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Book Review – London Theatres by Michael Coveney and Peter Dazeley (Frances Lincoln)

Few would argue that London is the undisputed theatre capital of the world. However most theatregoers focus on the action on the stage and often pay scant regard to their surroundings. This new book ‘London Theatres’ takes readers on a tour of forty-six London theatres with stories of the architecture, the people and the productions by leading theatre critic Michael Coveney and a series of stunning photographs of the public areas, auditorium and backstage by acclaimed photographer Peter Dazeley.

Award winning actor Mark Rylance writes the foreword for the book, describing the interaction between the actor and the theatre space. One of the first actions he takes when entering a theatre is to look up at the ceiling, if there is some kind of circular device, he is convinced that the theatre experience will be fine.

The book considers 46 London Theatres as they stand in the 21st Century, ranging from the grand Royal Opera House to the lesser known delights of Wilton’s Music Hall. The theatres are divided into chapters that illustrate some of the remarkable diversity of London Theatres, these include  Grandes Dames, Palaces of Pleasure, Popular Landmarks, Informal Delights, Legends Alive, Hidden Gems, Eastward Ho! and West End Jewels.

Michael Coveney in the book’s introduction considers that to understand many of London’s theatres development, it is important to study the architectural and cultural context. Although for centuries, theatre was a favourite British national pastime, by the 1980s thousands of theatres around the country have been lost. Remarkably, the West End of London has been resilient and constantly reinventing itself, even new theatres have sprung up to provide a platform for different types of drama. Although many of the large theatres are owned by large concerns, they have often spent millions of pounds to restore the decaying fabric of many old theatres.

The book begins with the opulence of the Royal Opera House, Theatre Royal Haymarket and Theatre Royal Drury Lane, these ‘Grand Dames’ provide evidence of intriguing history, decorative splendour and more rustic back stage. One of the themes of the book is the contrast between the front and back of house with grandiose design schemes and often Heath Robinson contraptions that create the atmospheric magic from back stage.  Peter Dazeley’s remarkable range of photographs take us on a journey in the theatres where often things are not what they seem to be and the glitz and glamour is often a mere façade.

One theatre that has redefined the theatre going experience is Shakespeare’s Globe, the wooden recreation of one of the famous theatres from the time of Shakespeare, Marlowe and Jonson illustrate that the connection between actors and audience was not always as clearly defined as modern theatres and the more basic seating or standing can provide a wonderfully different theatrical experience.

The connection between audience and actors has been one of the guiding lights of the more modern theatres which have often gone back to basics, Donmar Warehouse, the Young Vic and the Almeida Theatre suggest that it is important to concentrate on the quality of the drama rather than worrying too much about ornate splendour of the surroundings.

The book is full of wonderful stories and anecdotes from the theatrical world with the Theatre Royal Drury Lane holding the record for the number of ghosts stalking the building. Often it is the ghosts of the past that make a meaningful connection between theatre and theatregoer. Many of the great actors and actresses of the past have trod the London theatre boards and it often is considered their presence is still there in the memories of the audience and fellow actors.

This fascinating and important book puts the selected London Theatres centre stage with the illuminating photographs by Peter Dazeley  and intelligent commentary by Michael Cloveley. Generally, because so much time is focused on the action upon the stage, relatively little is written or shown about the part the actual theatre plays in creating the right environment for a successful performance.  The nature of theatre and drama is often about illusion and make-believe and this book illustrates the interesting part the theatre plays in this process. Walking into an opulent building indulges the fantasy that you are entering something extraordinary and amazing things will happen on stage. Even the theatres that have gone back to basics are creating a different kind of illusion that draws the audience into the make-believe world of theatre. This intriguing book provides plenty of evidence that the whole structure of a theatre is often as much part of the performance as the action on the stage.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like further information or buy a copy of the book, visit the Publishers website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

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Book Review : Australia’s Impressionists – edited by Christopher Riopelle (National Gallery)

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Impressionism is considered a European art movement, however this book and the National Gallery’s new exhibition Australian Impressionists due to open in December 2016 provide evidence that the movement had a wider global influence and inspired a group of Australian artists who became known as the ‘Australian Impressionists’.

The first chapter in the book entitled Australia’s Impressionists in a World Context by Christopher Riopelle considers how the rise of national self-consciousness in the late 19th and early 20th centuries led to artists in Scandinavia, America, Japan and other countries to explore new ways of self-expression. The rise of the Impressionist movement encouraged artists to move outside their studios and paint the world around them. The practice of painting en plein air (in the open air) was often linked to ideas of national identity in many countries.

The complex interaction of these forces is illustrated by looking at the paintings of Tom Roberts (1856–1931), Arthur Streeton (1867–1943), Charles Conder (1868–1909) and John Russell (1858–1930). All of these artists were key players in creating a distinct Australian art movement which although influenced by the European tradition of plein-air painting developed a new Australian landscape style. Three of the artists worked mainly in Australia, however John Russell lived in France for most of his life, and was friends with Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet.  

The second chapter, The Sunny South by Tim Bonyhady charts how Roberts, Condor and Streeton embraced ‘plein-air’ painting to illustrate some of unique qualities of  Australian landscapes. Many of these landscapes portrayed the vastness of the land and oceans and the power of the sun that created a dazzling glare.

The chapter about the 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition looks in detail at the exhibition of 1889 which promoted the works of Roberts, Streeton, and Conder. It was staged in Melbourne and provided Australians with their first look at a local variant of the Impressionist movement. The exhibition was the subject of considerable press interest, however the critical reception was mixed with many critics influenced by John Ruskin’s unflattering views on the Impressionist movement. Despite the criticism, Australian Impressionist painters were in the vanguard of asserting a distinctive Australian identity. The chapter Creating a National Identity by Sarah Thomas discusses this process and how a shared new national identity was developed that paid homage to the hard working pioneers such as stockmen, drovers, gold miners and shearers.

Away from the nation building in Australia, John Russell was discovering the landscape of Brittany. Russell’s relationship with Tom Roberts in particular provided a bridge between the latest developments in Europe and the Australian movement. Russell tried to communicate to Roberts some of the techniques of French Impressionism especially in the use of colour. What effect these views had on Roberts and the other Australian impressionists is difficult to know but they did provide a direct link between artists thousands of miles apart.

This fascinating book explores the little known works of Australia’s Impressionists within the wider context of Impressionism as an international phenomenon.  The late 19th and 20th centuries were times of great political and social movements that sought to challenge the ‘old order’, art often played a part in these movements by creating images that portrayed favourable aspects of a particular identity. Looking through the stunning illustrations in the book, it is possible to identify how the ‘modern image of Australia’ was being gradually created by the artists which was vastly different from concepts of the British empire. Tom Roberts’ A Break Away and Arthur Streeton’s Fire On are reminiscent of images of the American Wild West, evoking ideas of pioneers creating a new land. It was these types of images that gained in popularity in Australia in the early  20th century. 

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or to buy a copy, visit the National Gallery website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in  2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Book Review – Mathematics : How it Shaped Our World by David Rooney (Scala Arts and Heritage Publishers Ltd)

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Mathematics is often accused of being remote from everyday life, however this book and  the Science Museum’s landmark new Mathematics: The Winton Gallery due to open in December 2016 provide evidence that mathematical work underpins some of our most fundamental human concerns.

Mathematics : How it Shaped Our World by David Rooney explores the collections of the Science Museum to understand how 400 years of mathematical practice have shaped  human activities including war, peace, money and trade.

The author considers that Mathematics is often too rigidly defined around theorems and practice which obscures the way that mathematical practice is fundamental in our everyday life. The author quotes historian Stephen Johnson who considers that recent specialisations in Mathematics  is at odds with the Renaissance concept of the discipline, ‘Mathematics then incorporated not only elements that we would now recognise as mathematics but a host of other activities and arts that today are seen belonging to science and technology’.

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The book adopts this wider concept in the first few chapters when exploring Trade and Travel, War and Peace, Money, Life and Death, Form and Beauty, Maps and Models.

Underlying many of these subjects is the idea of measurement, empires have been born and lost on the back of trade and central to many empires has been the standardisation of weights, volume and length. In the 17th,18th and 19th centuries, the increasing importance of international maritime trade depended on the ability to have accurate navigation and map making of new lands. Longitude in particular was a considerable problem which led to considerable loss of ships and lives.

Colonial conquest often led to conflict and it is often said that war provides many elements that favours innovation. The chapter on War and Peace illustrates how the technologies of war in the 20th century led to the development of computing and electronics.

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Money is central to all economies and mathematics is fundamental to the smooth running of many aspects of those economies. The chapter on Money looks at the tools of mathematics including the abacus, Samuel Morland’s calculating machine from the 17th century and the pocket calculator. However it was not just the tools but the mathematical models that have become central to understanding the economics of the 20th and 21st centuries.

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If you think Mathematics is not a matter of life and death, chapter four provides plenty of evidence that it has become central to the understanding of medical and insurance statistics. In the 19th century in particular, many reformers used statistics to expose many social problems. Whilst most of these reforms provided social benefits, the work of Francis Galton and the ‘eugenics’ movement exposed more disturbing elements of social engineering.

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Few would describe Mathematics ‘ beautiful’, however the chapter on Form and Beauty explores how the use of geometrical rules of proportion reveals the beauty of nature and have been a useful tool for designing buildings. Perspective has also played a major role in the history of art and the design of gardens, the major formal gardens of the 17th and 18th centuries were designed to express harmony with nature using mathematical symmetry.

The chapter on Maps and Models illustrates that human beings for thousands of years have attempted to map the heavens and the earth. Greek mathematician Euclid’s use of geometry was adopted by many and inspired a number of technological advances to refine the measurement of space and time. The power of computers have revolutionised the ability to apply mathematics to particular problems and develop models to provide solutions.

A series of essays at the end of the book by Jim Bennett, Patricia Fara, June Barrow –Brown, Dame Celia Hoyles and Helen Wilson attempt to consider the past of mathematics and look how the discipline may develop in the 21st century. Hoyles and Wilson in particular, point out that mathematics is a dynamic, ever-changing discipline that is at the forefront of the digital world.

This fascinating and entertaining book challenges a number of preconceptions of the nature of mathematics. Rather than being confined to the abstract margins of everyday life, the author places mathematics at the centre of the modern world. The large number of attractive illustrations and photographs in the book provide visual evidence that mathematics have been central to many technological advances which have transformed human society. It is difficult to argue with the author who suggests the role of mathematics and mathematicians should be celebrated in a wider cultural sense and not marginalised by a rigid definition.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or to buy a copy, visit the Science Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in  2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Book Review : Beyond Caravaggio by Letizia Treves (National Gallery)

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Bringing together exceptional works by Caravaggio and the Italian, French, Flemish, Dutch, and Spanish artists he inspired, ‘Beyond Caravaggio’ examines the international artistic phenomenon known as Caravaggism.

Both the exhibition currently at the National Gallery and this book sets out the argument that whilst most art historians have focused on Caravaggio’s life, little attention has been given to artist’s influence on contemporary artists within his own time and some of the generations of artists that followed.

The first part of the book attempts to place in context how Caravaggio like many artists was drawn to Rome in search of fame and fortune and how his particular style of painting attracted a considerable following soon after his first public commission from fellow artists, patrons and collectors.

The main author of the book, Letizia Treves provides evidence that Caravaggio’s early years in Rome were confined to working in other workshops until he began to develop his own particular style. Treves explains what attracted artists to the city ‘ In addition to the much coveted papal commissions, artists sought patronage from illustrious families and powerful cardinals, many of whom promoted their work and gave them lodgings in their palaces.’

Caravaggio’s early style developed into producing works depicting characters from the streets including musicians, cardsharps and fortune tellers. These pictures generated a small amount of interest, however it was the unveiling of Caravaggio’s first public commission in 1600 that caused a sensation and began a certain Caravaggio ‘mania’ that led to numerous commissions from distinguished patrons and great interest from other artists. Treves features a quote from Giovan Pietro Bellori who suggested that ‘the painters then in Rome were so taken by the novelty, and the younger ones especially flocked to him and praised him alone as the only true imitator of nature, looking upon his works as miracles.’ It was not only in Rome, over the next few years, Caravaggio gathered a number of Italian, French, Flemish, Dutch, and Spanish admirers  

Some painters began to imitate Caravaggio’s style almost immediately both in subject matter and in his dramatic use of light. Over the next twenty years, a number of artists including Gramatica, Cesso, Manfredi, Valentin, Tournier, Reni, Gentileschi and Baglione became known for being followers of Caravaggio or ‘Caravaggesques’, although as Treves comments these terms are unsatisfactory and misleading.

The chapter about Caravaggio and Britain provides an interesting insight into how Caravaggio and his followers work was considered over the centuries. Remarkably, one of Caravaggio’s earliest supporters in Britain was George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, favourite of James I and Charles I. Buckingham was unable to purchase an original Caravaggio but built up a collection that featured many of his followers. Others works from Caravaggio and his followers gradually made their way into Britain but usually by being included in collections bought by members of the aristocracy and wealthy landowners. One painting in particular illustrates this particular trail. In the chapter, A Scottish Connection, we follow how one of Caravaggio’s masterpieces, The Taking of Christ was sold from the once prestigious Roman Mattei family to a Scottish Country gentlemen by the name of William Hamilton Nisbet in 1802.

The book makes the very important point that Caravaggio’s sensational rise to success was matched by his rapid decline which led to his mysterious death in 1610. Without new work from the master, it was left to his followers to carry the torch. However by the mid 17th century, the style was considered unfashionable. Between the end of the 17th century and the early 20th century, there was little interest in Caravaggio and his followers. In Britain during the 19th and early part of the 20th century, well-known and influential critics John Ruskin and Roger Fry found it difficult to separate the artist from his violent lifestyle considering him vulgar and brutal.

One of the consequences of this lack of interest in Caravaggio and his followers was that paintings were often considered to have been painted by Caravaggio when in fact they were by artists who were using his particular style. Because of these difficulties, many major galleries even up to the late 20th century seemed unwilling to risk buying works at auctions, many of which ended up in the United States.

However the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition and the book offers a unique opportunity to discover a number of hidden art treasures from around the British Isles with the majority of the 49 paintings in the exhibition coming from museums, stately homes, castles, churches and private collections across Great Britain and Ireland.

The rest of the book explores many of these treasures in detail including Caraveggio’s The Supper at Emmaus, The Taking of Christ, and The National Gallery’s own Boy Bitten by a Lizard and other highlights including Cecco del Caravaggio’s A Musician, Bartolomeo Manfredi’s Fortune Teller and The Cheat with the Ace of Clubs by Georges de la Tour.

This fascinating and important book, full of stunning illustrations provides plenty of evidence that the obsession with the dramatic and violent life of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio has obscured other elements especially his influence and legacy. There is no doubt that Caravaggio was a fascinating figure, who in his short artistic career developed an  original, natural and dramatic style of painting which was considered revolutionary and widely admired. However this book convincingly suggests that his legacy was broad and influenced many other great artists in generations to come including  Rubens, Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Velázquez.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or to buy a copy, visit the National Gallery website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in  2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Book Review – London Uncovered: Sixty Unusual Places to Explore by Mark Daly and Peter Dazeley (Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd)

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From the authors of the very successful Unseen London comes London Uncovered, a new book that explores some of  London’s lesser known institutions, buildings, homes, shops, museums and attractions. Award winning photographer Peter Dazeley and writer Mark Daly tell the stories behind sixty of the capital’s most fascinating locations. Unlike Unseen London when the locations were generally inaccessible to the general public, London Uncovered includes places that are open to visitors but not widely known.

The various sections of the book are subjects that illustrate the wonderful diversity of London, the book features Historical Homes, Food and Drink, Places of Entertainment, Places of Worship, Remarkable Shops, Science and Education venues, Inns of Court and Unusual Museums. Each subject includes Peter Dazeley’s images and Mark Daly describes the history and the character of each place.

The section on Historical Homes provides evidence of how the rich and the wealthy tried to create a legacy in bricks and mortar. Syon House and Kew Palace were built for elite families, Aspley House was the London home of the Duke of Wellington, Eltham Palace and Two Temple Place are examples of ‘new money’ imitating former wealth and the Charles Dickens Museum is a wonderful example of a 19th century London townhouse.

Food and Drink features Dr Johnson’s local (Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese), the original Michelin restaurant (Bibendum), traditional London Pie and Mash café ( L. Manze) plus media and actors hangout (The Ivy).

Places of Entertainment delves into how many buildings which are great examples of one type of entertainment have found another use for other entertainments, Wilton’s Music Hall, Rivoli Ballroom and the amazingly decorative Gala Bingo Club are remarkable survivors that reflect past glories.

Places of Worship range from the grand Westminster Cathedral to the bizarre Masonic Temple at Andaz Liverpool Street Hotel. Equally unusual is the Inns of Court which have provided a base for lawyers and barristers for centuries. Buildings within the Inns often display many diverse styles and periods.

Britain was one of the first industrial powers and Science and Education venues pay tribute to the 19th century obsession with power in all its forms. Kempton Steam Museum, Markfield Beam Engine Museum and London Museum of Water & Steam remember the work of the great engineers, whilst Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum and Royal Institution of Great Britain focus on great scientists.

Remarkable shops such as  L. Cornelissen & Son, Truefitt & Hill, Steinway & Sons, James Smith & Sons and John Lobb Ltd reminds us of a time before the various chains dominated the high street and Unusual Museums introduce us to  the joys of the Horniman Museum, Churchill War Rooms, Geffrye Museum, Musical Museum and Wimbledon Windmill.

These type of London books are relatively common but what sets this book apart from its rivals are the stunning and lavish photographs of Peter Dazeley and the entertaining informative text from Mark Daly. This attractive and intriguing book will appeal to Londoners and visitors who like to look beyond the main attractions and find those strange, gaudy, beautiful and historic locations that make London a city that is full of diversity and fascination.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like further information or buy a copy of the book, visit the Publishers website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Book Review : Painters’ Paintings by Anne Robbins (National Gallery)

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This book accompanies the exhibition, Painters’ Paintings: From Freud to Van Dyck at the National Gallery which opens in June and closes in September 2016. The simple premise of the exhibition and the book is why do artists acquire the work of other painters? The author of the book, Anne Robbins in the first section, Possession explores some of the ways that owning paintings may have influenced the artist’s own creative process. Robbins considers that ‘ Painters have always owned paintings ; artists naturally see and are exposed to more art than anyone else , and the pictures frequently reflect the development of their own artistic search.’

The National Gallery has been the recipient of a number of painters collections since its creation and the book and the exhibition investigate eight artists collections which include 80 paintings. In the section before the more detailed look at the collections, the author considers some of the reasons that artists may acquire paintings. Perhaps one of the main reasons is that painters frequently receive pictures as gifts or exchanges with other artists. Another reason is tied into availability and motivations, financial security may lead to surplus money spent on collecting and availability may depend on the general and political climate. Other reasons suggested by the author are Collecting as homage, The desire to possess, Teaching tools, Legacy, Painters’ paintings at home, Emulation or rivalry and finally Stimulation and inspiration. All these valid reasons provide a starting point but it is within the collections themselves that provide some of the evidence to unpick some of the connections.

Looking at Lucien Freud’s collection, his painting Afternoon in Naples by Paul Cezanne 1876-77 acquired in 1999 provided inspiration for Freud to embark on a series of Cezanne type paintings including After Cezanne 1999-2000 and  After Breakfast 2001 that replicates the way Cezanne painted his nudes in the original painting. Cezanne also provides a focus in the next collection, Matisse acquired the artist’s Three Bathers 1879-82 at considerable financial cost and became gradually obsessed with what he considered was a talisman for his own career, he wrote in 1936 ‘ In the thirty-seven years I have owned this canvas… It has sustained me morally in the critical moments of my venture as an artist; I have drawn from it my faith and my perseverance.’

The next collection of Edgar Degas illustrates how the artist was inspired by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Jean Baptiste Camille Corot and Eugene Delacroix and collected a number of their works, however he collected a number of contemporaries paintings including Pissarro, Sisley, Manet, Gauguin and Cezanne.

Whereas the French artists seemed to be content to collect from contemporaries, British artist collectors seemed to more concerned with  the past.  The collection of Frederic, Lord Leighton also features works by Delacroix and Corot together with a number of Old Master paintings. Leighton’s collecting influenced his friend and neighbour, George Frederic Watts  who acquired his Knight of S. Stefano (after 1563)  when Watts was learning his artistic trade in Italy. Sir Thomas Lawrence was another British painter who looked to the past, however his independent wealth did mean he could build up a vast collection that included many drawings that was the envy of many institutions.

Joshua Reynolds reputation as an artist and as the first president of the Royal Academy of Arts led him to consider his collection as a reflection of his standing and a useful resource for his teaching. Works by Bellini, Bassano, Rembrandt, Anthony Van Dyck and Poussin reflect Reynolds status, however it is the painting of  Girls with Pigs 1781-82 by Thomas Gainsborough that suggests Reynolds may have acquired his rivals painting for less than honourable reasons.

One of the oldest collections is that owned by Anthony Van Dyck which features a number of works by Titian, whilst this is clearly an homage to the Venetian master, there were suggestions that Van Dyck displayed his work with the Titians which suggested to future patrons that he considered himself as one of the great painters of his age.

This fascinating and entertaining book with a large number of attractive illustrations explores the many motivations behind artists collecting habits, no artist works in a vacuum and are exposed to a number of influences both from the past and the present. The author explores some of the multi-layered connections between works owned and works painted, these connections often provide real insights into the various artists creative process and how various factors related to the paintings can have a considerable effect on their own artistic development.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, visit the National Gallery website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide.com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

 

Book Review : London by Design by London Transport Museum ( Ebury Press )

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Unlike many major cities, London has a fully integrated transport system which is run by Transport for London (TfL ) and includes the London Underground ( Tube ), buses, rail, tram, river services, taxis, cycling and major roads throughout the capital. This book is part of TfL’s Transported by Design celebrations especially relating to the exhibition named ‘designology’ at the London Transport Museum which takes place throughout 2016.

The Design icons in the book have been voted upon by Londoners to produce a top 10 in a collection that is curated by experts at the London Transport Museum and showcases London’s 100 greatest transport design icons from the past 150 years. Each entry in the book includes a quote from a member of the public who nominated the icon, information from a curator about the design and details where the icon can be seen.

The initial top ten present many of the most famous icons including the black cabs, Harry Beck’s tube map, the Roundel, the Routemaster bus, the RT type bus from the 1930s and the modern S stock trains on the underground. The work of legendary designer Frank Pick is celebrated by many people, however the inclusion of the Baker Street Station Platforms, the Labyrinth artwork and Westminster Station in the top ten may surprise a few readers.

Many of the designs are so familiar to Londoners that they can be often hidden in plain sight, TfL’s exclusive Johnston font illustrates how a simple design introduced in 1916 has been adapted for use for over a century. A number of the entries provide evidence of the remarkable number of innovations that been introduced in the network over the last 150 years. The distinctive Moquette fabric used all over the system was first introduced in the 1920s, Oyster cards arrived in 2003, the Legible London Wayfinding system has been helping lost Londoners and visitors since 2007, the Docklands Light Railway open in 1987, Pedestrian Countdown at Traffic Lights began in 2011, Cycle Hire Bikes were introduced in 2010 and the Emirates Air Line cable car took flight in 2012.

Eye-catching posters have often decorated the walls of tube stations, the book includes the jazzy Brightest London poster of 1924, the surreal Man Ray poster of 1938 and the artistic Tate gallery by Tube poster of 1987. Art both inside and outside underground stations have for decades have been a feature of the system, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi’s mosaics at Tottenham Court Road, the Charing Cross murals by David Gentleman, the Leslie Green tiles from 1906, the East Finchley Archer and the Wrapper artwork at Edgware Road all make it into the top 100 icons.

The rest of the entries are a mix of interesting station buildings, different types of vehicles, signage and equipment. Perhaps some of the bizarre entries are the regulator dials at Broadway, the lift grilles at Mornington Crescent Station, the Routemaster Window winder of 1954 and Wilfred the Rabbit which was perched on the radiator cap of some buses in 1922.

Although many Londoners have a love/hate relationship with the transport system depending if it is working or not, this book illustrates why both Londoners and visitors are fascinated by the system. London by Design takes a closer look at many of the iconic designs from London Transport using stunning images, drawings, artwork and photography from the London Transport Museum’s archive to tell some of the remarkable stories behind their creation.

This attractive and entertaining book will appeal to a wide range of people with an interest in transport, design, art or architecture. Spotting many of the wide range of design icons will also provide plenty of entertainment for both Londoners and visitors as they travel around London’s extensive transport system.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, visit the Penguin website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide.com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here