Giorgio Morandi at the Estorick Collection

Estorick Collection, Canonbury, Islington

We managed to catch the last day of the Giorgio Morandi exhibition at the brilliant Estorick Collection in Canonbury, Islington.

Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation

“For the first time, the entire collection of 50 paintings and works on paper by the artist belonging to Italy’s Magnani-Rocca Foundation will be on show in the UK.
Best known for his enigmatic still lifes, Morandi is today widely recognised as one of the most significant figures of modern Italian art – and certainly one of the most beloved. Often considered to have been something of a recluse, he was in fact at the centre of contemporary artistic debate and actively engaged with many of the most important national trends and movements of his day, from Futurism to Metaphysical Art. His distinctive mature style is renowned for its masterful treatment of light, exquisite tonal subtleties and exploration of the boundary between abstract and figurative imagery.”

Giorgio Morandi at the Estorick Collection
Giorgio Morandi at the Estorick Collection
Estorick Collection - Giorgio Morandi
Estorick Collection, Canonbury, Islington London

We discovered the Estorick when living in Highbury in the late-90s and instantly fell in love with it.

Estorick Collection, Canonbury, Islington London
Giorgio Morandi at the Estorick Collection
Giorgio Morandi at the Estorick Collection

I’d first properly encountered the work of Giorgio Morandi when living in Modena, Italy and visiting an exhibition in an art gallery located in one of the palaces of the Este. Morandi had lived and worked his whole life in nearby Bologna, a city I also came to develop a deep affection for.

Walking the Churches of the City of London

The City of London once had 108 churches – today only 39 of them remain. In 2021, I embarked on a YouTube series to walk between these remaining churches and pick up traces of the numerous lost churches of the City of London, and the few that exist as partial ruins or churchyards. It’s been a magical experience.

Some of the churches date back to the Middle Ages, others contain much older secrets in their foundations and crypts. They link us back into the deep history of London. They link us from the earliest Christian communities in the City through the Anglo-Saxon period, the Norman Conquest to the Great Fire of London when a number of Churches were destroyed. However from the ashes arose the majestic architecture of Sir Christopher Wren who wrote his name across the City.

the spire of St Botolph Bishopsgate - City of London Churches walk
Tower of St Dunstan in the East - City of London Churches walk

My most recent episode in the series picked up the trail at St Margaret Pattens (first documented in 1067) with its magnificent Wren spire. Close by we encounter St Mary at Hill ‘London’s best kept secret’ before walking a cobbled lane to the serene garden in the shell of St Dunstan in the East, destroyed in the 1941 during the Blitz. Our walk then takes us past the Monument to the Great Fire which points the way to our final church, St Magnus the Martyr which once occupied one of the most prominent positions in medieval London, aligned with the old London Bridge, linking Southwark to the City.

St Dunstan in the East - City of London Churches walk

I’ve now walked 37 of the 39 churches of the City but my church crawling won’t end here. I’ll continue haunting the sites of those lost churches and the indelible mark they’ve left on the streets of the Square Mile.

You can watch the whole series here

Watch my walk along the City of London’s lost river Walbrook.

Stumbling across a Lost River in the Lea Valley London

A sunny Bank Holiday walk from Blackhorse Lane Walthamstow beside the Banbury Reservoir then onto the Lea Navigation at the North Circular. We then follow the Lea through Enfield until we pick up the Mossops Creek near Brimsdown and cross Mossops Creek footbridge. The Mossops Creek was dug by gravel extraction company Mosses and Co in the 1890s, presumably to link their works with the Lea Navigation.

Jonas Mekas in Paris

Re:Voir Film Gallery, Paris
Re:Voir 43 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, Paris

Sat reading Jonas Mekas’ A Dance With Fred Astaire in the garden sun. I open randomly on his account of a visit to Paris in 1964 following the controversy surrounding the banned screening of Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures at the International Experimental Film Competition in Belgium. I love the image of Jonas Mekas in Paris with his wind-up 16mm Bolex and so went searching for any of his Paris films.

For some time I had been thinking about doing something with my Paris footage, of which I have many many hours… I spent some three months going through my Paris footage and I managed to reduce it to the length you will be seeing, two hours and 39 minutes. It was very very hard to do so. I have so many friends in Paris, so many memories — and it’s all on video.
So this is my love letter to Paris. To its streets, to the river Seine, to its cafes, bistros, bars, to the jambon de Paris, and, especially, to all of you, my Paris friends!
This movie is also my tribute to the memory of the Paris of Gertrude Stein and Hemingway. And a tribute to all the poets and philosophers of Paris who made me fall in love with this city. I love you, Paris!

– Jonas Mekas announcing the premiere of My Paris Movie in 2011

Unfortunately, My Paris Movie (2011) doesn’t appear to be available to view online. However, I noticed that it’s distributed by the essential experimental film label Re:Voir. I stumbled upon on the Re:Voir Film Gallery in Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin on a recent visit to Paris with Heidi. We were taking our final stroll before heading back to Gare du Nord for the train back to London.

Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, Paris
Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin
Passage Jouffroy, Paris
Heidi in Passage Jouffroy

It feels like there are potent signs that I need to head back to Paris for a visit to Re:Voir when it’s actually open and I’m not bound for the Eurostar.

Watch – A Wander through Paris (2022)

John Smith and the Leytonstone Road Protests in NLR

M11 Link Road, Leytonstone

There’s an excellent blog on the New Left Review website by David Anderson about the films of Leytonstone artist John Smith and the M11 Link Road protests of the early 90s.

“The Link Road protest nevertheless attracted a broad church of supporters, engaging them in a project that, as the Aufheben group put it, aimed not just to stop ‘this one road’ but to create ‘a climate of autonomy, disobedience and resistance’. This included not only local residents and veterans of other road protests, but also a substantial number of artists living in and around Claremont Road. Their presence contributed to a year-long ‘festival’. Throughout 1994, the street was blocked to cars and turned into a public outdoor living room, just as protesters were busy burrowing underneath the houses’ actual living rooms, constructing a fortress that would be difficult for police and bailiffs to dismantle …

The result was, according to McCreery, a space with ‘no formal social organization’ in which ‘every moment of every day amounted to a political act’. Even if he doubts how much ‘radical French theory’ the protesters were actually reading, their activities ‘probably amounted to the most complete expression of situationist techniques ever seen in Britain’.”