BLOG - Shell #a

More ephemera for the collection. This time a handsome guide from the Viewing Gallery on the 25th Floor of Shell Centre in London (317 feet above sea level).

I don’t know a great deal about the Shell Centre other than that it was one of the tallest buildings in London when it was finished in 1961. Although thanks to this guide I do now know that the building is “351 feet high, just 14 feet lower than the cross of St Paul’s Cathedral across the river” and that at the time the guide was printed was “the largest office building in Europe”.

The guide comes with some fine pictorial guides of the various views from the 25th floor. Views which don’t include 20 Fenchurch Street, 8 Walworth Road or the second-tallest free-standing structure in the UK (go Emley Moor!) that is currently found at 32 London Bridge Street.

My how times have changed.

The view South:BLOG - Shell #b
BLOG - Shell #c

The view North West:BLOG - Shell #eBLOG - Shell #d

Would have been my dad’s birthday today.

Happy birthday dad.

Outsider Art


More art.

This time in the grounds of Houghton Hall, built for the first British Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole and pleasingly only a short distance from where Mrs Weir and I spend our weekends (for clarification it’s also where we spend our weeks).

Now owned by the 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley (David to his friends), the Hall and it’s surrounding parkland are home to a number of pieces of contemporary sculpture from the likes of Rachel Whiteread, Richard Long, Phillip King, Zhan Wang and James Turrell.

Highlight of what’s on show is still Skyspace by James Turrell which I absolutely adored on my first visit. And I’m glad to find that on our return visit my love for it remains undiminished.

BLOG - Resident Exhibition#4

It’s not often I travel to Peterborough for the sake of art. In fact it’s not often I travel to Peterborough for the sake of anything, even though it’s the city most accessible to us at Weir HQ. That’s maybe being impossibly harsh to the “worst place in Britain not to have a car” (according to the Campaign for Better Transport), however if there is joy to be taken from the city it’s often well hidden.

So Resident a new exhibition by artists Marc Atkinson, Jessie Brennan and Matt Lewis at the City Gallery looked like a good reason to return, and more importantly was one that had successfully appeared on my radar.

First things first, if you make it along to the City Gallery do persist. When I arrived on Saturday morning I was told the exhibition was closed as the Museum (within which the Gallery sits) was having a special events day. I expressed my disappointment and was told that even if I wanted to see it I’d have to pay. Sensing some confusion as to what was and what was not available to see I happily paid the entrance fee (evidently not something everybody does) then wandered slowly round to the Gallery to find it open as normal. As I said the joys in Peterborough are well hidden.

The exhibition sees the three artists exploring, in very different ways, the tensions between the people living in the city and the rapid development that has surrounded them since Peterborough was designated a New Town in 1967 (which is a bit confusing because according to a popular internet based encyclopaedia it’s been a city since 1541). Jessie Brennan uses cyanotypes and recorded voices in her work around the city’s ‘community growing project’, Matt Lewis uses only sound recordings in his ongoing installation that considers the present and the future of Peterbough and photographer Marc Atkinson uses pictures and film documenting the edgeland landscape of the city.

I hugely enjoyed the work of all three of the artists involved in Resident, this is a really fine exhibition which extends well beyond what’s contained within the gallery. However I was particularly taken with the work of Marc Atkinson and happily sat through the the sixty minute film he’s produced as part of the project – which sees his images of the edgelands cut with fascinating archive footage of those planning the expansion of the city, which in turn sit against audio recordings of those who live amongst the vision now realised. There’s a short excerpt you can view over here, however I really hope he makes it more readily available to those less successful than me at gaining entry to the gallery, because it’s a really great piece of work.

BLOG - Along The Outskirts#1
BLOG - Along The Outskirts#2
BLOG - Along The Outskirts#3

If you’re not a resident of (or even local to) the flatlands then I should probably point you to the Along the Outskirts project website, which I shall no doubt investigate further over the next few days. There’s also an exhibition catalogue which you can buy from the site here that looks well worth adding to the collection, especially as it appears to have some kind of contribution from writer and social historian Ken Worpole.

The exhibition runs until the 28th August so whilst there may not be many reasons to visit Peterborough as a rule, there’s at least one reason to visit until then.

UPDATE: I couldn’t find this when I scribbled the above down last night, however I’ve eventually located it, so here is a programme on the exhibition recently broadcast over on ResonanceFM, it’s an hour long but well well worth your time. If features interviews with all three of the artists concerned, with a particularly interesting conversation with Jessie Brennan on her time at The Green Backyard (which sounds like an additional reason to visit Peterborough). Would love to have heard more on the discussion around “imperfect spaces”, and thanks to her reference to Doreen Massey’s assertion of “place being a constellation of social connections” I heading off in a whole number of directions.

BLOG - Groundwork

News of a new art gallery opening in my hometown is something to be celebrated, it’s not a common occurrence.

Reporting on the news last week the local press seemed less convinced.

“Visitors to the new GroundWork gallery in Lynn will be forgiven for doing a double-take as they come through the front door. For there on the newly-painted white walls is a huge brown stain, which at first glance looks like the departing builders have had a mishap.”

The “huge brown stain” is actually an original piece by Richard Long, one of his series of “thrown splash works” created using mud and made “spontaneously on gallery walls and floors”, (with the mud in question coming from the river which sits a few metres from the gallery’s front doors).

A further piece in today’s paper continues with the theme of damning with (very) faint praise – “Freshly painted and bursting onto the Purfleet scene* is a bright new gallery displaying the work of local and internationally renowned artists and as part of the launch there is a new piece created in mud by an artist which has been commissioned specifically, I imagine, to provoke a response from visitors.”

With the inference being that provoking a response is somehow a bad thing.

Quiet why we want art that doesn’t provoke a response seems a little lost on the writer, who goes on to proudly tell us that they previously found themselves “almost incandescent with disbelief at the sight of people worshiping at the shrine of Damien Hirsts’s fish tank full of dead shark or eulogising over the meaning of Tracey Emin’s tragic camping installation”.

As it happens the gallery are quite clear about what they want to achieve (although perhaps the local press have taken umbrage at the missing apostrophe in their promotional material), and the opening exhibition ‘Sunlight and Gravity’ with works by Roger Ackling and Richard Long seems a pretty decent first effort.

Here’s hoping for more of the same.

BLOG - Richard Long

*To clarify ‘the Purfleet scene’ isn’t some impossibly outré collective, in this instance the writer is referring to a particular part of my hometown. That said if anyone wants to join me in creating said scene please apply at the usual address.

BLOG - 8

I’m all for marking the days that pass, however I feel a bit sheepish in celebrating eight years of digyourfins given my lackadaisical approach in the last few months, I blame the fact that 2016 hasn’t exactly encouraged positivity so far.

Still onwards and upwards eh?


“Opinionated weather forecasters telling me it’s going to be a miserable day, miserable to who? I quite like a bit of drizzle, so stick to the facts.”

Like Nigel Blackwell, who wrote the lines above, I’ve always been a little bemused that meteorologists deviate from the scientific so quickly and easily – because I too enjoy a bit of drizzle.

So today seems as good a day as ever to revisit Melissa Harrison’s wonderful short book, Rain – Four Walks in English Weather, in which she takes, well, four walks in the English weather.

“The air is soft and clear but the day’s rain continues to sink silently into the fields and fens. The land here is so flat it will hold on to the water for a long time before it drains north-east towards the Wash; but drain it will: first into the peat, then by degrees into the field drains and lodes, and to the tributaries, passing through pumping stations and locks and sluices as it goes, then into the River Witham, the Welland, the Nene or the Great Ouse, and eventually into the chill North Sea.”

As well as the four beautifully written walks she’s also gathered together 100 Words Concerning Rain which appear at the end of the book and allows me to confirm that today we have experienced a land-lash (high winds and heavy rain), a basking (a drenching in heavy shower) and for most of the day it’s been hoying it doon (raining heavily).