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Sunday, 29 December 2013

London Monopoly (20): Regent Street

Continuing my journey around the London version of the Monopoly board with Regent Street, the first property in the Green Set.
The beautiful curve of Regent Street seen as you enter from Piccadilly Circus, London
Every one of the buildings in Regent Street is at least Grade II listed. This means that for Historical or Architectural interest no building can be altered or demolished without permission - which is usually not obtainable. Sometimes only the façade is protected and internal alterations can be made.
The street is one of the first examples of Town Planning as it cuts a swathe through the otherwise straight streets of the West One (W1) postcode. After the Great Fire of London, in 1666, there was a move to plan the reconstruction of the medieval city but it took one hundred and fifty years before this first attempt took place!
Named after the Prince Regent (later George IV) it was laid out by the great architect John Nash and completed in 1825. Now it is a high prestige shopping and business street in one of the most expensive parts of London.
Hamley's Toy Shop, Regent Street, London
Hamley's,who style themselves
as "the world's most famous toy shop", have been in Regent Street since 1881 but were established in High Holborn, London in 1760 and there is a large Apple Store there too.
Regent Street is halfway through a 20 year £1 billion investment scheme and is continuously being improved and upgraded. 
With 2 km of shop-fronts it rivals Fifth Avenue and the Champs Elysée for high prestige shopping.
Just as in the game of Monopoly, the rents in Regent Street are incredibly high.
The Apple Store, Regent Street, London
Wishing everyone who visits this site(about 100 unique visitors per day) a peaceful and preposterous (sic) 2014.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Painting of the Month (40) Dec 2013: Grayson Perry

OK, so it's not a painting exactly but.....
This is a decorated vase made by the British artist Grayson Perry who, regrettably, is more well-known for his cross-dressing than for his art. It is titled 'Jane Austen in E17'. E17 is the first part of the unfashionable north-east London postcode of the artist's studio.

Perry will often juxtapose discordant themes and ideas and this example is typical. Obviously it is beautiful and appealing to the eye with it's depiction of genteel and elegant late eighteenth-century ladies carved into a Chinese style vase. However, a closer inspection will reveal the use of photo-printed images behind the ladies depicting contemporary violence in the local area of his studio.
The artist himself is a very interesting character. He is a married family man from the English county of Essex (same as me!) who has created an alter ego personality named Clare who is sometimes depicted in his artwork and provides a way for him to express certain facets of his life and personal history. Perry says that his female identity matches his low self-esteem because women are often seen as 'second-class' and so are potters, his chosen medium as an artist. Born in 1960, he came to public awareness after winning the important Turner prize in 2003 and this year (2013) he delivered the prestigious BBC Reith lecture series which was hugely enjoyable; he is a very open, honest and funny man. Definitely 'first class'!