Tessellation Appreciation

Postman’s Park

The Memorial for Heroic Self Sacrifice is one of London’s least-known monuments. Hidden in Postman’s Park, a patch of green behind St Paul’s Cathedral, the Memorial was established in 1900 by the painter and philanthropist George Frederic Watts.

Offering an insight into the dangers of everyday Victorian life in London, each plaque made from ornate ceramic tiles commemorates the lives of ordinary folk lost through acts of bravery and heroism.

The memorial also the setting for many scenes in the 2004 film ‘Closer’. SPOILER ALERTA key plot element in the film revolves around Postman’s Park, in which it is revealed that the character Alice Ayres (played by Natalie Portman) has in fact fabricated her identity based on Ayres’ tablet on the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, which she had read at the time of her first meeting with Dan Woolf (Jude Law) at the start of the film.

In 1972, the memorial received Grade II listed status but the most recent memorial was in 2009 for a reprographic operator called Leigh Pitt sadly drowned in 2007 jumping into the canal to save a little boy, who fortunately survived.

Today, if the hustle and bustle of the city is too much, take a stroll into Postman’s Park and enjoy a moment’s peace, whilst sparing a thought for the ordinary men and women of London who bravely gave their lives for others.

Regent’s Canal, Islington N1 (part 1)

According to the blurb, these mosaics made by the pupils at Hanover Primary School working with artists Carina Wyatt and Cathy Ludlow in partnership with Cally Arts and the Islington local2global project.

Why? To celebrate the diversity of people, past and present, in the Islington area. Slightly schmaltzy but nevertheless a fine example of mosaics as public art.

Camden Town

I grew up and was schooled in north London, so Camden Town played a big part of my adolescence during the 90’s. For many kids of my generation, grunge may have died along with Kurt Cobain, but Brit Pop gave us a new role model and hope for our future.

Back then only the rich kids had MTV, and there was no internet, but hanging out in Camden on a Saturday afternoon gave us all the popular culture we could handle. The slightest suggestion that Morrisey, Brett Anderson and Jarvis Cocker were a regulars in the Edinboro Castle was enough to keep us coming back week after week. And the on-going debate over who was better, Blur* or Oasis, can still get a thirty-something on their soap box today.

Dodgy noodles, bootleg cassette tapes, sterling silver nose studs and army surplus gear - these were the accessories that made us feel like maybe one day we might grow up to be Graham Coxon or Louise Wener. Or at least do something of note with our lives.

Nearly 15 years later I find myself back in Camden working for a PR agency just a stone’s throw from the tube station. If you’d have told me that back in 1994 I wouldn’t have believed you, or even have known what PR was.

I’m told that there was a fire in Camden Market in 2008, and so today the market has been rebuilt and regenerated for the new generation. The noodles are less dodgy now, the chains have moved in and Cyber Dog is no longer a pop up market stall in a railway arch, but that’s progress for you. 

But wandering around the market at the weekend I was relieved to find that the soul, the spirit of Camden as I remember it (albeit through rose tinted glasses) is still alive and well. Joss sticks and feather boas are still selling like hot cakes and the people that work on the stalls are still experts at finding treasures from rare vinyl to vintage platformed shoes - and are only too pleased to share stories about the local area.

Tessellation might not be immediately obvious in the architecture of the area, but I wanted to post a blog about a part of London that has influenced me more than any other. Resisting the temptation to make a cheesy analogy about the rich mix of people who tessellate with each other, instead I leave you with a few images that sum up one of London’s greatest towns and the invitation to come and experience it in person.

*Blur are better, obviously.

Jennie Moncur at the ICA

As you head to the upstairs area at the ICA you are greeted with an impressive laser cut linoleum floor. The curatorial comment explains it’s by British tapestry artist, Jennie Moncur.

Inspired by the tapestries of the Loire castles in France, Moncur uses bold compositions and geometric shapes to create an eye catching design to lead visitors to the first floor galleries.

The flooring was originally installed in 1987 to celebrate the ICA’s fortieth anniversary. In 2008 Moncur was invited back to reinstate her original design to mark their sixtieth anniversary as the original work has been worn away by human traffic.

A delightful slideshow of her ICA flooring and plans can be viewed on Moncur’s website here.