Cheerful decorations for a dull winter’s day

Given the grim winter weather this week I thought I’d share these festive images. OK, so Christmas is over but the festive decorations at Le Printemps department store in Paris  were so charming that they merit being seen even after the event.

Le Printemps window display. Photo by Caroline Banks Le Printemps window display. Photo by Caroline Banks Le Printemps window display. Photo by Caroline BanksCome on, who wouldn’t smile at the idea of meerkats in space? Le Printemps window display. Photo by Caroline Banks Le Printemps window display. Photo by Caroline Banks Le Printemps window display. Photo by Caroline BanksThe sunbathers with their foil neck reflectors at the bottom of this photo are a lovely touch Le Printemps window display. Photo by Caroline Banks

Rachel Whiteread at Tate Britain

I’ve long been an admirer of Rachel Whiteread’s work which can be seen at Tate Britain for another couple of weeks. Best known for her large scale sculpture projects, one of my favourites includes this one, Untitled (One Hundred Spaces) 1995, laid out in the Duveen Galleries

Rachel Whiteread. Photo by Caroline BanksI almost expect to see the elements vibrate with the memories of the space they contain. Rachel Whiteread. Photo by Caroline BanksMost exhibits are displayed in one large room with no internal divisions; I enjoyed walking from one area to the next and turning back to see the room from different angles  Rachel Whiteread. Photo by Caroline BanksDue Porte, featured on the catalogue cover, looks quite different from the side.Rachel Whiteread. Photo by Caroline BanksI hadn’t seen these studies and domestically scaled sculptures before, which resonated for me  in a different way. Rachel Whiteread. Photo by Caroline Banks Rachel Whiteread. Photo by Caroline BanksRachel Whiteread. Photo by Caroline BanksRachel Whiteread. Photo by Caroline Banks Rachel Whiteread. Photo by Caroline BanksHer work strikes me with its humanity regarding memory.

Marlborough House, London

Another discovery for me during Open House was Marlborough House on Pall Mall. Well I say on but pedestrians actually go through a little gateway and down an alley

before coming to this splendid entrance below. No photography was permitted inside as it is the headquarters of the Commonwealth of Nations and the seat of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Built for Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough and Queen Anne’s confidante, it remained the Dukes of Marlborough’s London residence for over a century. This grand palace backs on to the Mall – I’ve often seen the flags visible over the wall and wondered what they meant.

Now I know. Look at the size of it!

The flagpoles look tiny in this shot which gives you an idea of the scale

St James’s Palace is the next door neighbour seen here in the background, so convenient when Anne needed Sarah, which by all accounts was frequently.

and they even have a pet cemetery in a little glade.

Natural Selection exhibition by Artangel

Artist Andy Holden and his father Peter Holden share a fascination with birds. Peter is a bird  expert, running the RSPB’s Young Ornithologists’ Club amongst other activities.

Father and son worked on Natural Selection, an exhibition staged by Artangel which was a combination of education and art. There was much more to it than this one room but I wanted to share the seductive beauty of the eggs, so realistic yet all painstakingly made of porcelain and painted by hand.

Porcelain eggs. Photo by Caroline Banks Porcelain eggs. Photo by Caroline Banks Porcelain eggs. Photo by Caroline Banks Porcelain eggs. Photo by Caroline Banks

Olafur Eliasson room at the Monochrome exhibition, National Gallery

Olafur Eliasson shows us in the last part of Monochrome, Painting in Black & White at the National Gallery, that monochrome doesn’t automatically mean only black & white.

After a fascinating exhibition of more traditional interpretations, including some staggeringly convincing trompe l’oeil painting, you walk into a bright yellow room and everything becomes tones of that colour.

Photo by Caroline Banks Photo by Caroline BanksThe ceiling is lined with sodium yellow monofrequency lamps, a colour that suppresses all others.
Photo by Caroline Banksand even my pillar box red jacket cannot resist the influence of the shadow-free light.Photo by Caroline Banks

Everything at Once exhibition at 180 Strand , London

The Lisson Gallery & The Vinyl Factory held Everything at Once at Store Studios recently to mark its anniversary with this exhibition. Of the 24 artists included I’ll mention 2: Richard Long with Pelopennese Line, a temporary mural made directly on the wall.Pelopennese Line by Richard Long. Photo by Caroline BanksPelopennese Line by Richard Long. Photo by Caroline BanksAl Arabia Al Madfuna III by Wael Shawky had me transfixed; here are a few stills from the film where the production in negative created a mythical and dreamlike atmosphere whilst  the text dealt with history, estrangement and, at times, horror.Still from Al Araba Al Madfuna III by Wael Shawky Photo by Caroline Banks Still from Al Araba Al Madfuna III by Wael Shawky Photo by Caroline BanksStill from Al Araba Al Madfuna III by Wael Shawky Photo by Caroline Banks Still from Al Araba Al Madfuna III by Wael Shawky Photo by Caroline Banks

Makers seen at Made London

Artists and designers have and always will be, inspired by nature. These two makers, seen at Made London, are a case in point.

Bridget Bailey’s  exquisite interpretation of bird eggs made from textiles and feathers caught my eye, quite a change from her earlier insects and moths (see a previous post)

Bridget Bailey. Photo by Caroline BanksBridget Bailey. Photo by Caroline BanksBridget Bailey. Photo by Caroline Banks
Bridget Bailey. Photo by Caroline Banks

as did the work of another textile artist, Amanda Cobbett, who is completely obsessed with nature. Her highly reflective display boxes didn’t permit decent photos of these fungi so please visit her website for better imagery
Embroidery by Amanda Cobbett. Photo by Caroline Banks Embroidery by Amanda Cobbett. Photo by Caroline Banks Embroidery by Amanda Cobbett. Photo by Caroline Banks

And those red dots below are from my camera, not some aberration on the mushroom.

Embroidery by Amanda Cobbett. Photo by Caroline BanksTo see more of Bridget’s work, visit Clockwork Studio’s Christmas Open Studios 8th – 10th December

The ladies’ powder room at Claridge’s hotel, London

Ah, Claridge’s! I was seduced by this hotel from the moment I stepped in and just had to share the glamour of this room, too grand to be just the loos and reminiscent of those black & white movies where the heroines retreat to powder their nose.

Claridges hotel. Photo by Caroline Banks

It’s an Art Deco joy with painted walls, plaster jewel-encrusted pillars, bevelled edge mirrors

Claridges hotel. Photo by Caroline Banks

marquetry toilet doors with glass handlesClaridges hotel. Photo by Caroline Banks

and the diffused lighting fixtures of Lalique.

Claridges hotel. Photo by Caroline Banks Claridges hotel. Photo by Caroline Banks

Royal Society of Chemistry, London

Open House London gives us, the public, the opportunity to visit buildings of all kinds not normally open to general view during the rest of the year.

One of the venues I visited this year was the Royal Society of Chemistry where I wasn’t expecting to find these two contemporary stained glass windows within the complex of Burlington House.

Designed by Laurence Lee (who also designed the windows for Coventry Cathedral) they are a memorial to Nobel Prize Laureate Cyril Hinshelwood and represent alchemy and chemistry. The four traditional elements: red for fire, clear for air, blue for water and green for earth are all there along with the many chemical variants and combinations.

Stained Glass Art at RSC. Photo Caroline Banks

White Noise at The Crypt, London

The Crypt Gallery is to be found below the huge church on Euston Road and is an atmospheric warren of spaces to explore.

White Noise, an artists’ collective, showed there recently including Annamarie Dzendrowskyj  whose oil paintings evoke a sense of mystery and uncertainty Hanna ten Doornkaat has been featured in my posts before – her scribbled, scratched and scraped pieces telling of unknown histories This large canvas by Sandra Beccarelli  intrigued me with its systematic arrangement of marks both on and in the canvas.