Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

NO TAV

March 16, 2012

I recently visited Milan to attend an eyewear trade show, and managed to take one afternoon in which to have a look around the city. One thing that became immediately obvious was just how much graffiti covered any available surface. It reminded me a little of the outskirts of Paris, but the difference being that in Paris they seem to have been able to keep more of a control over it as you get closer to the centre.

One phrase / statement that I kept spotting was “NO TAV”. Without a clue what it meant, it became something that I started to look out for and become more interested in. Sometimes it was scrawled very quickly on the open surface, others had a little more time taken over them with larger block letters, and eventually I began to notice stickers too. Realising that “TAV” must be something bigger than some teenager putting a tag up, I consulted our old friend Google to see if it could shed any light on the matter. It would appear that NO TAV is actually a huge movement [beginning in the middle of 1995] fighting against Government plans to build a high-speed train link between Turin, and Lyon in France. There seem to be various reasons as to why the group are against the building of the train. one is that it is felt it would be uneconomical due to the high cost. Another is felt that it is simply being used as a profit-making scheme for the large shareholders investing in the programme, as they will primarily be the ones benefitting. Other reasons site noise pollution, environmental damage and disruption to water. There is an official NO TAV website [http://www.notav.info/] and various other propaganda websites discussing the subject, but as with all of these types of protests it seems that violence has become a by-product of the campaign.

This is from Italy Calling, posted in the summer of last year:

After a crowded torchlight march on the night between June 26th and 27th, the Free Republic of the Maddalena in Piedmont was brutally assaulted by a full-scale military operation performed by around 2000 forces that turned the place into a battle site: teargas thrown at eye level, bulldozers and heavy vehicles used to evict the camp, water jets against protesters, beatings, tents and equipment smashed up. In the nearby town of Venaria, a riot police vehicle on its way to the site ran over and killed “by mistake” an elderly woman. Demonstrations, pickets and several other initiatives were organised all over Italy to show solidarity with the NO TAV movement that for years has been fighting against the construction of a high-speed train line between Turin and Lyon in France. A national demo was called out for today 3rd July, and  it’s still going on as I’m writing this.  It’s about 8.40pm and it’s difficult to have a clear idea of what’s been happening at the Maddalena today, but what is clear is that there have been hundreds of people injured on both sides (but it’s only one side that I care about). Police have been using rubber bullets and at least one young man is seriously injured after being shot in the face. Protesters have compared the military operation to the repression in Palestine…

Personally, I know much too little in order to have an opinion on the movement, I just find it interesting that noticing two words on a wall led me to the complex political web touched upon above.


The Museum of Broken Relationships

August 25, 2011

Last night I went to see the recently opened exhibition titled ‘The Museum of Broken Relationships’ hosted by the Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden. Set across two venues, the exhibition is put simply a collection, or documentation of failed relationships through symbolic items / artefacts. As sombre as this may sound, it made for quite an interesting evening, with a very varied mix of items displayed, each with equally varied stories about what the symbolised of the ruined relationship. Some items seemed to be there in order to get a laugh, but others were genuinely touching [for example one lady donated her entire album of Wedding photographs…]. All items are donated for free by individuals, either anonymously or with as much detail as they are willing to go into.

From the official website: “The Museum of Broken Relationships grew from a traveling exhibition revolving around the concept of failed relationships and their ruins. Unlike ‘destructive’ self-help instructions for recovery from failed loves, the Museum offers a chance to overcome an emotional collapse through creation: by contributing to the Museum’s collection. Conceptualized in Croatia by Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić, the Museum has since toured internationally, amassing an amazing collection. Although often colored by personal experience, local culture and history, the exhibits presented here form universal patterns offering us to discover them and feel the comfort they can bring. Hopefully they can also inspire our personal search for deeper insights and strengthen our belief in something more meaningful than random suffering.”

Admittedly, there is an air of ‘teenage angst’ surrounding some of the items, but if you want to see something different of an evening, I definitely suggest a visit. it is open until 10pm most evenings, and runs until September 4th.

More information here.

 

Currently Reading

May 28, 2011

20110528-195844.jpg

Rotary Watches

December 27, 2010

This Christmas I was very fortunate to receive a ‘Rotary’ watch from my parents. I feel that this is quite a significant gift, as I have a great love for timepieces, but have never been able to afford anything of any quality or that will have much longevity. In addition, my Dad is not really the type to accessorise let’s say, but one thing he does have a fondness for is a good watch. To me, this adds an intangible value to the watch, knowing that it was selected by my parents.

The watch itself is so elegant, with a dark brown leather strap and a cream-based face featuring an almost Deco patterning to it. The overall aesthetic is simple, and minimal – perfect.

A little information on Rotary Watches:

Rotary Watches were established in 1895 in the Swiss town of La Chaux de Fonds. Within 12 years, the first British Rotary Office opened, to allow the import of the watches to Britain, and the now famous “winged-wheel” logo swiftly followed in 1925. In 1940, Rotary were appointed as the official watch supplier to the British Army. The company is now managed by Robert Dreyfuss, who is the Great Grandson of the original founder, Moise Dreyfuss.

Prior to this, I had been wearing a Smiths “Empire” watch (Made in Great Britain) from the 1960s. As you can see below, she is now looking a little worse for wear and anyone who has spent any quiet time with me will also attest to the fact that the wind-up mechanism produces the loudest ticking known to man.

I know that this new watch is something that I will truly cherish and last me for, hopefully, the rest of my life!

Sunlens, Creative Focus

October 1, 2010

With Linda Farrow, I recently attended SILMO Optical Fair in Paris. In amongst the very male-dominated stands and displays etc I found a presentation set-up by the Carl Zeiss company to try to offer an original approach to eyewear design. Zeiss have partnered with Istituto Marangoni (Europe’s leading Fashion and Design School) to offer new ideas that explore the characteristics of the new sunlens diffusion line ‘Optics by Car Zeiss Vision’ – colour, shape, material and coatings. The creative focus is directed on the lens – the very heart of a sunglass. I collected postcards from the presentation, which give a brief idea of the ideas shown – I think that the design utilising an aperture is genius – there is a sliding mechanism to the top of the frame which actually allows the lens to open and close.

For more, have a look at http://sunlenscreativefocus.blogspot.com – the site is rather basic, but there is a video which gives a good insight into the creative focus.

Advantage Ashe

September 21, 2010

Whilst I’m on the theme of glasses, I also spotted these lying around the office, “Advantage Ashe Tennis Glasses”. Linda Farrow are currently expanding their office space, and this involved the clearing out of a space which has been used solely for storage for the past few decades. These glasses appeared during part of the clear out. I am literally amazed at the condition they are in – box, tags, registration certificate – all pristine.

Arthur Ashe was a tennis player in the 1970s, and to date he is still the only African American man ever to win the singles at Wimbledon.  He retired from the sport in 1980 following heart surgery.

Dennis Sever’s House

September 5, 2010

Today I visited a place known as Dennis Sever’s House. It is quite difficult to explain exactly what the house is to someone who has not actually visited it. To try to put it simply, Dennis Sever lived in the house in the way that people alive in the early 18th Century might have lived. The house then took on a life of its own and became almost like some type of art installation – a very interactive one. Nothing seems to have been written about when Severs opened the house to the public, or who operates it today, but Severs himself passed away in 1999.

A visit today revolves around the premise that you walk into the house and interrupt a family of silk weavers, known as the Jervis family. Disturbed by your visit, they hide away, and everything is left untouched as if they had really been there. The attention to detail within the house is quite fantastic – each room is like a set piece from an elaborate painting. The thing that I found truly amazing though was the scent within each room. I am not sure how they have done it, or how they ensure that the scents are a constant each time the house is opened, but it really is a case of a smell transporting you to a different time and place.

Frustratingly, no photography is allowed, so the images below are from the official website http://www.dennissevershouse.co.uk/. The booklet photographs are from the ‘souvenir’ passed to me as I was ushered out. I came out feeling a little mixed about the whole experience. As I said above, the actual house and items within are amazing, but I found the people operating the house to be frosty to say the least. There is a slight air of pretension about the whole thing – no talking is allowed at any time whilst in the house. I see the point of this to an extent, as I often like to be silent whilst visiting things such as this, but I found the forcing of silence a little awkward. Also, no real detail is given about the house until the end of the tour, where it all sort of clicks into place. I would have preferred to have received the booklet beforehand and this may have enabled me to immerse myself in the experience slightly more.

I would definitely recommend paying it a visit – I have genuinely never been to anywhere like it in my life. The house is number 18 Folgate Street near Spitalfields Market, and entry costs £8. The house only opens on specific days at specific times, so have a look at the website if you do plan to visit.

Toe Clips

September 5, 2010

So, my bike project continues with a new set of pedals. I went for MXS pedals, on the recommendation of a friend – they’re fairly grippy, lightweight, reliable and they don’t cost the earth. The pedals that were supplied with my bike look a little like toy pedals; the casing around the spindle is plastic for one, and they didn’t offer much in the way of grip. The first photograph beneath shows the original. I also invested in some toe clips, again after speaking with a friend. London cycling is quite frantic at the quietest of times, and I want to make sure that I feel secure and in control on the roads at all time. Also, as I am riding fixed gear, I want to train myself to be able to use the gear as a method of controlling the bike in terms of speed, rather than just the actual brake and the toe clips will allow my feet enough support to be able to do that…hopefully. Now I just need to learn how to get my left foot in the clip when I move away from stationary. I cycled behind a guy on the way to work last week, and he had it down so well – one flick of the pedal and his foot was in – definitely jealous.

I chose metal clips with a brown leather trim to match my saddle and newly taped bars, and I think they really finish off the colour scheme of the bike. I also went for an almost matt grey for the outer of the pedals, rather than shiny silver as I am hoping they will disguise wear and tear a little better.

Transport for London Cycle Guides

September 5, 2010

As I’m sure is quite clear, I am pretty new to cycling on the mean streets of London, so I was pleased to find out about a the set of cycle routes that Transport for London have produced to be given away free to as many people as request them. The maps span across 14 guides, each covering a different area / borough of London. They follow on one to another, so if all 14 were placed together, you would effectively have cycle routes for the whole of London.

The guides have been written in conjunction with ‘experienced cyclists’ which hopefully means that they will have been tried and tested, and actually be useful. There are various different routes on the maps, featuring signed council organised routes, along with “quieter” streets and shortcuts. All you have to do to get the guides is call TFL on 020 7222 1234, or fill on the online form at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/11682.aspx .

There is also a ‘Mayor’s Introduction’, which is always good.

Currently Reading…

September 5, 2010