Bill Leslie is a visual artist based in London. His work deploys various modes and styles of presentation and juxtaposition, drawing on diverse references including Modern abstract sculpture, 1950s B-Movies, as well as Russian Constructivism and modern architecture.
Percy Bysshe Shelley » Ozymandias
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away".
There could be a connection between this building and J.L.Pearson the architect of Truro Cathederal however The importantly titled Theory of the Value of Ruins states that in order to endure in human memory a civilisation must build great monuments to itself. For it is only great monuments that possess the capacity to become great ruins, and that it is by the grandeur of its ruins that a civilisation will be remembered. Wrong.
And not wrong merely because this theory was proposed by Albert Speer. It is safe to contend that the civilisation — hardly the word in the circumstances — of which he was an engineer is not primarily remembered by its ubiquitous monuments, whether they be ruinous or intact. But is any civilisation? Speer’s notion is very likely nothing more than an expression of the hubristic present demanding the future’s fealty, an incitement to unborn generations to gape in awe. It is an instance of hyperbolically distended wishfulness. Here, writ large in broken stones, is a manifest of the “place in history” preoccupation so peculiar to the despotic, the vain, the arrogant, the absolutely powerful.
When the majority of humankind, which has no desire to exert authority over its fellows, surveys ruins, it does so with blithe insubordination to tyrannical will. It gazes on the chance collisions of carving and nature, the fortuitous beauty of amputation, the glory of decay, on decrepitude’s pattern-making, stunted marvels, entropy’s sublimity. Small wonder, then, that one of the more common forms of folly created during the golden age of such caprices was the sham ruin, devastation’s mimic. We should deduce from that fashion that the appeal of the genuine ruin is not determined by its evocation of the regime or society or culture that it once, supposedly, represented but by its shape, by its very appearance, its very essence. A building which remains whole (no matter how restored, no matter how bogus that wholeness may be) is susceptible to being read as a token of the combination of circumstances that made it. Neglect and destruction strip a building of the meanings it bore when it was intact. Ruination, like death, is a great leveller. The ruin is a void, a vessel.
What is probably London’s largest ruin gives its name to the area where it stood: Crystal Palace. The glass and the metal of which this supreme feat of Victorian engineering was built have disappeared. The writers father, a young man in digs near by at Streatham Common, watched it burn on the night of November 30, 1936. But, more, he heard it burn. The groans, explosions, whistles, rustles and shrieks made it sound like a huge animal being sacrificed by pyromaniac ritualists. What remains today is not part of the structure but the protracted stone plinth on which it was raised above the terraced gardens and sloping park. This plinth is arcaded and intermittently punctuated by broad steps which lead to scrappy waste ground, to one of the area’s three transmitter masts, to a bus park. It is shorn of purpose. One obviously knows why it was built, yet its lack of context invests it with mystery and melancholy. I find it immensely and inchoately moving: a sort of memento mori, I guess, a sign of everything’s finiteness and arbitrariness. It entirely fails, however, as an evocation of its era. There seems to exist nothing to trigger a leap of the temporal imagination to the Great Exhibition — that exuberant riot of colour and vulgarity which appalled such high-minded puritans as William Morris — nor to the crowds who flocked to the increasingly tawdry entertainments which were staged after it moved to this site from Hyde Park.
HIGH STREET, PENGE, SE20
The Royal Watermen's &
Lightermen's Asylum (46 almshouses)
These Almshouses for aged watermen and lightermen were built in 1839-4.
Architect George Porter. The ground was given by J Dudun Brown. They form
3 sides of a courtyard. 2 storeys. White brick. In the centre of the
main block are 2 square towers of 4 storeys each with ogee-shaped lead
cupolas and a clock-face and wind vane face respectively in the top storey.
Between is a crow-stepped gable containing a royal cartouche and below an
oriel window of 2 tiers of 5 lights on the first floor and a 4 centred
archway on the ground floor. On each side of this central feature the
centre block has 7 windows and 2 gables. The side blocks at right angles
have 13 windows and 5 gables each. Projecting cloister to the whole.
A balustrade completes the 4th side with 3 entrances flanked by brick
piers surmounted by heraldic beasts.
According to Māori legend, a Ngaio or Mousehole tree can be seen on the moon:
The man in the moon becomes, in Māori legend, a woman, one Rona by name. This lady, it seems, once had occasion to go by night for water to a stream. In her hand she carried an empty calabash. Stumbling in the dark over stones and the roots of trees she hurt her shoeless feet and began to abuse the moon, then hidden behind clouds, hurling at it some such epithet as "You old tattooed face, there!" But the moon-goddess heard, and reaching down caught up the insulting Rona, calabash and all, into the sky. In vain the frightened woman clutched, as she rose, the tops of a ngaio-tree. The roots gave way, and Rona with her calabash and her tree are placed in the front of the moon for ever, an awful warning to all who are tempted to mock at divinities in their haste.
This trophy was unveiled by The Prince of Wales on the 6th of June 1931 commemorating the service of R.N.V.R. Officers and men who trained at H.M.S. Victory 1914 - 1918. Damaged in the 1939 - 1945 wars and restored in 1955 through the kind genorosity of past and present members of the R.N.V.R. and their friends.
"2001" is a story of evolution. Sometime in the distant past, someone or something nudged evolution by placing a monolith on Earth (presumably elsewhere throughout the universe as well). Evolution then enabled humankind to reach the moon's surface, where yet another monolith is found, one that signals the monolith placers that humankind has evolved that far. Now a race begins between computers (HAL) and human (Bowman) to reach the monolith placers. The winner will achieve the next step in evolution, whatever that may be.
In the beginning
It was a nice day.
All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain hadn't been invented yet. But clouds massing east of Eden suggested that the first thunderstorm was on its way, and it was going to be a big one.
The angel of the Eastern Gate put his wings over his head to shield himself from the first drops.
"I'm sorry," he said politely. "What was it you were saying?"
"I said, that one went down like a lead balloon," said the serpent.
"Oh. Yes," said the angel, whose name was Aziraphale.
"I think it was a bit of an overreaction, to be honest," said the serpent. "I mean, first offense and everything. I can't see what's so bad about knowing the difference between good and evil, anyway."
"It must be bad," reasoned Aziraphale, in the slightly concerned tones of one who can't see it either, and is worrying about it, "otherwise you wouldn't have been involved."
"They just said, Get up there and make some trouble," said the serpent, whose name was Crawly, although he was thinking of changing it now. Crawly, he'd decided, was not hint
"Yes, but you're a demon. I'm not sure if it's actually possible for you to do good," said Aziraphale. "It's down to your basic, you know, nature. Nothing personal, you understand."
"You've got to admit it's a bit of a pantomime, though," said Crawly. "I mean, pointing out the Tree and saying 'Don't Touch' in big letters. Not very subtle, is it? I mean, why not put it on top of a high mountain or a long way off? Makes you wonder what He's really planning."
"Best not to speculate, really," said Aziraphale. "You can't second-¬guess ineffability, I always say. There's Right, and there's Wrong. If you do Wrong when you're told to do Right, you deserve to be punished. Er."
They sat in embarrassed silence, watching the raindrops bruise the first flowers
Welcome to Bigger Picture Gallery, the newest creative space in South London
Bigger Picture Gallery is conceived and managed by the Progress Through Art Community Interest Company. We formed Progress Through Art in March 2010 following on from our success at Bigger Picture Gallery in Church Road, Crystal Palace.
With the launch of our second Bigger Picture project, in conjunction with S G Smith Motor Group at their former prestige car showroom, we shall continue helping to regenerate the local area, offering an exhibition space and focus for the many local artists and creative people.
We offer you the chance to enjoy and own original and affordable art.
Come visit our creative and vibrant space and talk to us about our evolving programme of creative workshops for schools and individuals.