Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gaslight Alley Revisited

Currently I'm working in Mayfair, an exorbitantly over-priced area in the West End of London. Not far from my location is an abandoned Underground station at Down Street, closed in the 1920s because of lack of custom - even then the inhabitants were too well-heeled to contemplate travelling on a public transport system.

I was going to initiate a diatribe against the parasites on society who live here with their personalised car number plates and private clubs but I can't be bothered. People sponge off society at both ends of the spectrum and that will never change so I'll not waste my breath.

Despite the fact that I'm working to past two in the morning, I've still found time to visit some of the attractions of the big city. Yesterday I went to the Tate Britain to reacquaint myself with the highlights of late eighteenth and nineteenth century British Art, a period when the craft of the artist was paramount.

Today I visited Tate Modern. It was a brief visit and, as in past visits, I searched in vain for something that was more than 'The Emporer's New Clothes' and something that demonstrates the craft skills of the artist.
Still I'm sure there are enough people living in Mayfair with money to waste who can keep these modern paint daubers in the substances of their choice.

Anyway, just to emphasis how essential light is to a subject, be it in painting or photography, I revisited the small square with the gaslight that I photographed at night recently. Not too exciting now, it is? Where's the atmosphere and the drama? It's as flat as the proverbial pancake.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gaslight Alley

I was wandering the streets of London on Monday - actually trudging would be a more accurate description of my activity - when I came across this Dickensian alley close to the busy throughfare of Piccadilly. Although I'm used to seeing gaslights in use close to home in Great Malvern, I hadn't realised there were still a few left in the Great Wen. What's more it wasn't in a particularly touristy area; it appears that this minor public right-of way, and the courtyard it leads to, has escaped the passage of time and the onward march of progress.

Which is jolly nice.

Added November 12th.

I've now identified exactly where I was standing when I took this picture. It was in Pickering Place,
off St James's Street. It was home to the Republic of Texas's embassy until it joined the US union in 1845. It also has two claims to fame - it is the smallest public square in Britain (I can attest to that - cat-swinging was not an option) and it was the last place in England where a duel was fought - walking back twenty paces would have been a bit tricky.