If you get off the Docklands Light Railway at Gallions Reach, one stop before the end of the line to Beckton, a short walk will bring you to a new development called Royal Albert Dock, right on the river Thames and opposite London City Airport.
Bow Arts has worked with the developers to help create a soul and community to this location with RAW Labs, a purpose-built affordable studio complex with a gallery and cafe around one of the pools. It’s a wonderful place for artists to work with big skies and the light from the water. And, luxury of luxuries, the studios are heated! I’d be there in a shot if it weren’t so far away from where I live.
Sara Heywood, the recent artist in residence, was influenced by the waterside location and the proximity of London City Airport across the river. Bird life includes cormorants as well as the ubiquitous seagulls. The big birds, however, are the planes which fly directly overhead in to land. Her hide helps you identify both from its location facing the water with binoculars provided.
It’s cosy inside with views up to the flight path and there’s a handy identification chart too.I was outside when this one came over and no, I can’t tell you what type it was. there are little spyholes to see what else is going on around the hide.
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.
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.
It’s an Art Deco joy with painted walls, plaster jewel-encrusted pillars, bevelled edge mirrors
marquetry toilet doors with glass handles
and the diffused lighting fixtures of Lalique.
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.
I recently toured the newly opened Nobu Shoreditch, with interiors by StudioMica and restaurant & bar by Studio PCH
The guest rooms are obviously a bit less accessible than the public areas so I’ll concentrate on them here.
The rooms share a combination of urban brutalism (concrete ceilings and exposed services such as sprinklers) from the Shoreditch location and Japanese aesthetics of Nobu, giving this place the feel of an oasis in the city centre.
Judicious use of texture and lighting creates jewel-like points of focus. I confess to having a soft spot for the bathrooms; not only are they visually beautiful but really practical (as several guests have apparently pointed out you can tell they’ve been designed by a woman). The mirrors offer proper lighting with decent magnification and there is plenty of shelving for toiletries.
And who doesn’t love that washbasin?
This view of the courtyard garden from one of the suites gives an idea of the architecture concept by Ron Arad, implemented by Ben Adams.
This is the last of the group posts showing Abigail Bowen’s smaller paintings,
one of regular exhibitor Ali Yanya’s prints,
Clare Cutts‘ moody treescape print and
Elaine Kazimierczuk’s colourful garden paintings.