Tag Archives: statues

Angels everywhere, literally….

OK, I know this is a bit weird, but I’ve spent the afternoon in a Victorian cemetery. Abney Park in Stoke Newington to be precise. It was a photography course, and I had in mind to make some moody, gothic, black and white pictures. But the light was soft, the colours gently autumnal, so I ditched the B&W, and let the colours shine. It all became rather uplifting…

No straight verticals here.

This is a very Victorian place, and of course the Victorians would definitely have come here to walk about as in a modern day ‘park’. Not a convention we follow today. But not a bad one to do once in a while. Momento mori and all that.

Soft and hard

Leaning on each other for strength

What on earth could be uplifting in such a place you may wonder? Well, the faint memories that linger here are sad, but positive. The greening words on the stones are about love and remembrance, fondness and farewell. And the care that went into the preparation of these stones… Just look at the fonts and the scripts …

We remember you

We love you

Beloved Mary

Never forget you

Joseph, too young


In the middle of the Park is a ruined Church. It has a modern sculpture placed in the middle, a simile for the feelings that inhabit such a place.

And because this is Victoriana, we have angels everywhere. Guardians maybe…? actually no. Bringers of peace and soft love represented by hard stone . How wonderful is that.

Young angel

Soft stone

Ivy necklace

Aha! a classic guardian

The last picture, slightly Hardy-esque. A beautiful name, beautiful weathered stone. Someone has tidied this stone relatively recently, so Angel can be remembered again…

An hour with the Sun King!

I managed to grab one hour in the gardens of Versailles recently. One hour is not enough to marvel at the Sun King’s Palace. Awesomely exquisite… Exquisitely awesome… heck, it’s both!

Lazy fish…

Could I get any of the business party to come with me? No! For them, the pull of blackberries, laptops, email was too strong, so I was on my tod (that being an old Yorkshire expression for ‘by myself’).

Last Year at Marienbad springs to mind

Statues everywhere!

A fine Grecian profile…

It’s important to chillax, and let’s face it, the memory of the emails will fade, but who can forget a garden such as this! The Sun King knew a thing or two about making an impression. The 17th century guests must have been blown off their feet (can you say that about the 17th century…?), and the 21st century visitors are too.

Neptune (one of many)

Vistas galore

This being France, and almost Paris, and a hot day to boot, there were suitable numbers of couples around. All enjoying each others’ company, of course. Everywhere you looked…

lovers in one direction

And lovers in the other

Mind you, who can blame the locals for taking advantage. The gardens are formal, but filled with sexy figures too. Bound to raise the temperature.

One for the ladies

and another!

Bacchus reigns

Louis XIV watches over all

It’s stunning, quite breath-taking. If you get the chance, go. There is no disappointment here.

Statement views everywhere you look.

Even the steps are elegant

Try not to do it like me, in a rush, barely an hour. Take your time, take a day, wander and relax. You will remember it forever. Hey, and I didn’t even manage to get inside the palace itself! That’s for another day…

That’s the way to do it.

Tango in Argentina

Now, I have a good friend in Buenos Aires, and he sent me a facebook message the other day saying: nice blog, but where are the pictures from Argentina? And he was quite right. So Daniel, here they are for you!

Street tango

A real vibrancy to the city, epitomised of course by the street dancing. And spectacular they are too. All clickety click heels and flashing skirts. The men were men, and the women most definitely women.

Apparently I had turned up at a quiet moment…. What it must be like on a hot Saturday night! Steamy, at a guess….

(this was about 11 in the morning...)

you have to imagine the accordion in the background

Once I managed to tear myself away from the dancers I had a bit of a nose around. Very different flora and fauna in Sth America:

Street vendor

And one of the most frequented visiting spots in the city was the graveyard. Most people wanted to see Evita’s tomb. I got wrapped up in the amazing statuary.

It'll happen to us all, eventually

Soft stone hands

But enough of the morbid stuff. Take a look at some of the other statues around the city!

Make your own mind up...

And this is a giant metal flower that opens and closes for the sun.

(it's huge)

(and very dramatic)

Get back to the tango I hear you shout! Of course, if there’s a dance going then I want to have a go. And indeed we all did. Here’s Daniel, taking his first steps, tentative and nervous, with his Tango Mistress.

Come on Daniel, courage!

As the night wears on, his feet get faster and faster.

(to be honest, I don't think that's Daniel anymore)

OK, Daniel wasn’t much good. And frankly neither was I. Better leave it to the pros, who make it effortless and dreamy:

Ta Dah!

Dave by Mike

I was in Prague recently (a lovely melancholy city – see last post), where there are lots of statues. Mostly of religious subjects. But when you get to Italy the stone gets to riot, and the flesh is bared! Aha, the Italians love a bit of voyeurism and fantasy, and Florence is a great place to see it all on show…

Dave by Mike

This is just such a famous statue that I wonder if people actually really see it anymore…. I love the furrowed brow and the hand casually holding the stone. A man ready to do violence. Quiet confidence, deadly. Goliath clearly doesn’t know what’s about to hit him.

But hey! Look around the piazza and the violence theme continues and get’s spiced up even more. Check out the Sabine women who aren’t faring too well. This one’s by Giambologna:

He’s got a good grip on her!

Not content with a bit of abduction, we need a good beheading too.

Perseus & Medusa, Cellini

Ah, the Renaissance was a good time for a bit of nudity. All disguised as classical story-telling. Fabulous. (I need to get back to Rome – LOADS of statues there!)

Dave gives Perseus the hard stare...

Imperial Russia rides again! (part 1)

Do you ever play that game? The one where you choose a decade and the vote for which city would have been the coolest to live in at that time…. 60s? London, of course. 20s….? Berlin, if you wanted to live on the edgy side. 1880s? Can can-ning in Paris. Well, what about 1730s ………….? Got to be St Petersburg!!!

Imperial Eagles everywhere

And what’s amazing is that it still looks like a damn fine city. All done up in the imperial style, rebuilt, repainted, zinging with colour, not re-plani-Stalinified. And it just looks awesome. Peter the Great could ride right back in and probably still recognise it all.

The Hermitage on a Sunday morning

Not a bad spot to hang out for the winter...

He’d probably kick everyone out of his Winter Palace, which is now the Hermitage of course. He’d get the girls to put their huge dresses back on and throw a ball in the many spectacular rooms. Keep themselves warm in the winter. Good idea, dancing to stay warm…

And whilst Stalin refrained from ruining the architecture, there’s still some monumentalism (Imperial rather then Communist) – take a look at this guy’s feet (he’s holding up a huge entrance porch):

Big Foot

The whole city is pinks and greens and yellows – apparently to cheer everyone up when it’s grey in the long winter.

Venice of the North

So, Pete’s got his Winter Palace sorted. What to do in the summer? Too hot in the city, and too many smelly plebs. Better build a Summer Palace, the Peterhof!

The Summer Palace

Those Imperial Russians love a bit of triumphalism, so here’s a symbolic statue of Russia defeating the Swedes in 1721 to claim the Baltic coastline. Muscles, respect!

Russia tames the Swede

The Peterhof has definitely got a thing about gold. It absolutely shimmers and gleams. And there are ferocious babooska tourist guards everywhere that bark and frown at you if you touch any of the gold leaf. Terrifying!

Gulf of Finland

Off with her head

Alexander II got bumped off here in 1881, by some middle class norodniki terrorists (not me guv, I’d have been in Paris with the dancing girls). And lo! a church sprang up: The Church of Spilled Blood

Blood was spilled here...

It’s a fabulous, over-the-top, Russian Orthodox, onion domed, great big extravaganza. Russia wouldn’t be the same without these multi-coloured domes. cracking!

Onion domes, love 'em!

So St Petersburg get the thumbs up from me. Looks great, tons of history and culture, lots to do and see. But wait,…. when in Russia, you have to drink too – VODKA (I did, and suffered). And where are all the Russkies? Was St Petersburg deserted? What else happened on the trip to Russia…..? Ah, well. That will be the theme of the next blog post. The RUSSIANS themselves!

The Eagle has landed again!