former church was constructed to the design of T.E. Knightley in 1859, the foundation stone was laid by John Scott Russell, the builder of the ship “Great Eastern”. The church, St Paul’s closed in 1972 and the site was used for other purposes until the 1980’s when a locally based group of individuals created the St Paul’s Arts Trust. After a considerable amount of work on the building, a new Arts centre was created. The building has a Grade II listing and the Trust includes Limehouse resident, Sir Ian McKellen as its principal patron and is a non-profit making registered charity.

Opening of the Winter Lights Festival in Canary Wharf – 16th to 27th January 2017

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Canary Wharf may be full of bright lights but the launch of the Winter Lights Festival offers some 30 spectacular light installations throughout Canary Wharf. To sample what is available, I had a wander around some of the installations on the first evening.

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The sculptures, structures and installations are the creations of some of the most innovative artists and designers from around the world who present work in the many different forms of light technology.

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Ovo – Montgomery Square.

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Angels of Freedom – Throughout Canary Wharf

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Horizontal Interference – Westferry Circus

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Lightbench – Canada Square Park

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Water Wall – Adams Plaza

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Liter of Light draws attention to world issues highlighting the need to give light to undeveloped countries in a work co-created by children from George Green’s School on the Isle of Dogs.

The illuminations will be in different locations throughout Canary Wharf  and you can download the brochure here to find out more about the festival and the whole list of illuminations and locations.

Winter Lights Festival in Canary Wharf – 16th to 27th January 2017

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After the excitement of the festive period, January can often seem gloomy but the return of the Winter Lights Festival offers some light related excitement with 30 spectacular light installations throughout Canary Wharf.

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The sculptures, structures and installations are the creations of some of the most innovative artists and designers from around the world who present work in the many different forms of light technology. Many of the pieces have never been exhibited in the UK before such as Angels of Freedom that contains a deep underlying message, discouraging discrimination through interaction.

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OVO which immerses visitors in unique and beautiful light structures, whilst On Your Wavelength is a mind-powered laser and sound installation using participants’ brain activity to choreograph beautiful light patterns.

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Live graffiti crafted from light is on show over the weekend of 21st and 22nd January with Luma Paint Light Graffiti and Nonotak perform live on 20th and 21st January. Other highlights include Water Wall which uses a mist screen to interact with visitors as they create beautiful patterns on a wall of water. For contemplation, The Garden of Floating Words conjures a peaceful note giving the impression that a cluster of glowing neon words are floating in the foliage creating a poem of transience. Liter of Light draws attention to world issues highlighting the need to give light to undeveloped countries in a work co-created by local schoolchildren.

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The illuminations will be in different locations throughout Canary Wharf  and you can download the brochure here to find out more about the festival and the whole list of illuminations and  locations.

Views of a View : Greenwich and the Thames over time

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One of the curiosities of the Isle of Dogs is that it is surrounded by iconic views of London from Canary Wharf to the north, the City of London to the west and the O2 arena formerly the Millennium Dome to the east. However it is the view from the south over to Greenwich which is considered one of the most famous views in London.

Standing in a spot not far the present Island Gardens, the view was judged to be the greatest view in Europe by Sir Christopher Wren in the 17th Century and it is especially associated with the painting of Greenwich from this spot by Giovanni Antonio Canaletto in the 18th Century.

Recently I have come across a number of other paintings that feature the view from the river or the Isle of Dogs which illustrate the importance of this small stretch of water and how the river traffic has changed over time.

Canaletto, 1697-1768; Greenwich Hospital from the North Bank of the Thames

Greenwich Hospital from the North Bank of the Thames by Canaletto – Date: 1752 (National Maritime Museum)

Canaletto’s painting was painted around 1752 and resembles the artist’s pictures of the Venice Grand Canal especially with use of craft and people in the foreground. Especially interesting is the large ship being repaired on the foreshore. 

Greenwich Hospital by Thomas Lawranson Date: c. 1750 (Government Art Collection)

From roughly the same period is Greenwich Hospital by Thomas Lawranson but provides an interesting close up the buildings.

Dodd, Robert, 1748-1815; Greenwich from the Isle of Dogs

Greenwich from the Isle of Dogs  by Robert Dodd – Date: 1792 (National Maritime Museum)

Some forty years later, Robert Dodd painted a very different scene, the river is bustling with all different vessels. Perhaps most interesting of all is we see the foreshore at the southern tip of the Isle of Dogs, The riverbank is built up and full of people possibly waiting to use the ferries across the river. The ferrymen in the river are transporting passengers. It is worth remembering at this time, much of the Island was used to fatten up livestock.

Cooke, Edward William, 1811-1880; Hay Barge off Greenwich

Hay Barge off Greenwich by Edward William Cooke Date: 1835 (National Maritime Museum)

Into the 19th century, Hay Barge off Greenwich by Edward William Cooke provides an attractive picture of a Thames barge carrying a cargo of hay and other goods. These barges were remarkably stable with a shallow draught and carried hay from as far as Suffolk and Margate to feed the thousands of horses in London. Under the hay they often carried a heavier cargo such as bricks.

Pether, Henry, c.1801-1880; The Thames and Greenwich Hospital by Moonlight

The Thames and Greenwich Hospital by Moonlight by Henry Pether  Date c.1854–1865 (National Maritime Museum)

A rather different view of the River Thames and Greenwich Hospital is made by artist Henry Pether who like his father, Abraham ‘Moonlight’ Pether of Chichester specialised in moonlight scenes. Henry Pether views of the Thames were very popular and it is easy to see with this attractive serene scene.

Wilkinson, Norman, 1878-1971; HMY 'Britannia' Arriving at Greenwich, 15 May 1954

HMY ‘Britannia’ Arriving at Greenwich, 15 May 1954 by Norman Wilkinson – Date: after 1954 (National Maritime Museum)

Into the 20th century, the arrival of the Royal Yacht Britannia was the cause for celebration after the Coronation the previous year. This was the first time, the royal yacht had made its way up the Thames and was watched by hundreds of thousands of people all along the riverside. People living on the Island joined the crowds when the yacht made its way around the Isle of Dogs and into London.

In the rapid development of London in the past 250 years, very few areas have been left untouched. However the view from the Isle of Dogs over to the Naval College has changed little over that period. The greatest change has probably been the vessels that have passed one of London’s great landmarks, gone are the great old warships, clippers, steamships, working barges, lighters  and ferries that once dominated the river scene to be replaced by the rather limited river traffic of the present day.