Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
This morning I went for my usual walk to nowhere and noticed once again the beautiful Metro entrances. So yes! I did what I usually do at a time like this, I whipped out my trusted camera and started clicking away...(tourist)
The beauty of Paris often resides in the most everyday objects, such as the swirlingly ornate entrances to Metro stations. Foreigners (like me) have sometimes grasped this truth more readily than Parisians. The New York Modern Art Museum bought the disused wrought-iron railings from a Metro entrance 40 years ago and displays them as a pioneering and beautiful example of art nouveau.
The Paris transport authority, the RATP, has finally recognised it has an extraordinary artistic heritage in its care. The remaining art nouveau entrances to Paris Metro stations are to be dismantled and lovingly restored, at a cost of pounds 1.4m,(pounds) over two years and rebuilt on their original sites.
Much has already been lost. An estimated 180 station entrances were constructed of wrought iron to the designs of the architect, Hector Guimard, starting with the first Metro line in 1899. Of these, only 86 remain. His most ambitious design - a fan-shaped arch of wrought iron and glass, described as "like a dragonfly opening its wings" - was used at 20 different sites. Most fell victim to the modernising ravages of the 1960s and 1970s, and the destruction was halted only in 1978, when all Guimard entrances were declared historic monuments. Just two of the arches, or pagodas, survive, at Porte Dauphine in the 16th arrondissement and at Abbesses, near Montmartre.
These and the less grand, but equally beautiful railings and signs at other sites, full of ironwork scrolls and squiggles and fronds, will be taken to the RATP workshops, scoured and sand-blasted and re-soldered where necessary. Worn sections will be replaced, copying the original manufacture.
They were made from interchangeable sections, capable of being adapted to every kind of Metro entrance,. Putting them back together will be a real jigsaw puzzle.I wish I could have helped.
The people undertaking this massive but wonderful feat have even scraped off successive layers of paint, to discover the original colour of the ironwork.The entrances had often been painted in an unflattering, dog-sick yellowy-green (not that I have anything against dog sick). They will be repainted in their original hues, dark green for leafy locations and bluey-green for street sites.
Guimard entrances have not always been prized. Even their name - edicule - is not flattering. It can also mean "public convenience". Guimard's fanciful ironwork scrolls upset conservative Parisians early in the century. One entrance, due to be placed opposite the Paris Opera, was never constructed, such was the outcry from the opera-goers of the day. Guimard resigned soon afterwards as chief architect of the then Compagnie du Metropolitain Parisien.
His work is now regarded as having been an important influence on the art nouveau movement. Two new Metro systems - one in Lisbon, and last year, the one in Mexico City - have each built a replica station entrance in the Guimard "dragonfly" style.
So there you have it..A little stroll around my new home unearths all kinds of little and big treasures...I wonder what tourist sights I'll see tomorrow?
Friday, December 26, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I felt I had to do a christmas post. So here it is. The original image shown here is called "Merry Old Santa Claus," by Thomas Nast from Harper's Weekly,published January 1, 1881.
I of course added all the other stuff.....
Merry christmas and remember to be really really nice to people in the new year (but only if they deserve it) Some people simply dont..
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
So what are these strange little huts-houses-garden sheds??...Well if you guessed one of the 3 you would be wrong. In the late thirties and early forties the French government encouraged people to exercise, to get outside and take the sun and breath.In fact people were starting to see mind and body as something one should take care of...Anyway, on this little island just north west of Paris, all these little huts(about 250) were built by the French government, a kind of chalet. People would go to the island and rent these little chalets, and after taking the sun and stretching and swimming and basically getting fitter, they would take naps and rest in the cute little summer houses. All this sounds wonderful, an in fact it was. Wonderful except for one very important little detail. Asbestos! Thats right Asbestos... All the little chalets were built with this deadly fiber. Just to remind you what this is (The asbestos minerals include chrysotile ( white asbestos) and several kinds of amphibole. The danger to health caused by breathing in highly carcinogenic asbestos particles has led to stringent control of its use) None of this was known then of course...
So what are these chalets used for now? Well, just about everything, from garden sheds to little huts to weekend chalets. Thats right, people still use some of them as there little hut away from home...I photographed maybe 50 of these structures and I held my breath most of the time.So much for taking in the fresh air. One of them is up for sale. So how much is this deadly structure going for? Well the chalet and a little section of land will cost you 9,000 euros...Gasmask not included.
Monday, December 22, 2008
I love this story, I suppose because I'm in the business of looking and looking and looking. A British inventor asked himself a simple question 'What if it were possible, he thought, to make a pair of glasses which, instead of requiring an optician, could be "tuned" by the wearer to correct his or her own vision? Might it be possible to bring affordable spectacles to millions who would never otherwise have them'?
The British inventor has embarked on a quest that is breathtakingly ambitious, but which he insists is achievable - to offer glasses to a billion of the world's poorest people by 2020.
Some 30,000 pairs of his spectacles have already been distributed in 15 countries, but to Silver (the inventor) that is very small beer. Within the next year the now-retired professor and his team plan to launch a trial in India which will, they hope, distribute 1 million pairs of glasses.
The target, within a few years, is 100 million pairs annually. With the global need for basic sight-correction, by his own detailed research, estimated at more than half the world's population, Silver sees no reason to stop at a billion.
If the scale of his ambition is dazzling, at the heart of his plan is an invention which is engagingly simple.
Silver has devised a pair of glasses which rely on the principle that the fatter a lens the more powerful it becomes. Inside the device's tough plastic lenses are two clear circular sacs filled with fluid, each of which is connected to a small syringe attached to either arm of the spectacles.
The wearer adjusts a dial on the syringe to add or reduce amount of fluid in the membrane, thus changing the power of the lens. When the wearer is happy with the strength of each lens the membrane is sealed by twisting a small screw, and the syringes removed. The principle is so simple, the team has discovered, that with very little guidance people are perfectly capable of creating glasses to their own prescription.
I wish I could help this man in his quest, maybe I can...we will see...and see and see and see
Sunday, December 21, 2008
After a day of shooting (sunday) the new pool (when I say NEW, I mean the new 'old' abandoned Deco swimming pool) just north east of Paris, I came across this road sign.It was the perfect balance of a man made object and nature (harmony) .Not much to say really except it was a very very dull day as far as the weather goes and the photos were very very flat (I cant use any of them.BUT!! this road sign and the tree made it all worth while......Another lesson in how nature will always conquer over man...maybe harmony is the wrong word.
Friday, December 19, 2008
I may stand alone in this thought, but I love the Paris metro. I have been photographing it for many many years (22 actually) Just snap shots, things of interest. This last year I have been looking at it in another way 'A Project ' kind of way. I have shot some very majestic shots that I think I'm going to make them into something...(stay tuned)
The photo above was shot last night on my way home from a Peter Brook exhibition. It was late and nobody was around to ruin the shot..This photo is just ordinary but I think it's time to look at (in my opinion) the beautiful metro again with a closer eye and a camera ...oh and a very warm coat...and maybe a shot of cognac.
Monday, December 15, 2008
I thought, after the shoe throwing entry (last blog, see below) we needed something a little lighter..Not many people know this but I collect what is known as 'dirty postcards ' or saucy postcards'(WOW! I hear you all saying 'What a shock') These are very very English and are basically badly drawn cartoons with a really stupid naughty sentence written somewhere on the card (as you can see from the example above) I have been collecting them for years...It suddenly hit me today, as I pondered through my extensive collection to ask the question WHY? Well I cant really answer why I collect them but I'll give you all a little history about these cards....o.k. here goes..
Saucy Seaside Postcards are a peculiar tradition but are synonymous with holidays along the British coast. They typify the quirky humour of the British which often revolves around sex or bodily functions.
With the English invention of seaside holidays having been popularised by the Victorians, the promenades and piers started to see stalls selling seaside novelties. Seaside postcards with bawdy captions first appeared in the early 20th Century and became extremely popular during the First World War.
Characters would mostly be well endowed young women, well built older women, hen pecked husbands and red nosed drunks. Subjects usually involved either the beach, hospitals, nudist camps or indeed anything where a sexual content could be included. The predominant feature being double entendre (A word or phase having a double meaning especially when the second meaning is risqué) and spoonerisms (A transposition of the initial sounds of two words).
If you are still awake after the brief history, I will tell you that last time I was in a seaside town that use to have an abundance of these cards (southend on sea) I looked for them and looked for them...Guess what? They are all slowly disappearing.I blame the internet. So maybe its time to dust off my seaside vulgarity and frame them and hang them in a place of honor for all to see ..then again.
P.S. Most of the cards have something written on the back and that something is all rather similar from card to card.It says something like this...'Having a wonderful time. Little bobby threw up all over harry but we did laugh.It hasn't stopped raining.See you next tuesday, wish you were here...
I wont often post political items here on my page but this was too good to be true. Why couldn't someone in America have thrown their shoes at him earlier? Maybe it could be a new trend. Maybe wherever he goes, people of all ages could just take off there shoes and throw them at him.Or carry a spare pair just incase they see him. This (shoe thrower) man really is my new hero. It took a lot of courage to do what he did. I will follow this story and see what becomes of him, and when I say 'him' I mean my new show throwing friend...My Hero.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
"After struggling with the thought of another holiday season. Philip, slowly, but with the air of certainty, slipped into a festive mood with the exuberance of a party animal."
One day I'll post all my christmas cards from the last 20 years. This years card is a little tame by my sick standards , but I thought given the world climate (and I don't just mean the weather) I would be nice. Also as I am writing this, I feel like death. A lovely flu I picked up in Miami, I'm sure from all the coughing spluttering art people who sneezed in my face at Art Basel......Anyway, happy holidays and all that stuff and I hope you remember to give give give. REMEMBER It's better to give than receive. Well thats what we are led to believe.
Time for a hot lemon drink with honey......although a martini sounds pretty good about now. Maybe a honey lemon martini with olives and aspirin. CHEERS!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
When people I know come to Paris, to do what people do when they come to Paris, I do what anybody living in Paris would do, I take them to the best restaurant in town, My local Chinese. WHAT!!!!!! I hear you thinking...Well, I understand your reaction, but you might just be be wrong. I know there are amazing places here to eat, and trust me, if I sold my apartment and took out a huge loan, I would most likely visit them at least twice a year. But they would not even come close to my beloved Chinese place.The food is all cooked to order, the best rose wine ever and smiling faces served fresh with there version of a kind of sake. As a special treat , the sake cups have a photo of a naked woman at the bottom (or a man if you are a woman or gay) It's such a lovely way to end a cold evening, Great food and a naked woman swimming in alcohol ....OH!!!! and Paris, everywhere.
Where is this fantastic restaurant I hear you saying? Ask me and I will tell you.If and when you go, tell them the Englishman that stares in his sake cup looking like a lost soul sent you.
Monday, December 8, 2008
I was asked to produce a small 3-5 minute film about my work to be shown at the Wolfsonian exhibition 'Thoughts on Democracy' during Art Basel 2008. O.K. enogh words.....roll the film (popcorn not included)
Friday, December 5, 2008
O.K. O.K. I know what you are thinking.What is philip doing!! This illustration is too bright and happy and nothing like his 'real work' Well you would be right thinking this, and as much as it was fun to do I now crave for a darker me (don't worry, dark lurks just beneath my skin) A change is as good as a rest they say, so consider this illustration a little rest, almost a nap... It's for The Miami Herald travel section.You get to see it before the readers of the paper will......o.k. now where did I put my tube of dark paint?
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
This Saturday I have to present 3-5 minutes all about me and my work. To the left is the flyer for the event (click to make larger)... It should be fun.I made a very little film (which I will show on my blog in the next week or so) It seems very strange to cram all those years of work into such a small time...Oh well. I'ts late so I had better brush my teeth and go to bed. It takes me longer to brush my teeth than it will to show 6 years of my work in my film.....and I have done a lot of work.
P.S.I love the fact that my name is larger than Martin Parr