Frieze Art 2021

I have visited the Frieze art festival for the last few years and after the absence of last year’s display, it was nice to see it back. The pieces are displayed in Regents park and is free to the public.

Here’s what we saw at this year’s festival. Some of the pieces were huge and others were quite playful. I like the huge colourful panels that you could walk through. The red shape in the trees was made up of recycled bottles which I thought was a timely piece.

I think my favourite art piece on display was the cloud with lightening strikes. I just love storms and lightening.

Other pieces had more poignant messages. The mass of tangles wire was wrought from the salvaged remains of the security fence raised around the U.S. Embassy in Oslo after 9/11. The stack of colourful spheres depicted motherhood and the female body. The red circular piece allowed you to sit on it and play, I had to ask some kids to get off for a moment so I could take a picture as they were clearly enjoying themselves.

I also liked the more odd pieces. The giant pineapple was fun and the meaning of it was amusing as it was meant to be wry commentary on the ‘prickly woman’. And the monster was strange, I wasn’t sure if I liked it or whether it made me uncomfortable.

Another fun piece I enjoyed was a huge semi circle made up of colourful panels. I enjoyed looking through the different colours at the landscape around me.

I thought there were some interesting art pieces at this year’s Frieze and I enjoyed having a look, and pondering about the meaning of some of them. I look forward to seeing what will be shown for next year.

Van Gogh Alive

One of my favourite artists is Vincent van Gogh, so when I managed to get free tickets to the latest artshow in London based on his work, I was pretty excited.

We arrived on time and got checked in. We then made our way to the main part of the exhibition which was a room filled with floor to ceiling screens. The screens all lit up to start the story of Vincent and his journey of how he created his art.

I managed to find a space where I could see the screens clearly and took in the displays. The various screens showed different art pieces and quotes by Vincent, so I did do a lot of looking around.

One of the parts I really liked was when the screens all showed his blossom painting and it had been animated by showing falling petals across the screens.

The show lasted around 30 minutes. Afterwards I headed towards a small room filled with sunflowers and mirrors which was a nice touch.

There was also a space where there were easels and a video showing you how to draw like Vincent but I didn’t do this bit. I then headed towards the giftshop and treated myself to some magnets with a some of Vincent’s famous artworks.

I enjoyed the exhibition which was meant to feel immersive by being surrounded by screens showing Vincent’s work but I didn’t think it was that engaging and I felt the quotes selected romanticised the artist too much. I have to admit I enjoyed a Vincent van Gogh exhibition I visited a couple of years ago more as I felt I learnt a lot more about Vincent making him more real and it felt more interactive too.

Big Trunk trail Luton

I visited my sister who lives in Luton for the day, and on our walk around town we spotted some elephant statues. Here are the ones we found, but my sister told me there were loads more scattered about. Finding these were enough though, seeing as my objective for the visit was to spend time with my sister and her family and not go on an art trail no matter how curious I was.

I really liked the elephant with Sir Captain Tom painted on one side and a message of inspiration on the other.

I thought the elephants were really fun and liked how vibrant they were painted.

The statues are part of the Big Truck trail, and they will eventually be auctioned off to raise money for charity.

Looking for lions in London

I came across the Tusk Trail on social media and thought it would be a nice way to wander around London. There are 27 life sized lion statues dotted around London so my sister and I decided to try and find them all.

Like previous trails that have been left in years past, these statues too have been painted by various celebrates to be auctioned later for charity.

These first ones we found were around Burlington arcades. I really like the flowery lion. And the sunset scene on the other was a liked too, it made me think of the savannah.

There were also a few outside on the road nearby. I think my favourite is the ombre lion, with the colours going from orange, yellow and silver seamlessly. I really like the shiny-ness of it too.

We found some more in a church courtyard too. There were kids ticking off the lions they found on a sheet of paper they each had, which was I thought that was a nice activity.

These next ones were placed near Piccadilly Circus.

After finding these we moved towards Leicester Square.

On other roads nearby there were a few more. I really like the blue one with the scenery.

We then made our way towards Trafalgar square where we found a couple in the square itself and a few more in the area. I like the detail of the black and white with the red mane really standing out.

Last stop was Covent Garden where there were 2 more.

We found 26 out 27 as one had been removed, and we had a long but enjoyable walk around London. I think these trails are quite fun and inexpensive and something that anyone can take part in. I look forward to seeing what comes in future years.

Protesting for Palestine

I have been passionate about supporting the rights of Palestinians for many years now so when violence broke out in Gaza in the last few days of Ramadan it was difficult to see. In the weeks that followed there were many protests in support of Palestinians and against the abuse of power displayed by Israel, across the UK and across the world. I joined one protest a few weeks ago to show my support.

The route for the protest was along some of London’s famous backdrops. I joined them at Trafalgar Square and we made our way past Piccadilly Circus.

The route of the protest took about an hour to walk. We then all congregated in Hyde Park for speeches from politicians, organisers and academics. Even a heavy downpour wasn’t enough to scatter the crowd.

This protest is said to be the largest ever held in Britain for support of Palestinians and their rights. An estimated 200,000 people marched in London on this day. I pray that Palestinians are given their human and civil rights and that they are able to live in peace and freedom like so many of us take for granted.

I have Jewish colleagues and friends that I respect and I know that Judaism is a religion of peace. It’s Zionism that Israel promotes, a political ideal that leads to racism and inhumane treatment of the Palestinians. I’d also like to point out there is no room for anti-Semitism in support for Palestine.

Ramadan Mubarak 2021/1442

Ramadan Mubarak to all Muslims fasting during this holy month. We’ve just had an easing of restrictions here in the UK so while we are able to see family and friends outdoors we still aren’t able to fill the mosques at prayer times or gather in each other’s homes to open our fasts. But I’m grateful that we can see each other somehow, which is a big change from last year. I’m grateful that my loved ones and I have been able to stay safe and see another blessed Ramadan. I have also been lucky to have been sent some Ramadan treats from my friends which I will enjoy; a box of delicious medjool dates and a package including prayer beads, a scarf, rose scent and some chocolate.

Ramadan Mubarak, may this month be one where we can come closer to God, break old habits and form better ones, and I pray that we are forgiven our sins and that we all continue to help each other through what has been a tough year for everyone.

London in Autumn

The weather in London has been fairly mild so far which means that there is still plenty of greenery still around. Taking a day off I went for a walk around London to see what I could spot.

I started off in Regents Park heading towards Queen Mary’s rose garden. The trees were bare but there was still plenty of life in the rose garden this late in the year.

Walking around the 85 rose beds I eventually came through to a tucked away Japanese style garden which was nice and serene. There was also a waterfall nearby but I ended up on a path leading towards a little island on the lake instead. There were still some lovely autumnal colours around this part of the park; the yellowing leaves on the branches of the weeping willow trees looked picturesque next to the lake.

Ending up on the far side of the park and lake there was plenty of wildlife. I love how the seagulls are perched on the wooden posts, all neatly in a line, and I was delighted to see a grey heron near some silver birch trees, standing stock still almost like a statue even as I approached it. There was also a huge tree with fiery red leaves that just seemed to glow even with the sun hidden behind thick grey clouds.

Heading out the park I headed towards Baker Street and the famous Sherlock Holmes’ address. I’ve been past before and there have been long queues outside the museum dedicated to the figure. This time due to the pandemic, there was not a person in sight.

Walking along I decided to see what Christmas decorations might be up around London. I went to Carnaby Street, Oxford Street and St Christopher’s Place. Along the way I passed some purple monkeys hanging upside down which made me smile.

Then I walked up to Piccadilly Circus and spotting a blue police box which I thought was interesting. Then went past Chinatown and Leicester Square where I caught sight of a statue of Harry Potter which was an addition to the other iconic statues dotted around.

My final stop was at Covent Garden. I usually avoid this place as it’s thronging with tourists all year round. On this particular visit the atmosphere was quite different. There were plenty of people milling around but no where near as busy as usual for this time of year.

The decorations were up but sadly not many people to admire them.

I really enjoyed walking around London, there’s always something new to explore and this trip was no different, however it did feel a bit like a ghost town in places. Where the streets and squares are normally full of people, whether they be Londoners or tourists, there were people out taking photographs like I was but not many more. I tried to make the most of this unique year by going to spots that I would normally avoid because they are so busy and enjoy being able to take photographs with no people walking in front of the lens, but I do hope that things return to how things were to some degree soon, as London just isn’t the same without the busyness and rush of the people who have things to do and places to be.

Scotland Trip – part 2

The fourth day into our trip we decided to spend seeing parts of what Scotland was well known for. We had a good plan for the day but as the day went on we ended up doing all sorts of other things instead.

We were up early to go to some local markets. We made our way to one nearby only to find that it was closed. We then had to circle round to another one we found further away. This market wasn’t great but it was good to look around and see what was on offer. I ended up buying a blue stone necklace for my little niece as it was her birthday. It caught her eye and I couldn’t say no.

After spending half an hour or so at the market we were still on schedule, so the next stop was going to the Kelingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Walking up to the entrance we were told that due to the pandemic we had to pre-book and that they had no slots for walk ins! Helpfully though the staff told us that there was another museum nearby that we could go to that did have free slots. We booked our places online and made our way to the Royal College of Surgeons where the Hunterian Museum is based. It was a steep walk up but the building and the view from the top was stunning.

We also found this iconic view, I love the symmetry and elegance of the arches.

We located the entrance to the Hunterian Museum and made our way up the beautiful yellow staircase.

The museum itself was lovely, high ceilings and lots of light. I also really liked the exposed wood beams in the ceiling. Inside there was an array of beautiful and strange objects. I only took photos of artefacts that were attractive or interesting to me but there were lots of jars with eyeballs, and other odd animal parts in that I didn’t take to too well.

After walking around the museum we headed back to the car to drive into town to find something to eat. There was some cool street art around although I wasn’t able to have a proper look around for them.

As we had to find food that was suitable for a halal diet we found restaurants were closed either permanently or due to the pandemic, so it took a lot longer than expected. After finding our patience frayed we finally found a restaurant and then headed back to the hotel to freshen up.

Chatsworth House

Earlier in the year my sister was kind enough to invite me to go away with her and her family for a few days to Scotland. We were driving up so we decided to make a stop on the way to break up the long journey from London. We stopped around half way at the Peak District and while we weren’t able to spend any time in the country park I did suggest going to Chatsworth House, a place I’ve wanted to go to for years (as any Pride and Prejudice fan will understand).

Driving towards the house I suddenly spotted it sitting in the amazing green landscape with the Peaks as it’s backdrop. I couldn’t wait to get a closer look.

We only had an afternoon so we decided to explore the gardens where we could also have a picnic instead of going inside the house. The gardens were huge and were broken down in different parts. There were flowery gardens which were organised and had some very pretty flowers in them.

There was also the Victorian rock garden where I didn’t know what to expect but I was quite impressed with. The kids (and some adults) seemed to love climbing up the rock sculptures which were scattered at different heights. We ended up climbing quite high after following steps to wherever they took us.

There was the Cascade Fountain on the grounds too, which had water flowing down a long pathway of steps. It was quite an amazing feature due to it’s size and how perfectly it sat in with the slope of the hillside.

Walking on, we found a maze which was sadly closed but I loved the gate at the parameters which seemed to be in the shape of the face of a certain gentleman perhaps.

We finally made out way around to the other side of Chatsworth house, where there was a huge fountain called the Emperor fountain. We had actually spotted the water shooting high up in the air on our drive down and wondered what it was. The water shoots up upto 300 feet into the air.

The Emperor fountain sits in front of the house. Here was the iconic view from the films and photos that we always see. The house was simply stunning in all grandeur.

The house had been celebrating dogs so there were statues of them scattered statues around the house. Maybe a good idea to help give the house some scale.

Having spent some time taking pictures and admiring the house we started making our way towards the gift shop and then the car as the kids (and the rest of us) were tired and the dark clouds that had been present all afternoon had finally decided to let loose and pour down on us. I really enjoyed our visit and it’s a place I can finally tick off my bucket list. I really hope I can come back one day and explore the house and walk further into the grounds. A memorable visit for sure.

The Old New Inn Model Village

I’ve always wanted to visit a model village, but have never been able to until now. On the way home from the Confetti Flower Fields we were passing by The Old New Inn Model Village so we decided to stop and take a look.

The model village is the only Grade II listed model village in the country and was first open to the public in 1937. Thee village is made up of older building and has been updated to include new shops as the times have changed.

The shops have have a lot of detail, you can see products in the windows and people sitting at mini tables. To give an idea of scale I asked my sisters to pose next to some houses.

There was a church model that when you got close enough to you could hear a choir singing, a mini zoo with penguins splashing and a little greenhouse with a gardeners and lots of mini pots and a barbeque. There was also a model famous red phone box, which was lovely to see.

One of my favourite things in the model village was a replica of the model village, which also had another replica of the model village!

There was also a model replica of the author Thomas Hardy’s cottage which is is the area (Dorset). He was born in the area and stayed to write a number of novels.

The details that had been put into the model buildings was impressive. Shops windows with products, gardens with plants and one that even a real mini pear tree that had pears growing on it. It’s nice to see that the attraction had been maintained for so many years and that it was well looked after, reflecting the town in modern times as well as old. It was an enjoyable visit and a fun detour.