Tag Archives: Somerset House

Step Twenty-Nine: ice skating at Tower of London

12 Dec

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It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Especially when you hit the ice rink.

Somerset House, Natural History Museum, Winter Wonderland, Eyeskate… even Canary Wharf has an ice rink.

I decided on the Tower of London though as I’d never been and loved the idea of skating in a moat against a backdrop of fortress walls, of a monument that was built in the eleventh century. Bet Henry VIII didn’t see that coming.

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I admit I was hoping to see some Beefeaters on skates, and hear a few more Christmas tunes, but the overall experience left me feeling very festive and all warm and fuzzy inside.

Sessions last for an hour and as we went at peak time, the rink did fill up with some pros gliding around and some Bambis/Katies tripping up. The enamouring views made up for any shortcomings though.

Drinks are available to warm up after in the Ice bar and cafe.

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The details:

Location: Tower of London. Tube: Tower Hill.

Opening times: everyday 10am-10pm. For booking slots, click here.

Prices: £13.50 peak times, £11.50 off-peak times.

Here until 5th January 2014.

Step Sixteen: the American years of Erwin Blumenfeld

30 May

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Fashion photographer Erwin Blumenfeld is remembered for opposing convention, and refusing to conform to what was expected of him in his field.

He was a Berlin-born Jew that was interned in French war camps during World War Two, but managed to escape to the US with his family.

Before the war, he had dabbled with photography, and when he reached New York, landed freelance work with Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue US.

It was during these years that, arguably, his creativity really flourished, and within a few years he had established himself as a leading fashion photographer.

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The latest exhibition to showcase his American work is “Blumenfeld Studio: New York, 1941-1960” at Somerset House, which just opened last week.

The post-war boom years are clearly celebrated in his photos that depict models on magazine covers; retro advertising campaigns for Dior, L’Oréal and the like; portraits of immaculate high-society women; and humorous photos that play on famous art such as Vermeer’s The Girl with a Pearl Earring, or Manet’s Bar des Folies Bergères.

The exhibition holds around 100 of his colourful prints and spans a few rooms.

Best for: getting a glimpse of New York’s buzz in the post-war era.

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The details:

Location: East Wing Galleries, Somerset House. Tube: Temple.

Opening hours: 10am-6pm daily, until 10pm Thursdays. Last admission 5:45pm.

Free admission.

On display until 1st September.

Side step: fifty shades of…colour?

13 Nov

Henri Cartier-Bresson sticks to black and white.

There’s a new photography exhibition in town that asks: colour photography or black and white shots, which is the ideal medium? 

Nowadays we take most of our photos in colour, and with the magic of Instagram can turn them into faded retro snaps or bright pop art pictures. But during the 1950s when colour photography was just entering the scene, French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson was sceptical towards the medium.

However he never discouraged others to experiment with it. What mattered to him more was the ability to capture the moment with a photograph, that fleeting, decisive moment, and if his contemporaries used colour, then so be it.

The result is an exhibition at Somerset House called Cartier-Bresson: A Question of Colour. The protagonist’s black and white portraits are interspersed with colour photographs by international artists from the US, Canada, Mexico and beyond.

It’s laid out in a challenge and response manner. Cartier-Bresson challenges the concept of colour photography and his contemporaries respond by using it. The exhibition has a diplomatic end and concludes that both mediums are beautiful, as the photos show.

What’s more important is the skill to capture the moment.

Just as cool in colour.

The details:

Location: Somerset House, Strand.

Opening times: daily from 10am to 6pm. Just launched and will stay until 27th January 2013.

Free admission.