We snuck down to London for the first time in over year at the end of July, to see friends, catch the tail end of the London Festival of Architecture, visit a few galleries and generally see London in summer for the first time.
It was a great weekend, we popped by the just opened Serpentine Pavillion by Frank Gehry (above), although we couldn’t get in because of a fancy pants party, as well spending a fantastic half a day in the Psycho Buildings exhibition at the awesomely brutalist Hayward Gallery. I suppose it was to be expected given our profession but the artists interpreting architecture lent itself to some absolutely brilliant pieces in my opinion – including a spooky dolls house city by Rachael Whiteread a surreal frozen explosion by the Cubans Los Carpinteros and the chance to paddle about on the roof of the gallery courtesy of Gelitin’s Normally, Proceeding and unrestricted without title (below)
We caught up with old friends and farewelled some too, there aren’t many Australians left it seems. We had time to more fully explore the east end of the city wandering about the hipster paradised of Hoxton & Shoreditch, getting our fill of vietnamese (as we can’t find any in Glasgow) and trying out the eco-friendly Waterhouse – which in it’s suitable obscure location served up excellent fare although I was skeptical about prawns flown in from Thailand irrespective of the sustainability of their production.
Last weekend we travelled over to Edinburgh for a taste of culture from the capital. In the morning we followed up our Gillespie Kidd & Coia exhibition visit to take in the Basil Spence exhibition at the Dean Gallery. Another of Scotland’s post war modernists, I found his work much more inconsistent than the Glasgow boys. There were a few gems in there though – including the British Embassy in Rome (below).
In the afternoon we watched a one man performance by Magnetic North of Thoreaux’s Walden. It was an excellent performance in a photography gallery, with only 25 people sitting in a set design by the interesting auld alliance duo of Sans Facon whose website is well worth a peruse.
With peoples coats hung on hooks behind them creating the forrest, Ewan Donald explored Thoreaux’s philosophy with only a pile of sand and a stick. I found the performance engrossing if a little drawn out towards the end. Many of his thoughts are still relevant right now, especially with our allotment large in our current thinking.
We were alerted to the performance by our favourite blogger BLDG:BLOG who was attracted to the poster for the performance (below) – in many ways if it had been held in a car park it would have been an even more poignant.
Following the performance, our friends Alice & Tom cooked up a feast in their flat in Stockbridge. It was our first time in the area which is full of quirky antique shops and fresh produce merchants with the texture reflecting the West End of Glasgow.
I was lucky enough to get a work trip to Inverness for a presentation of a winning competition entry that I had worked on. While we didn’t see much of the city (and spent 7 hours on the train for a 2 hour event) the reception was held at Great Glen House (above & below), an interesting new sustainable building (designed by Chhay’s firm) so I was able to poke my nose around it and see what a top rated Scottish sustainable building feels like (the answer was stifling in the atrium, although apparently the ventilation systems wasn’t operating while we were there).
Glasgow is getting the UK’s first IKEA flat pack houses as part of a new regeneration development at Gateshead. But what I really want to know is – can you put them together with an allen key, and will they fit in the boot of your car???
Before we left brisvegas one of our plans was to host a 100 mile dinner – sourcing all the ingredients from the local region. We ran out of spare weekends in the end and didn’t get around to it. There are various arguments around at the moment with regards to the sustainablility of our food systems in the west and the distance food travels to get to our plate
Hanging out with Chhay’s cousin and her daughters who run a restaurant in Battambang, and just generally watching the process of food production/shopping in Cambodia it has been interesting to note how locally sourced so much of the food is.
Most dishes are sourced exclusively from the local market where produce is sold directly from the farmer in small stalls or on mats laid out on the ground. Not only fruit, spices & vegetables but also baskets of fish and seafood and fresh meat hanging from hooks open to the elements!
It helps that the countryside in Cambodia is incredibly fertile with large amounts of water available so that a huge range of produce can be farmed in most areas.
Much of this system is due to a lack or refridgeration, however it also means that the food is fresh daily (that is not counting the whole smoked pigs and ducks that hang bright orange in other stalls – but that is another story) and full of flavour. It is also a much more sustainable food system – relying a lot less on oil for transportation.
It’s quite funny to see systems that have been abandoned in the West but that are now being reintroduced in limted niche upmarket areas (think farmer’s markets) for lefty greenies like me are still a daily way of life for much of the world.