Liverpool. A Very Particular Gallery.

A few days ago I finally made my way to a place I’ve been meaning to visit for some time, the Victoria Gallery & Museum, part of Liverpool University. I had kept coming across references to it and had made various plans to visit but something had always come up and got in the way until the Saturday when I finally got through the door.

The Gallery is located on Ashton Street, off Brownlow Hill. It stands opposite the modernistic Metropolitan Cathedral, the warm, red brick of the gallery building is a stark contrast to the brash concrete and angular shape of the cathedral.

LIVERPOOL. Metropolitan Cathedral.

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

This isn’t the largest museum or gallery I’ve ever visited but it more than makes up for it with character and quirkiness. The interior of the building is largely unchanged from its opening, when the top floor, now the Tate Hall, served as the University’s library. It is a marvellous time capsule of Victorian design and style of that period. The magnificent entrance hall, now a excellent cafe, is dominated by a wonderfully tiled fireplace from which elegant stair cases lead off up to the higher floors.

LIVERPOOL. Victoria Gallery & Museum

The Entrance Hall Cafe.

LIVERPOOL. Victoria Gallery & Museum

Stairway to The Upper Floors

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Owl Skeleton On The Stairs.

Some of the displays are contained within individual rooms, which I found helped, I was able to focus more on specific items rather than be overwhelmed by larger displays.

The top floor of, the original museum library, now the Tate Hall named after Sir Henry Tate one of the University library’s benefactors, is a large and airy space with a beautiful beamed ceiling. This part of the gallery contains a wonderfully quirky mix of displays, one end has exhibits charting the part Liverpool University played in nuclear research, for medical uses originally and then how that changed with the onset of WW2 and then with the coming of peace developments with lead to the building of the Large Hadron Collider. At the other end of the room however there is a display of dentistry through the ages with a reconstruction of a typical Victorian era Dentist’s surgery and a collection of dentures form around the world.

LIVERPOOL. Victoria Gallery & Museum Tate Hall.

The Tate Hall.

One final aspect which made my visit so enjoyable was the staff, they are amongst the most friendly, approachable and well informed that I have met, only to happy to discuss the museum, its history and displays. Treat yourself to a couple of hours away from the rush of the city centre, next time you are near or in Liverpool, pay the Victoria a visit.

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Edinburgh. City At Festival Time.

 

A few days ago I took a train journey up to one of my favourite destinations, Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. Scotland’s a place I have been travelling to for many years, my connection being my late father who was a Scot from the Lanarkshire area. The reason, or excuse for this latest trip was that fact that the Edinburgh Festival which always adds an extra dimension to the attractions of the city.

It was to be a day trip, something which is easily managed from where I live in Lancashire, the journey time is about two and a half hours also on this trip I travelled by first class which made it even more of a pleasure than usual. So after an excellent breakfast on the train and a lot of window gazing I landed up at Edinburgh’s Waverley station, nestling in it’s narrow valley between the castle on it’s rock and the well tended greenery of Princes Street Gardens. The station is always a busy, bustling place and some aspects of it’s layout can confuse the traveller unused to it’s ways.

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My Eggs Benedict, a very enjoyable way to start a train journey.

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The always busy  Waverley Station concourse.

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Yes, its the same platform, just remember which end of it you want.

I left the station by the Waverley Steps, a brisk way to leave the station and get myself onto Princes Street. The festival had started the previous week so it was now into it’s stride. I took a walk up to St. Andrew’s Square to get a flavour of the atmosphere, Festival time the square is a popular venue site with pop up arenas and bars.

After an hour or so of people watching I was making my way back towards Princes Street and I decide to stop off at Jenner’s, an Edinburgh department store of some repute. There is a cafe on the top floor which gives and excellent view over the gardens and across to the castle. So I took in this marvellous view while I enjoyed my sandwich and coffee.

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Cafe at Jenners

I like exploring places on foot and Edinburgh is a great city to do this in. I made my way along Princes Street and then up Lothian Road to the district of Morningside, Passing by one of Edinburgh’s great open spaces, Bruntsfield Links. This area is a hive of independent shops and cafes and is one I like to visit with my camera and people watch.

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Jogging by a Bruntsfield Cafe

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Keeping an eye on Morningside.

It was now time to make my way back to the city centre and the Royal Mile to take in the atmosphere of the Fringe performers on the preview stages. The route I chose took me across The Meadows and along the George IV Bridge. Built in the late 1820’s to span one of the many valleys that cut into the city centre this doesn’t look very bridge like as you walk along it, as over the years Edinburgh has crept up on it and absorbed it. It leads you past Greyfriars Kirkyard, the cafe where Harry Potter came into being and onto the Royal Mile by St. Giles Cathedral.

This is the hub of the previews for the shows and is always a must see destination as the performers do their best to drum up and cajole and audience for their own particular show.

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Bright colours to bring in the crowds

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The cathedral looks on as another story unfolds.

So that is a flavour of my Edinburgh trip, it’s a brilliant city to visit in it’s own right and when the festival is on even more so.

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Gateshead And An Angel

Standing with a mute indifference over the bustle and clutter of a housing estate and the busy A1 road to Scotland is Anthony Gormley’s ‘Angel of The North’. The sculpture was erected in 1998 and it’s rusted orange presence has now become part of the psyche of the North East. The varied palette of orange and browns that make up the surface of the Angel are a feature of the Cor-Ten steel which is used in it’s construction. This steel has naturally weathering properties which protect it and remove the need for any additional painting.

On the day I took this image I had been visiting Newcastle upon Tyne, just across the River Tyne from Gateshead and the Angel. It was late-ish summer and the evening was beginning to settle in as the sun bid goodbye to the day. I decided to silhouette the Angel against the cloud fluffed sky and while I liked the resulting image, I felt a B&W version would work too.

A detail I only noticed when editing the shot, I had always assumed that the wings of the Angel where flat but in fact they fold inward by a very few degrees in a shallow embrace.

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Astley Hall & Figures In A Walled Garden

A favourite place of mine for taking my camera for a walk is Astley Hall on the outskirts of the Lancashire market town of Chorley. The Hall has it’s origins in the 15th century, with succeeding families of owners each putting their own stamp on the building. To the rear of the hall is the walled garden, the kitchen garden, providing produce to feed the household. The garden has been under a program of restoration and replanting with the emphasis shifting to the decorative as opposed to the edible.

It’s a spot that holds year round attractions as the season ebb and flo, the bare sticks of trees and frozen hummocks of soil slowly warm and ease themselves into a new cycle of life for the year. Shoots forcing themselves through onto the stage of a new growing year and fresh leaves begin to garland the trees as the days lengthen.

The walled garden is also a stage for an ever shifting range of features and exhibits. Two that have caught my eye are these wicker figures, not quite a Wicker Man, they don’t quite have those sinister overtones, they are more peaceful and reflective.

13/09/15 CHORLEY. Astley Hall Walled Garden. Wicker Figure.

LANCASHIRE. Chorley. Figure woven out of willow in the walled garden.

My original shots were colour but something in the poise of the figures made me try out B&W versions of the images which I felt conveyed more the timelessness of a peaceful walled garden.

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LOOKING AT LINCOLN

Lincoln is a city that I had wanted to visit for some time and to have a change from driving I decided to travel by train. The journey took a couple of hours with the route starting in the industrial surroundings of Manchester before passing through the beauties of Derbyshire’s Peak District. More industry was passed through at Sheffield but before long the train was travelling through the flat Lincolnshire countryside.

The railway station lies at the bottom of the city, by the River Witham. It was in this part of Lincoln that signs of the earliest settlements have been found. The Romans settled here in the AD 50’s, building their fort at the top of Steep Hill, where the cathedral and castle now stand.

Lincoln River Witham

The River Witham

Lincoln High Street

The High Street

This lower part of Lincoln by the river is linked to the Upper by the very aptly named Steep Hill. On your way up Steep Hill you pass The Jews House, a building which dates from the 12th century and has been occupied ever since. Having been in the recent past an Antiques shop it is now a restaurant.

Lincoln Steep Hill

Looking down Steep Hill

Lincoln Jews House

The Jews House

At the top of Steep Hill stands the glorious Lincoln Cathedral, as you will see from my headline picture it is a soaring,  impressive building. Constructed a little after the castle it was consecrated in 1092. The cathedral owns one of only four copies of the Magna Carta, this one signed in 1214, it is displayed in the museum which now occupies the castle.

Lincoln cathedral organ

The Cathedral Organ

After the collapse of the Roman Empire Britain fell prey to other invaders such as the Vikings and then finally William the Conqueror arrived in Lincoln and had the castle built in 1068. In Victorian times the castle became a prison. Now a museum the castle still has the prison chapel where the prisoners were seated and hooded in individual stalls so as to prevent any contact or conversation. It is possible to walk a complete circuit of the castle walls, a viewpoint which gives stunning views over the city and surrounding countryside.

Lincoln Castle

The Castle Entrance

Lincoln Gaol ghost

Inside the Castle Gaol

One feature of my visit to the Castle Gaol was the use of re-enactments of prisoners stories projected onto near invisible screens. They do give you a jolt if you are not expecting them. This ‘ghost’ recounts her tale of being imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread.

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A Busy Month

Just a quick post to get back into the swing of things. I’ve had a busy month getting a couple of projects off the ground, on in particular has been adding to and organising the ebooks I produce. With a little bit of head scratching and midnight oil burning I’ve managed to produce twelve titles, not in one month obviously but reaching number twelve feels like a bit of a personal milestone.

I’m now starting to feel comfortable with the format and more importantly confident in the style and content of the books.though as always, at the back of my mind is the thought that I don’t want to get over confident and just bang out books in a production line with no thought as to the idea behind them. if I expect people to look at them they have to have a decent theme and a degree of style and continuity.

I don’t intend to step back from book production, I really enjoy the challenge of putting them together, print on demand will be the next step, which means more head scratching and midnight oil burning over a different set of production techniques.

All of the above though has meant that the blogging has become a whole lot more sporadic than it was before so a bit more personal organizing will have to be brought into play.

Fleetwood, Marine Hall

FLEETWOOD. The Marine Hall

 

Right, blog entry over for now, the next one is beginning to come together out of a pile of scribbled notes.

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Heptonstall. History On A Hilltop.

Huddled around a hilltop above the West Riding town of Hebden Bridge sits the village of Heptonstall. It’s houses clustered in narrow, winding streets show its past as a centre for hand loom weaving, their large, third floor windows making the most of the precious daylight.

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Landgate as seen from Weavers Square

The centre of the village is dominated by the ruins of the church of St. Thomas A’ Becket, which date from the 1260’s. A photo of the roofless nave heads up this post. Damaged by a gale in 1847 it fell into ruin and was replaced by the adjacent church of Thomas the Apostle, which in it’s turn was struck by lightning in 1847. Perhaps there’s something about Heptonstall we should be told. The old graveyard which spreads out between the two churches is filled with the rumpled layered tombstones, each with their tale to tell of lives lived and lost, some through age, some through accident and one at the hands of the law. Clipping the edges of silver coins to win yourself a little extra at the government’s expense was a pastime that could result in an appointment with the hangman’s noose.

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Old gravestones etched with history and worn by time.

A little way off the centre of the village, sits the octagonal Methodist church. It  lays claim to being the oldest in continuous use, the foundation stone being laid after a visit from founder John Wesley in the 1740’s.

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The octagonal Methodist Church clinging to the hillside.

In an adjacent cemetery extension lies the grave of the poet Sylvia Plath, wife of fellow poet Ted Hughes. It’s a place of pilgrimage, with pens and notebooks regularly being left as tributes.  She is perhaps best known for her work ‘The Bell Jar’ . Her own story ended with her suicide in 1963.

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The grave of Sylvia Plath

Heptonstall is an intriguing place, its streets winding and looping back on one another. You can drive up and park or if you are feeling up to it a steeply rising path climbs up the hill side from Hebden Bridge on the valley bottom.

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Taking It Easy In Todmorden