Tuesday 28 June 2011

Statues in the City

Paternoster (Dame Elisabeth Frink), Paternoster Square
© Teresa Newham 2011

Sometimes changing your regular routine can lead to unexpected discoveries.  I recently took a slightly different route on my way to the office and found myself wandering across Paternoster Square, the other side of St Paul's Cathedral to the way I usually go; in the middle of the square is the most beautiful sculpture by Dame Elisabeth Frink, entitled Paternoster, depicting Our Lord as the Good Shepherd.   Another small detour revealed further treasures  -  the young lovers (a sculpture by Georg Ehrlich) cuddling up to one another in the shadow of the Cathedral itself, and further into the gardens a dramatic representation of Becket  by Bainbridge Copnall.

the UK Firefighters' Memorial, near St Paul's
© Teresa Newham 2011

 It should therefore come as no surprise that the subject I've chosen for June's Photos on the Run  (see separate page on my website) is Statues in the City.  As often with these things, it began with three and is now a series of eight photos.  I couldn't ignore the compelling UK Firefighters' National Memorial, which stands across the road from the South Door of St Paul's;  a magnet for tourists passing on their way to the Millennium Bridge, it eloquently conveys the intensity of their work during the London Blitz, and since - memorial wreaths adorn its base.  And when I venture along Walbrook I see Stephen Melton's life-size, lifelike statue of a yuppie LIFFE Trader.  At the moment he's carefully surrounded by scaffolding due to building works; usually he's lost in a scrum of commuters rushing from Cannon Street station to their offices in the heart of the City.  Once or twice I've almost apologized for bumping into him!   Not far from Walbrook is Whittington Gardens, named after the City's Lord Mayor Dick Whittington, who is buried nearby.  Here I found two Cambellotti sculptures of horsemen, given to the City of London by the Italian President during a state visit in 2005, which I hadn't really noticed before, although I visit the garden frequently. 

the Cordwainer (Alma Boyes), Watling Street
© Teresa Newham 2011

If I walk to the office along Watling Street (reputed to be the oldest street in London), I eventually come to The Cordwainer, a statue by Alma Boyes unveiled in 2002 to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Cordwainer Ward Club.  Cordwainers made shoes or other articles from fine soft leather sourced from Cordoba, in Spain - hence the name.   A famous cordwainer can be found round the corner in Cheapside - Captain John Smith, who set up a colony in America in the early 17th Century.  The statue is a copy of an original by the American sculptor William Couper which stands in Jamestown, Virginia.   I must have walked past him a dozen times, and only saw him when I started really looking!

Saturday 18 June 2011

what a difference a day makes . . .

Art on the Common 2011
© Teresa Newham 2011

June means that it's time for Art on the Common again, and sure enough around forty hopeful artists arrived at 8am last Saturday to set up their gazebos and pitches on Harpenden Common for the first day of what we hoped would be the usual two-day local art event in aid of Cancer Research.  It was cool, but sunny, and we were relieved (after last year) that there was a gentle breeze rather than a howling gale.

my set-up, thanks to my husband's help
© Teresa Newham 2011

Because S had other commitments, I'd decided to brave the first day exhibiting on my own; of course my husband kept me company (and set up the gazebo and did the general dogsbodying, bless him!), but all the art was mine.  I managed to put together what I hoped was a reasonable exhibition of watercolours, prints and photos, and because we weren't fighting the weather like last year, everything was up and organised in time for the 10am opening.

I even had room to show some old photos . . . !
© Teresa Newham 2011

The Harpenden Common Discovery Day opened at around the same time, and we spent the day sitting in the sunshine and listening to the various events going on nearby (ferret-racing, birds of prey, dog show).  My husband read while I sketched and painted and resisted the urge to pluck at my visitors' sleeves and ask if they liked what they were looking at (quite a few said nice things without prompting, which was of course much better!).  We chatted to a lovely couple who knew Portmagee, and gorged ourselves on tea and buns supplied at minimal cost by the local Scouts.  Friends came and went, and my volume of card sales crept up steadily.  By 4.30 the passers-by were on their way home and some clouds were threatening; sure enough, as we packed up some rain began to fall but we managed to get everything into the cars without it getting wet, and dashed off to six o-clock mass, ahead of the second day of exhibiting tomorrow.

Discovery Day, Harpenden Common
© Teresa Newham 2011

We knew that some people had been put off exhibiting on the second day by a poor weather forecast.  Even so, around twenty were expected for Sunday's session, and we met S on the Common as arranged at 9am.  It was windy, wet and  miserable, and only seven exhibitors had turned up.  It only took a few minutes of struggling (unsuccessfully) with the gazebo to convince us to pack up and go home again.  What bliss to sit in the warm and dry with a cup of tea!  I was sorry that S hadn't had the chance to take part this year, but she didn't seem too bothered as she'd just had a highly successful Open Studios week in Dunstable.  And I was only just starting to realise how tired I was . . .

After we'd dried out and unpacked everything my husband went into town.  Only four gazebos were braving it in the driving, constant rain and by the time he came home again barely half an hour later, only two were left. 

Ah, the English summer!