London – round the city

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

▲ This year so far I’ve been in Melbourne, Sydney, New York City and London. Passing through Gloucester Rd tube station on the District Line this art work pops up beside the line – it’s lettie eggsyrub by Heather Phiillipson, part of the Art on the Underground project.

Jollibee is a Filipino fast food chain, they’re enormously popular in the Philippines where they have nearly 1000 outlets. The first Jollibee in London opened recently, on Earls Court Rd near the Earls Court Tube Station. It’s amazingly popular, there’s always a long line stretching along the street and up the steps inside. I’ll have to try it! Currently there’s only one other Jollibee in Europe and that’s in Milan, Italy.

◄ Ghanaian architect Sir David Adjaye has an exhibit making memory at the London Design Museum in Kensington London. He’s best known for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History in Washington DC. A number of the seven ‘monumental projects’ on display are still at the design or projected stage, like the Mass Extinction Memorial Observatory for which this sculpture of the gastric brooding frog is intended. The unfortunate Australian frog became extinct almost as soon as it was discovered.

▲ I managed to visit the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibit at the British Library on the very last day it was open. The usual big Anglo-Saxon hits were there – the Domesday Book, the Lindisfarne Bible – and I’m regularly open-mouth amazed how old so many of these things are. A thousand-year-old book? Wow. My favourite book was the gigantic Codex Amiatinus, a huge Bible made in Northumbria and taken to Italy in 716, this is absolutely not something you’d pop in your daypack. It was one of three, but this one is the only one to survive complete and it’s the first time it has been back in Britain in 1300 years. I also liked an early 11th Century silver brooch from East Anglia with a curse on the back: ‘Ædwen owns me, may the Lord own her. May the Lord curse him who takes me from her, unless she gives me of her own free will.’ Great!

I’ve also caught two photo exhibits – Don McCullin at the Tate Britain and Diane Arbus at Southbank’s Hayward Gallery.

▲ Plus the London Mithraeum under the Bloomberg Building in the City of London. It’s an ancient Roman temple which was discovered in 1954, moved to make way for a new building and now moved back to its original location when the new Bloomberg building was erected on the site.

▲ Apart from the remains of the temple itself there’s also a fascinating display of items found during the temple excavations. Entry is free, but numbers are limited so it’s wise to book at the London Mithraeum website.