‘Splashmob’ at Kings Cross Pond

Earlier this week, around 50 keen swimmers met at the Henry Moore Statue, King’s Cross in their swim wear and paraded to the pond for a swim.  A celebration of the much loved open air pool which is due to close later this month.    ‘TV doctor’, Chris Van Tulleken and members of the Serpentine Swimming Club were out in support.  Temperature 11 degrees celsius.  Photographs by Fiona Campbell.


pa180312pa180322pa180360PA180378.jpgPA180323.jpgFiona Bettles and James Norton


? , James Norton and Anne Beresford, with whom I worked years ago.


PA180338.jpgPA180339.jpgPA180353.jpgPA180362.jpgPA180368.jpgPA180391.jpgGraham Buckle attracting much attention with his butterfly stroke.



Team Serpentine.  James Norton and Graham Buckle…


Team Serpentine.  Fiona Campbell, James Norton and Graham Buckle.

Here’s a link to a petition to save the pond.   https://www.change.org/p/argent-fusion-keep-kings-cross-pond-open-for-all-year-swimming-please-don-t-scrap-it


Last chance to catch Vinny Reunov at the Saatchi Gallery

This weekend marks the end of a month long show of Ukranian artists at the Saatchi Gallery.  Until Monday 3 November.

Kiev/London based artist Vinny Reunov is one of 38 Ukranian artists in a show entitled ‘Premonition: Ukranian Art Now’ which aims to provide ‘a broad introduction to the diverse and energetic nature of Ukraine’s art-scene’. Reunov has been painting ‘in situ’ for much of the show.

Vinny Reunov in exhibition t-shirt.

Vinny Reunov in exhibition t-shirt.


Vinny Reunov 'Premonition: Ukranian Art Now'...

Vinny Reunov in front of his work.

Work in the show by other Ukranian artists.

Sandra Higgins, South American Art specialist with her Colombian friends.

Sandra Higgins, South American art specialist with her Colombian friends.

High heels at the opening night

High heels at the opening night

Premonition: Ukrainian Art Now – until the 3rd of November.

Saatchi Gallery.  Opening hours:  10am-6pm, last entry 5:30pm

Address: Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London, SW3 4RY



Royal Baby: HRH Prince George meets his people and the global media

royal baby

‘Woman has Baby’ Private Eye cover

After months of anticipation and fevered speculation a baby boy was born on 22 July 2013 at 4.24pm weighing in at a healthy 8lb 6oz.  Not just any baby but His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, third in line to the throne.

In the build up to the birth, photographers, tv crews, journalists and royal fans gathered outside the Lindo Wing in Paddington; the media staking out their spots with stepladders and tape as they waited for the Duchess of Cambridge to give birth and appear on the steps of the hospital for the ‘money shot’.  The first royal baby born in an era of social media and round the clock news.  Associated Press had their camera man in place for three weeks (8 hour shifts) to be joined by hundreds of others keen to get their glimpse of the new arrival.  A veritable media circus of epic proportion – newspaper circulation and tv ratings rocketed.

TV presenter adjusts her earpiece outside the Lindo Wing the day before the birth...

TV presenter adjusts her earpiece outside the Lindo Wing the day before the birth

Staunch royal supporters John Loughrie and Terry Hutt camped outside the hospital for 9 and 12 days respectively.  With nothing much going on (apart from the odd look alike appearance and donations of food from Krispy Creme donuts and other local businesses) they became celebrities in their own right as they were photographed and interviewed by the world’s media.

Ardent royal supporters John Loughrie and Terry Hutt in good spirits on Friday 19th July

Ardent royal supporters John Loughrie and Terry Hutt in good spirits on Friday 19th July opposite the Lindo Wing

artistic 'media' tape outside St Mary's, Paddington

The Press Association marking the spot

a prime spot for ITN

A prime spot for ITN too.

Stepladders and sun cream were flying out of the local shops as photographers braved the heat, torrential rain finding ways to cope with the inevitable boredom.   They passed the time sticking flourescent tags on their stepladders ‘If it’s news it’s news to us!’, ‘Here all week £’,  ‘OK bored now’ and entering into their own royal baby sweepstake.

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‘As seen on tv!’ flourescent tag on photographer step ladder

Odds for baby arrival date...

Odds for baby arrival date

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Decorated tent at St Mary’s. Badges for sale for £1.50 made by the disabled.

Meanwhile the world’s broadcast media struggled to find anything new to say as the Royal Household released sparse statements  – ‘things progressing as normal’ as Kate went into labour.  The 24 hour news coverage was getting desperate.  Sky discussing the merits of coconut water as something the Kate might be drinking and named a couple of countries where coconuts are grown, CNN was interviewing women in labour and stopping pregnant women on the street (yes really), and midwives, astrologers, royal fans and a token republican (BBC) were grilled on everything from possible names and their significance to the details of labour.  Simon McCoy of the BBC commented ‘Never have so many people gathered together in one place with absolutely nothing to say’.

Another wait, and at 8.30pm the doors to the Lindo Wing opened and a document was delivered to an easel (one can buy a replica for £199) on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace announcing the birth and prompting an estimated 23,000 tweets.  Scoop of the day has to go the Daily Mail who reported that two pizzas were delivered to the hospital at 8.45pm by royal protection officers.  No details of the topping.

The following day it was ‘showtime’ with gun salutes from the Tower of London and Green Park (broadcast in full), ‘Congratulations’ was played by the band on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace as members of the public queued to photograph the easel.

Meanwhile back at the hospital, helicopters hovered overhead as ‘the moment’ on the steps drew closer.  Will she leave today? The Daily Mail gave us another exclusive – photos of the royal hairdresser arriving (Rob Todd photographer again who got the pizza boxes) along with details of the baby seat. Some photographers had gone without food for fear of losing their post and missing ‘the moment’.  Jumping on my bike with camera and no stepladder I arrived at St Mary’s in the nick of time to catch Charles and Camilla leaving the hospital shortly followed by THE BABY.  No ‘money shots’ for me – couldn’t see a thing – not even through a chink in the stepladders but an incredible scene.

crowds gathered outside the Lindo Wing minutes before the appearance of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George

Crowds gathered outside the Lindo Wing minutes before the appearance of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George

Very male oriented press pack on their stepladders outside the Lindo Wing.

Very male oriented press pack on their stepladders outside the Lindo Wing.

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A good vantage point for three ladies standing on chairs inside St Mary’s.

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Excellent vantage point for the well wishers.

Cameras strapped to the barriers on remote control opposite the door to the Lindo Wing.

Cameras strapped to the barriers on remote control opposite the door to the Lindo Wing.

Journalist and broadcaster Andrew Pierce pops by for the historic moment.

Journalist and broadcaster Andrew Pierce pops by for the historic moment.

Ben Fogle, friend of William had just left the Lindo Ward where his sister was also giving birth.

Ben Fogle, friend of William had just left the Lindo Ward where his sister was also giving birth.

After the moment everyone had been waiting for which was over in a matter of minutes – just long enough for afew opportunist thieves to steal some camera bags – the media flew into action, downloading their photographs and wiring to the world’s press.

Photographer editing his photos ready to wire...

Photographer editing his photos

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Photographers on the move outside the Lindo Wing.

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Kate was indeed wearing a dress made by Katie Packham.  Polka dot (likened to the dress worn on the same steps by Princess Diana).

TV prompt card ‘Kate wearing Jenny Packham dress’.

Within minutes dress designer Katie Packham’s website crashed and copies of the dress were being made.  It had spots on it which made for a nice link to the green spotty dress worn by Princess Diana who was photographed on the same spot after the birth of William.

Terry and John being mobbed by the press.

Terry and John being mobbed by the press.

John (r) said he was 'spinning like a washing machine'.

John (r) said he was ‘spinning like a washing machine’

Gladys Richardson, former nurse at St Mary's

Gladys Richardson, former nurse at St Mary’s

At last.  Time to pack up!

At last. Time to pack up!

Bit of a mess.

I like to think the photographers took their rubbish with them.

Gift of baby vehicle as voted for by the French.

Gift of baby vehicle as voted for by the French.

Couple no doubt adding to the 23,000 tweets sent after the appearance of Prince George.

Couple no doubt adding to the 23,000 tweets sent after the appearance of Prince George.

And it didn’t end there… The day after the birth the media were still broadcasting outside Kensington Palace in their masses pouring over the photos and souvenir newspaper editions.   When asked what they were doing still there an ABC Australia reporter commented ‘Supply and demand’.

Broadcasters outside Kensington Palace

Broadcasters outside Kensington Palace

After a visit from HM The Queen, the royal couple with baby George departed for the Middleton home in Bucklebury (news reporters stating that they weren’t sure if they would have taken the A40 or M4!).  Champagne was flowing in the Old Boot Inn in Bucklebury where Derek the horse is a regular.

Leaves me wondering about the once respectable profession of the journalist and the state of our media.  It is indeed a happy and significant news story and according to Jonathan Prynn (consumer editor Evening Standard) the birth will help boost economic confidence.  It certainly will add to the value of the royal brand estimated at 53 billion.

Now time to return the attention to other more pressing issues?  The Mirror tells of ‘Heartbroken Nigella Comforted by James Bond’ and The Sun’s  ‘Bieber’s Spit Hits Fan’ front page exclusive.

There’s still time to place a bet on who the godparents might be.  William Hill has David Beckham at 250-1.

Margaret Thatcher’s Funeral

John Loughrie, fan of Margaret Thatcher on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Love her or loathe her, the funeral of Baroness Thatcher was an extraordinary occasion.  The streets were packed with thousands of people who gathered to watch her final journey from the Houses of Parliament to St Clement Dane’s and on to St Paul’s Cathedral for the service attended by over 2000 people.   Joint military forces lined the route and accompanied the coffin for the biggest funeral for a political leader since Winston Churchill.  HRH The Queen even broke with Royal Protocol to attend the event with The Duke of Edinburgh.

Dress code was ‘Full day ceremonial without swords’ (except for Roger Gifford, The Lord Mayor of London who entered the Cathedral carrying a ceremonial mourning sword dating from the 1500s – a big day for our Lord Mayor!).  ‘Morning dress or dark suit’ for the men and for the ladies ‘day dress with hat’.  David Cameron still making a point of not being seen in tails and his wife Samantha wore a hat!

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

St Paul’s Cathedral.

Crowds lined the street, people poured out of their offices and I found myself watching the latecomers enter the cathedral from Paternoster Square leaving the ‘money shots’ to the press photographers.  Joan Collins OBE (nearly 80!), Sir David Frost, Kt. OBE, Sir Norman Foster OM, ‘captains of industry’, ageing politicians once so familiar, Rolls Royces, bear skins, Chelsea Pensioners,  bands playing, bells ringing… and the ‘after party’ back at the Guildhall.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Vantage points on roofs and security barriers.

Band of the Welsh Guards.

The Band of the Welsh Guards.

The Royal Navy representing the ships deployed to The Falklands.

The Royal Navy representing the ships deployed to The Falklands.

The Royal Marines.

The muffled drums of The Royal Marines.

The Welsh Guards.

The Welsh Guards (note 5 buttons on the uniform).

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

The Royal Navy.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Protestors making a stand by turning their back to the procession – wearing red ribbon to indicate that they are not mourning the passing of Baroness Thatcher.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Security barrier providing another vantage point.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Border terrier. Shoes to the left belonging to a Falklands veteran.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Members of the public watching the congregation leaving St Paul’s from the side entrance. Everyone’s a photographer!

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Parliamentary staff. Clerk of the House of The House of Commons Sir Robert James Rogers (also an organist), The Lord Speaker Baroness de Souza and Clerk of the Parliaments David Beamish (became Clerk in the House of Lords in 1974).

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Falklands tie.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Margaret Thatcher was a great supporter of The Chelsea Pensioners who formed a funeral guard of honour on the steps of St Paul’s.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Guests including Sir Terry Wogan KBE, DL and Lord Lloyd Webber Kt exit the Cathedral.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Top hats optional with morning dress.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Lord Hestletine , CH, PC who served in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet for seven years. He is now 80 years old.

Paddy Ashdown greeting the crowds.

Former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Paddy Ashdown KCMG, KBE, PC greeting the crowds.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Banner reads ‘Margaret Thatcher. She put the Great back into Britain’.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

‘Section 28. Shame on You’, referring to a controversial amendment to the 1986 government act stating that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

‘Save the Children’

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

‘I Love Maggie’ sweatshirt.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

After the service, funeral goers repaired to The Guildhall for a reception to honour her memory.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

The Guildhall, home of the City of London.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Guests leaving the Guildhall reception (background car belongs to the Mayor of Westminster).

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Gerald Ronson CBE (business tycoon and philanthropist) and wife, Dame Gail Ronson.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP and wife Lucia leaving the Guildhall. Jeremy is apparently very keen on dancing the lambada.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Lord Black, PC, OC, KSCG (former newspaper publisher, author), and Barbara Amiel.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Dorothy Hughes, 85 (the first lady to be admitted as a Chelsea Pensioner in 2009) formed part of the guard of honour for the service at St Paul’s.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Lady Mayor of Grantham. Went to the same school as Baroness Thatcher. The Grantham Museum which is normally shut on Wednesdays opened its door for a screening of the funeral.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

The Company of Pikemen and Musketeers outside The Guildhall.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

About turn for the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers as they head back to the Honourable Artillery Company.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral

Check the Musketeer on the right…

Margaret Thatcher FuneralMargaret Thatcher FuneralMargaret Thatcher Funeral

Easter Sunday at the Tower of London


Yeoman Warders in State dress.

On Easter Sunday I had the honour of being present at the Tower of London for one of three annual State Parades (the other being at Whitsun and the Sunday before Christmas) when the Yeoman Warders escort the Governor from Queen’s House in scarlet and gold State dress to the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula.  An excellent Easter Day service and chocolate for the congregation on departure!

The State dress uniforms which are only worn on State occasions date from 1552 comprise a knee length scarlet tunic, breeches, stockings and a round brimmed hat called a Tudor bonnet.  Queen Elizabeth I introduced the distinctive neck ruff.  Their tunics display the thistle, rose and shamrock (emblems of Scotland, England and Ireland) and the initials ER (Elizabeth Regina).  They are armed with a sword and partisan with the gaoler (on this occasion acting gaoler Yeoman Serjeant Bob Loughlin) carrying the ceremonial axe.

There are currently 37 Yeoman Warders residing at The Tower all of whom have served a minimum of 22 years with the Armed Forces and have received a long service and good conduct medal.  They are not to be confused with the Yeomen of the Guard (whose State dress is distinguished by cross belts worn from the left shoulder).  For every day dress the Yeoman Warders wear dark blue and red ‘undress’ uniform.

Governor Colonel Richard Harrold OBE inspects the Yeoman Warders before the State Parade to the Royal Chapel

Governor Colonel Richard Harrold OBE inspects the Yeoman Warders before the State Parade to the Royal Chapel.

Chief Warder Alan Kingshott with the mace which is carried on ceremonial occasions.

Chief Warder Alan Kingshott with the mace which is carried on ceremonial occasions.

The Governor leads the Yeoman Warders to the Chapel Royal for the State Parade.

The Governor leads the Yeoman Warders to the Chapel Royal for the State Parade.

The Reverend, Roger J Hall MBE awaiting the arrival of the Parade before the Easter Sunday service.

The Reverend, Roger J Hall MBE awaiting the arrival of the Parade before the Easter Sunday service.

The Yeoman Gaoler carries the ceremonial axe into the Chapel.

The Yeoman Gaoler carries the ceremonial axe into the Chapel.

Yeoman Warder.

Yeoman Warder Jimmy James.

State dress detail. 'Dieu et mon droit'.  This is the motto of the British Monarch in England meaning literally 'God and my right'.

State dress detail. ‘Dieu et mon droit’. This is the motto of the British Monarch in England meaning literally ‘God and my right’.

State dress detail.  Leather shoes with red white and blue rosettes.

State dress detail. Leather shoes with red white and blue rosettes.

After the Parade.

Yeoman Warder, Jimmy James.

Finely dressed member of the congregation.

Finely dressed member of the congregation.

Good to see spats being worn by congregation member.

Good to see spats being worn by congregation member.

Yeoman Warder (left) wearing the navy blue and red undress uniform.

Yeoman Warder (left) wearing the navy blue and red undress uniform.  State dress (right).

Cast iron 12 pounder gun, probably Flemish, dated 1607.  Carriage, British 1827.

Cast iron 12 pounder gun, probably Flemish, dated 1607. Carriage, British 1827.

The Tower of London is one of the most popular heritage sites in the country attracting over 2.5 million visitors last year.

The Exhibition ‘Coins and Kings: The Royal Mint at the Tower’ opens on May 24 2013.  http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/

Photographs are the copyright of Fiona Campbell rubyslippersphoto.com and may not be used without permission.

Purim in Stamford Hill

Family crosses the road bearing a gift of food wrapped in customary cellophane.

The Haredi Jews of Stamford Hill are normally a sober bunch.  Once a year however on the festival of Purim they take to the streets in fancy dress, crank up the sound systems and party in carnival style.  Purim commemorates the time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination from a massacre by Haman due to the courage of a young Jewish woman called Esther.

Adults of legal age are actively encouraged to get intoxicated, specifically to the point that they can’t tell the difference between the words “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordecai”.  Purim is celebrated not only with drinking, feasting and dancing but the offering of gifts and collection of money for charity.  Not a policeman in sight.

Colonel Gaddafi

The Haredi – strictly-Orthodox Jews (Haredi meaning ‘fearful’) who trace their ancestry to 18th-century Eastern Europe – are one of the most close-knit, insular and private communities in Britain. More than 20,000 live in Stamford Hill, in north-east London.  Yiddish is the main language. Contact with the secular society is generally avoided, television and secular newspapers are banned and religious study is a major part of their lives.  The mingling of sexes is strictly regulated and it is not unusual for families to have up to 10 children who all attend single sex Jewish schools (all but one is private).  The women dress in dark coats, long skirts and once married wigs are obligatory.  As often seen on the sabbath the men dress in frock coats, long silk gowns (bekishes), flamboyant fur hat (shtreimel), white stockings and slip on shoes.

Further images can be seen in the following slideshow.


All images copyright Fiona Campbell.  Images may not be used without permission.

The Lord Mayor’s Show 2011

David Wootton, Lord Mayor.

On Saturday 12 November, London celebrated the installation of the 684th Lord Mayor of London, Alderman David Wootton at the annual Lord Mayor’s Show.  Based at Mansion House, his principal role is ambassador for all UK based financial and professional services.  Not to be confused with the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson who is concerned with the strategic governance of Greater London.

Crowds at the Lord Mayor's Show.

The procession is a spectacular show of Britain at its best with thousands lining the three mile route which passes from The Guildhall via Mansion House to St Paul’s Cathedral (where the Lord Mayor is blessed) to the Royal Courts of Justice where the Lord Mayor swears allegiance to the Crown.

The 6000+ participants included the Great Twelve Livery Companies (Mercers, Grocers, Drapers, Fishmongers, Goldsmiths, Merchant Taylors, Skinners, Habadashers, Salters, Ironmongers, Vintners and Clothworkers) as well as marching bands, charities, schools, Yeoman Warders, Pikemen and Musketeers, former Lord Mayors, sheriff’s, members of the clergy, the City of London Police and more.   Spectacular Carriages (some supplied by the Royal Mews), horses, sheep, Stephen Fry (doing a ‘fry-on-the-wall documentary), Clare Balding (trotting alongside the procession in inimitable style presenting for the BBC) gowns, fur, swords, muskets, pikes, bejewelled chains of office, maces – a pageant of colour and carnival to welcome the new Lord Mayor.

Trooper from The Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry Regiment. The escort to the new Lord Mayor.

Captain Alistair Bassett Cross leading The Company of Pikemen and Musketeers.

Yeoman Warders, Pikemen and Musketeers watching the procession outside Mansion House.

HM Forces salute.

Yeoman Warders.

Clare Balding presenting for the BBC.

Members of the Worshipful Company of Fletchers.

Members of the Worshipful Company of Fletchers. http://www.fletchers.org.uk/

Stan Brown, Ward Beadle, Port Soken and Malcolm Potter, Beadle, Bridge Within and Without.

Members of the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers at ease outside Mansion House.

David Lawless, the Lord Mayor's Coachman. The 6 horses drawing the carriage were provided by http://www.waldburgshires.co.uk/ (when HM The Queen is out in a carriage she has 8 horses pulling it)

Pageant Master, Dominic Reid (r) chatting to members of the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers.

Caspar Wootton, grandson of the Lord Mayor.

The Lord Mayor and his wife are blessed by Canon Pastor Michael Colclough, St Paul's Cathedral. While the State Coach was unable to stop at the front of the Cathedral (due to the occupiers tents) the procession continued as usual giving us a rare glimpse of the blessing.

Alderman and Sheriff Alan Yarrow with his Chaplain, Canon Giles Fraser. (who resigned as Canon Chancellor of St Paul's on October 27 2011).

Doggett's Coat and Badge Men with Pikemen and Musketeer outside the Royal Courts.

Masters of the Worshipful Company of Drapers, Grocers and Mercers.

The Lord Mayor's State Coach outside the Royal Courts of Justice.

Aldermen Past the Chair - Carriage with former Lord Mayors, Sir John Stuttard (2006-7, Glazier), Ian Luder (2008-9, Cooper), Sir David Lewis (2007-8, Solicitor), Nick Anstee (2009-10, Butcher) l-r

Lady Mayoress, Elizabeth Wootton and son Christopher. The Lady Mayoress wearing English Tweed from Carlisle and gloves presented to her by the Worshipful Company of Glovers.

The Lord Mayor's Car. Registration LMO.

The Front of the Pageantmaster's Land-Rover.

The Lord Mayor's State Coach.

Outside Mansion House at the end of the Show.

Alderman David Wootton, Lord Mayor is not merely some ‘corporate lawyer chappie’ (Guardian Sports journalist Martin Kelner bemoaning the fact that the Show was broadcast on BBC1 in the place of Football Focus) who dresses up in gown and tricorn.  He works exceptionally hard representing the interests of the City both in the UK and abroad, giving over 700 speeches throughout the year and addressing over 10,000 people each month.  I might add that he does not take a salary for this position.  I wish him the best with the challenges that lie ahead.

The 2012 Lord Mayor’s Show is on Saturday 10 November.


Further images from the show can be seen on the following link http://rubyslippersphoto.com/LordMayorShow2011/index.html

In May 2010 my book on the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers at the Lord Mayor’s Show 2009 was presented to HM The Queen by the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers.  The book can be viewed on the following link.   http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1364573

If you would like to buy a copy of the book (limited edition of 150) please contact me directly as I have some copies.  Likewise if you would like a print or license to use any of the images.  fiona@rubyslippersphoto.com

Pageant Master of almost 20 years, Dominic Reid OBE gives a lecture on the history of the Lord Mayor’s Show: http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/the-history-of-the-lord-mayor’s-show

The Golden Ticket: Leonardo Da Vinci at The National Gallery

Queues round the block on day one of the show that is 'Leonardo da Vinci: painter at the Court of Milan'.

The National Gallery has opened its doors  for their ‘blockbuster’ Leonardo Da Vinci show which features more than 60 paintings and drawings exploring his time in Milan (1482-1519) when he became court painter to the city’s ruler, Ludovico Sforza.

With Sky Arts broadcasting live from the party (an unprecedented broadcasting experiment at 80 minutes no less and shown cinemas nationwide); Rachel Campbell-Johnson on the front page of The Times describing how she was moved to tears, calling it ‘the best show ever’; others describe it as a ‘landmark’ show, ‘exhibition of the century’ and an ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ this certainly is a hot ticket.  In his effusive Sunday Times piece, Waldemar Januszczak was so taken by Leonardo’s depiction of women, he stated that should such a fine form of a woman fall into any of the canals Leonardo designed for Milan, he would happily jump in after her (note he’s a non-swimmer)…  The exhibition is deservedly drawing in the crowds and tickets are sold out well into the new year.

Art lovers wait patiently to see the works of the great master, Leonardo.

Leonardo clearly thrived under the patronage of Sforza and the period in Milan was the most productive period of his career.  The National Gallery writes of the artist: ‘His perfectionist and easily distracted nature made him ill-suited for freelance work’.   The Gallery has brought together nine paintings by Leonardo (some in unfinished states – like the best of us, he sometimes had trouble finishing his projects) out of 20 paintings attributed to him.  The show also features paintings and other works by Leonardo’s pupils.

Curators comparing two versions of Leonardo's 'Virgin of the Rocks' which are hung opposite each other. In picture is the version (uncleaned) from the Musee du Louvre behind perspex which is opposite the National Gallery's much cleaner (some say overcleaned) version. This is the first time in history that the paintings have been shown together.

Detail of The National Gallery's 'Virgin of the Rocks', the cleaning of which is said to have inspired the exhibition (1491/2-9, and 1506-8).

Portrait of Leonardo's patron, Ludovico Maria Sforza, known as 'Il Moro' ('the moor') for his dark hair and swarthy complexion (1496-9) Tempera on vellum. Archivo Storico Civico e Biblioteca Trivulziana, Milan.

Portrait of a Young Man (1490-1) by Leonardo's pupil Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio. On loan from Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan.

The Lady with an Ermine (1489-90), portrait of Cecilia Gallerani (she was 15 years old at the time of the painting), one of Sforza's mistresses. On loan from the National Museum, Cracow.

Portrait of a Woman (La Belle Feronniere) 1493-4. Portrait of Beatrice d'Este, the wife of Ludovico Sforza. On loan from the Louvre.

Portrait of a Young Man ('The Musician') 1486-7. On loan from Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan.

Virgin and Child (1491-5). On loan from the Hermitage, St Petersburg.

The recently discovered 'Christ as Salvator Mundi'. The painting changed hands in 1958 for £45 and is now valued at £126m.

Portrait of a man in profile, (1484-6) Lent by Her Majesty The Queen.

The works have been lent by galleries and private collections worldwide  – (Paris, Milan, Washington DC, New York, Cracow, Vatican City, Berlin, Madrid, Frankfurt, Vienna) and over 30 drawings are on loan from Her Majesty The Queen whose personal stamp appears at the bottom of the portrait.

'ER' stamped on the portrait showing clearly in whose private collection this resides.

‘The Madonna of the Yarnwinder’ which was famously stolen from the 9th Duke of Buccleuch’s Drumlanrig Castle in 2003  is also on view.   The painting, reputedly worth in the region of £50 million, was recovered in 2007, a month after the death of the Duke and has now been loaned to the National Gallery of Scotland by his son.

Don’t expect to see the ‘Mona Lisa’ (it wasn’t painted during the Milan period, not that I imagine the Louvre would consider letting it out of its sight) nor ‘The Last Supper’ which is too fragile to travel/stuck to the wall in Milan.  There is however a full scale nearly contemporary copy of ‘The Last Supper’ in oils, and a very good photographic reduced reproduction of the original, which can be seen alongside the  preparatory drawings in the Sunley Room where the exhibition continues;  giving one an opportunity to stretch ones legs and be reminded of the wealth of paintings the National Gallery has on permanent display free of charge.

The Exhibition is staggering.  A great achievement for the National Gallery, much for scholars and art lovers alike.  Comforting to know that even the genius polymath that was Leonardo struggled at times with the freelance world and had trouble finishing projects.

‘That figure is most praiseworthy which best expresses through its actions the passions of its mind.’ Leonardo da Vinci.

Tickets cost £16 and the exhibition runs until 5 February 2012.

Tacita Dean’s ‘FILM’ unveiled at the Turbine Hall, Tate Modern

Frieze week is off to a great start with the unveiling of British artist, Tacita Dean’s Turbine Hall commission for Tate Modern.

Giant egg from Tacita Dean's 'FILM', Turbine Hall.

This 11 minute silent film is projected on to an enormous 13 metre vertical screen in a blacked out Turbine Hall.  As well as being a fine work of art, meticulously crafted in camera on 35mm film it also pays homage to the dying medium of film (labs are closing at a dramatic rate and following the closure of the Soho Film Lab, Tacita had no choice but to take her production out of the UK).

Aside from the artist and her team, credit is due to a chap named Steve Farman who is possibly the last negative cutter in the UK.  Following a technical accident at the lab in Amsterdam, Steve came to Tacita’s rescue and only last week drove from her home county of Kent to recut the film in Amsterdam, delivering it safely back to the Tate in the early hours of Saturday morning (The Tate were expecting delivery in September of last year).

The sprocket holes which frame the moving images such as an escalator, snail, grasshopper, victorian waterfall,  giant egg and a stone, are a constant reminder of her chosen medium of which she speaks so passionately about.

The book that accompanies the show includes contributions from a wide range of cultural figures such as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Neil Young addressing the importance of film and analogue in the digital age.

In the press conference Tacita pondered on whether she would return to painting in the absence of film printing facilities but let’s hope the medium lives on and one can choose between analogue, digital or paint.

Nicholas Cullinan - curator, Tacita Dean, Gavin Neath - Senior Vice President of Global Communications at Unilever, sponsors of the commission and Chris Dercon - Director, Tate Modern (l-r) at the press conference.

Stone from Tacita's private collection representing the Paramount Films logo.

Victorian waterfall in Tacita Dean's 'FILM'

Escalator in Tacita Dean's 'FILM'

Waterfall in Tacita Dean's 'FILM'

The Times Newspaper's chief art critic Rachel Campbell-Johnson and BBC's arts editor Bill Gompertz in front of Tacita Dean's 'FILM'

The silhouette and finger shadow possibilities are endless. Fiona Campbell and Rodolph de Salis in front of Tacita's sprockets.

BBC art critic Will Gompertz interviewing Tacita Dean in front of her work 'FILM'. Traces of Doris Salcedo's 'CRACK' still visible (October 2007 Turbine commission).

Tacita Dean’s ‘Film’ is at Tate Modern, London SE1, from 11 October until 11 March.

Journey of the Busts – Somerset to Hackney Wick. ‘Sottoportego’ at the Schwartz Gallery.

On a recent visit to Somerset I had the pleasure of accompanying Rodolph de Salis to collect nine ancestral busts commissioned from Cliveden Conservation.   The marble originals from the studio of Antonio Canova are of Count Jerome de Salis (1771-1836) and his wife Henrietta (1785-1856), and were made in Rome in 1816.

Jeromes and Henrietta at Cliveden Conservation waiting to be put in the van for their journey to London.

Since their emergence from the Somerset studio, Jerome and Henrietta have had a busy schedule.  They appeared at a de Salis familiy gathering in Sussex,  and until the end of this week are installed as part of Rodolph de Salis’ installation / Label de Salis presents ‘Sottoportego’ at the Schwartz Gallery Project Space, Hackney Wick.

Label de Salis presents 'Sottoportego' at the Schwartz Gallery Project Space.

The Gallery describes his work as such:  ‘Glittering in hyperspace, it is a carte-blanche melange of objects found, purchased and inherited; a festival of re-evaluation, appropriation and juxtapositioning. The installation blurs the boundaries between gallery, living and storage space. A cornucopia of objects ranging from paintings, antiques, flags, swords, boxes, books, furniture, exhibition catalogues, vinyl records and a myriad of collected items occupy an ambiguous territory whereby objects double as improvised household fixtures and collecting overlaps with personal domestic habits and hoarding tendencies. In short, we are immersed in a space rich in contradictions investigating the role of the viewer, the artist and the gallery as well as the value of art.’

'Sottoportego' detail. Busts, Versace 12" plate, 'Tresors de la Mer', Polaroid Swinger II camera, Arsenal flags, Tennis net belonging to Rodolph's grandfather, last used circa 1970.

Detail of 'Sottoportego' H.M. The Queen, Oil on Canvas by Vinny Reunov, tennis net.

Detail of 'Sottoportego' showing 'Let your imagination run wild', oil-on-canvas, by Vinny Reunov; a Francis Upritchard/New Zealand tote bag; the Lake of Nemi; corked Riesling as skirting board decorative device; rat collaboration piece in laptop bag; totem to my neighbours (eight Hebrew boxes stacked); Arsenal flags from a game they lost 1-3; a good copy of a Reynolds in the Tate; a tennis net last used in 1970; an ivory figure of a praying saint.

Mirror ball in silver plate disc, Jerome in balaclava.

Detail of 'Sottoportego'. Loutoff Mannequin.

Rodolph de Salis 'Homage to Richard Hamilton, Thomas Struth and David Shaw' from the A-L-L-O-T-M-E-N-T-S group show also in the Schwartz Gallery.

A visual cornucopia of intrigue, family history, personal and found items. My favourite being a stack of Hebrew hatboxes in the corner entitled ‘totem to my neighbours’,  meccano and silver forks displayed on the walls, a frying pan containing a rat nest (rat absent) from the house where Rodolph grew up, a collection of jelly moulds,  the self assessment device from the End nightclub (found January 2009 from a large pile of discards on its closure in 2009),  TOTE BAGS from Venice, a catalogue of treasures from Chatsworth and of course the busts who will soon take up their new home in Rodolph’s studio when the show comes down on Monday.

Alas, the fashion for busts seems to have resided.  If however you would like to have a bust made Cliveden Conservation will be happy to oblige.  http://clivedenconservation.com/

‘Sottoportego’ closes on Sunday 20th August 2011.  The show is open Thursday (12-6), Friday (12-6) and closing day / party Saturday (12-10pm).

Schwartz Gallery, 92 White Post Lane, London E9 5EN  http://www.schwartzgallery.co.uk