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Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Empty Chair - Antony Gormley

Doing last minute errands before flying to Bermuda tomorrow to visit family and friends, I stopped by the British Library, to see the new Antony Gormley sculpture (of Angel of the North fame) which was unveiled on Monday.

The sculpture, Witness, cast in Iron, represents the empty chair of imprisoned writers worldwide.  It was commissioned by English PEN to mark their 90th anniversary.   

Gilian Slovo, English PEN's President "It will stand as tribute to, and reminder of, those writers who, because of censorship and tyranny, are not free to go to any library either in their countries or in ours", according to the Libraries intranet.  Heavy stuff.  A good reminder, although the sculpture looks a bit abandoned in the courtyard, and I don't think anyone really looked at it.  I went inside, to ask for some info... one of the staff hadn't even seen it!  

It sits in the main courtyard, along with some other of Gormley's sculptures, Planets, which were installed in 2002.  

The British Library is one of those Brutalist (I think!) buildings you either love or hate.  It's kind of a weird one.  I can see it is trying to echo St. Pancras Hotel adjacent.  It's funny how something so relevant at the time, is so dated 50 or so years later.  Ah well.  That's design for you.  Internally the main entrance space is pretty good.  No pics though!  Library police.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Boxpark Shoreditch

London's (or even the world's) first pop-up mall opened in Shoreditch this weekend.  DJ's, rap artists, burlesque performances and free candy floss, along with 20% off at many of the shops for the opening week.  Great idea, using shipping containers as temporary stores.  The mall is going to be open for 5 years, which is pretty "pop-up" as malls go.  

Lots of scrummy food places, Amnesty International has a shop, as well as Marimekko to name a few.  My favourite was the Urbanears shop, really pared back, faceted walls with mirrors and a translucent panel at the back with projected changing light, which hid the back-of-house.

A really fun atmosphere, I am sure it will be a success.  There are rumours of a second site in London too...