Who knew that Aylesbury was a hot bed of musical culture in the 70s and 80s? Well the 93,000 members of the Friars Music Club probably did, but it was a fact lost on me until I visited the Friars exhibition at the Buckinghamshire County Museum recently.
It’s nice to get out in the fresh air, when the sun is (kind of) out and it’s not freezing and wet. Last weekend we took a circular walk near the village of Cuddington in Buckinghamshire. The fields were full of bright yellow rape and everything was green and lush, which resulted in some great photos.
I’ve recently returned from a few days in Venice. I’d never been before but was struck my the texture and colour of the city, especially when we were lucky enough to have a day of beautiful weather without a cloud in the sky. The bright blue really set off the whites, yellows and reds of the buildings, so much so I felt the need to try and re-photograph everything I had taken pictures of the day before as it looked so much better.
You can see a million photos on the internet of the iconic buildings, canals and gondolas, so in this post I’ve rounded up some of the images that most show off the rich colour, weathered textures and beautiful stone in the city. I hope you enjoy them.
I’ve been meaning to go to The Museum of London for ages and I recently got round to going. Half way round I started notice lots of interesting type (not surprising that this was in the gallery called ‘Modern London 1670s-1850s: Expanding City’, with walls of bill posters, packaging and newspapers). Anyway I started snapping all these interesting letter forms as best I could with my camera phone in the museum light, and thought they would make a good blog post, I hope you enjoy them.
July has been a busy month with lots going on in work and out of work. I’m always taking photos on my phone documenting lots of the things I get up to so thought I’d share this month’s happenings in a blog post. Here’s what I’ve been up to behind the scenes:
I’ve just returned from a trip to Slovenia, a beautiful country tucked between Italy and Croatia. It’s small but wonderfully varied; from alpine lakes to cultural cities to Mediterranean sea fronts – if you ever get the chance, go, it’s wonderfully peaceful and easy to get about.
I decided to spend my day off having a mooch around Oxford. I’ve lived a few miles away from the city since I was seven so have become very familiar with the place; taking frequent shopping trips, nights out, catching the last bus home from St Aldates, and working in various places in the city. In the last few years I haven’t visited much, as it’s a lovely city I thought it was well worth a re-visit. My mum was also free so came along for the ride. I had a great day so thought I would flag up a few places we visited (and some we didn’t) in this mini guide.
First stop: Modern Art Oxford to view the free galleries. An exhibition of work by Jean-Luc Moulene (on until 25 November) is worth checking out, especially for his interesting glass and metal ‘knots’. The museum shop is a great place for trendy purchases and there is a cute cafe too, so, naturally, we stopped for a cup of tea. If you’re a fan of intimate local galleries that pack a punch the O3 Gallery and The Jam Factory are also well worth a visit.
After a wander through the High Street it seemed like the perfect time for lunch. The Covered Market is an Oxford Institution and packed with shops selling all manner of goods from Oxford sausages to hats. There are, of course, lots of lovely cafes so we headed to Georgina’s and devoured a huge bowl of nachos before wandering up and down the market lanes. I have been in the Covered Market so many times, but still have no idea where I will be when I emerge from one of the many exits!
Outside the Covered Market are the usual High Street shops, but it’s worth avoiding these and visiting a few of the more interesting (and sometimes hidden) gems. A great example if The Old First Station shop, whose entrance is off Gloucester Green. There’s lots of amazing stuff – I could have bought it all! Prints, cards, jewellery – all made buy independent makers, some of whom are local. Arts at The Old Fire Station is a charity and social enterprise and the building also incorporates a gallery, studio and theatre.
After lunch an afternoon of museum visiting awaited us and we headed to the Ashmolean, situated in a huge building designed by Charles Robert Cockerell and built between 1839 and 1845. The present Ashmolean was created in 1908 by combining two ancient Oxford institutions: the University Art Collection and the original Ashmolean Museum. The collection is huge and spans everything from Greek and Roman sculpture to 19th century art . The museum has recently been refurbished, looks fantastic and has a great shop so it’s well worth a visit.
We also checked out the Museum of Oxford, which has recently been downsized to just two rooms in the Town Hall. It’s small but informative and the volunteer there was delightful!
If you have more time than we did there are even more great museums to visit. Personally I love the Museum of the History of Science, which houses a gargantuan collection of early scientific instruments in – get this – the world’s oldest surviving purpose-built museum. Fact. Another all-time favourite is The Pitt Rivers Museum, which displays and cares for University of Oxford’s collection of anthropology and world archaeology.
You can’t leave Oxford without a drink in a pub – another fact. There are lots to choose from including the Eagle and Child (where J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and many other writers would meet), and Oxford’s oldest pub The Bear Inn which dates from 1242. We ended up in The White Horse on Broad Street. This tiny pub, enveloped by the first Blackwells book shop which was opened on New Years day in 1879, dates from the 16th century and frequently showed up in episodes of Inspector Morse in the 1980s.
So there you have it, my mini guide to Oxford, I hope it’s been useful if you were planning a trip. There’s obviously so much more to do, see, eat and experience. If you have ever visited I would love to hear your suggestions.
* All the museums and galleries mentioned above are free, except for special exhibitions. So, if you can afford it, a donation, drink in the cafe or purchase in the shop will be greatly appreciated by them (and you)!
I had first heard of Mr Brainwash through the Banksy’s documentary ‘Exit through the gift shop’, and, on a trip to the big smoke last week, thought I’d pop in to his first solo London exhibition and see what the hype was all about.
Mr. Brainwash is the moniker of Los Angeles-based filmmaker and Pop artist Thierry Guetta. He has spent the better part of the last decade attempting to make the ultimate street art documentary. Meanwhile, inspired by his subjects, he started hitting the streets, from Los Angeles to Paris, with spray painted stencils and posters of his pop art inspired images.
There is a strong Pop Art theme running through the show, alongside the icon of the spray can. The finest example of this is the parody of Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup cans, Mr Brainwash has cleverly made the soup can in to a spray can. Clever huh?
Huge paint pots, paint splattered horses, the Queen, a London cab, huge artwork and tonnes of tongue in cheek imagery (the Beatles with Kiss style make-up anyone?) are amongst the other exhibits on display. The scale and sheer amount of imagery on show in the disused Old Sorting Office near the British Museum is unlike any exhibition i’d seen before. The space literally acted as the canvas to Mr Brainwash’s over-sized ideas, there was a huge amount to see and the people there seemed to love it.
I’m not sure that included me though. I get it; it’s big, bright, fun, upbeat, quirky, thoroughly British, add you get a free poster and spray paint can – oh and it’s free to get in. But at the risk of sounding like a boring old fart I just didn’t get the hype. Nothing’s new, it’s just bigger and there’s more of it. I love Pop Art, and clever little gimmicks but this seemed a little weak and try hard for me. Despite this, the whole scale, situation and size makes it different and something you need to see for yourself to make your own mind up.
And there’s still time – the exhibition runs until 7 September, at The Old Sorting Office and the corner of New Oxford Street and Museum Street.