Thursday, 23 October 2014

A touch of Opera

The light in Oslo was certainly dramatic, the low-lying but nevertheless blinding sun threatening to set from 4 until 7pm. This is the Oslo Opera House  which is serves as a popular playground to adults and children alike. People enjoy this building, the external space that sweeps up and around the core of the building, to repose, reflect, play, enjoy views of Olso and Fjord and be part of the spectacle or feel part of a landscape. You can't bury your head in your phone either as there are small swathes cut out of the ground every now and then which might trip you up. A certain soft focus may have been produced in part by the smear left on my lens by my 4 year old playing with my camera or the fact that I haven't been able to get to grips with the multitude of fiddly menus on my new digital compact camera, which I have a love hate relationship with, to fix the depth of field.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


These photos were taken at the new financial district of Oslo known as "The Barcode Project". Some of the images in this edit turn out to be surprisingly textural for such a clean lined and shiny district. I got a bit obsessed with this bus-stop for some reason with its orange panes and red climbing plants, and I like the hashtag branding of the Oslo public transport service "Ruter". 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Grids and Mirrors

Photos of the exhibition by the German artist Isa Genzken currently on at Inverleith House at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, extendeduntil 5th October 2014.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Unpleasant Design

Unpleasant Design is a book by Selena Savić and Gordan Savičić that investigates obstacles, psychological and sensual manipulation in common/public spaces and offers ways to overcome it, often in a playful and creative way. After reading this book, I started noticing examples of this phenomena in my neighbourhood. You should buy this book, if only for its sandpaper dust-jacket.

The other photographs came about whilst trying to point my camera at something beautiful, of which there is, admittedly, a lot in Edinburgh, the castle, for instance. Unfortunately, my camera resisted all attempts to do this as if magnetically repelled until pointed towards something mundane, irrelevant and perhaps unbeautiful. Sorry, Edinburgh. But as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Anything goes, at any time.  

CAUTION DO NOT CLIMB No-risk culture
Aw....was just about to wade in and enjoy my latte and croissant here.

Unpleasant design. Anti skateboarding lozenges. 

Unusual height makes sitting uncomfortable on this bench for longer time. (If you can get up there in the first place)

I've been in Edinburgh a year now. But no-one told me it was just a facade.

Capacity: 67,800 Seats taken: 1.      

Monday, 1 September 2014

I've been looking for freedom

Schöneweide, an area in southeast Berlin, in the borough of Treptow-Köpenick. After the wall came down, around 25,000 people lost their jobs here in the industrial complex belonging to energy suppliers AEG, which was no longer viable after reunification.  

The mural says: 'Give space to art, then the beauty of its soul will unfurl in freedom.' Many artists have recently moved into studios in industrial buildings which belonged to AEG, vacant for 20 years.
This is the new home of legendary beach club Kiki Blofeld. They had to leave Mitte/Kreuzberg in central Berlin in 2011, because the State of Berlin had sold their land to the highest bidder. They had the status of 'Zwischennützer' which meant that so as long as the land was not marketable, they could use it and pay cheap rent.
New home of Kiki Blofeld, 400 square metre hall for DJs and Bands, 1000 square metre outdoor space
We arrived on an overcast rainy evening so the club was closed as was access to the industrial buildings on Wilhelminenhof strasse, where there had been open studios and an arts festival a few months ago.

The State of Berlin sold part of the AEG factory areal (20,000 square metres) to investor Sven Herrman, an ex Stasi agent, for 432 471 Euro, about the same price for a medium sized flat in Central Berlin. The artist Ai Wei Wei, was prepared to pay nearly 2 million Euros for 4800 Square metres of this. (as reported in Die Welt)
Footloose? No a better soundtrack would be '(Everything I do) I do it for you' by Bryan Adams. Adams stepped in and bought one of the empty factory halls in November 2013 after Ai Wei Wei was arrested in China and was unable to secure the deal to move to Berlin. Adams plans to open a cultural centre there for artist and architect friends.

17 scientific institutions and 1300 companies are based in the traditionally industrial quarter along the river Spree.  Even 20 years after the jobs disappeared, employment is still very high in Schöneweide, people are economically disadvantaged, or as one blog puts it:' on the social atlas Schöneweide lies at the bottom' . Let's hope that if there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if and when Schöneweide 'comes up', its for them too.   

Kaisersteg Bridge was rebuilt and reopened in 2007. It provides a shortcut for students of the University to the S-Bahn, just like it did for the workers of the AEG, Berlin's electricity company.
The University of Applied Sciences,  moved to Schöneweide in 2006. 8000 students from 100 different countries study here. Most of them, however still choose to live near the city centre.

Schöneweide had become a Neonazis stronghold up until recently with violent attacks on migrants and left wing people and organisations. This had obviously put many people off from moving or even coming here. 

Now the infamous 'Henker' pub, which had served as a meeting point for rightwing extremists since 2009 was evicted through the courts by its landlord. In April, the regional Chairman of the far right extremist party NPD closed his militaria shop located in the same street in Schöneweide due to lack of custom. DeGeWo, a housing association that owns 350,000 properties, has  included clauses in tenancy agreements than bans any products promoting extreme right ideas being sold in its commercial properties. (as reported on RBB )

Families have now also begun to move here from other areas of Berlin,  pushed out by rising rents in more sought after areas. Kiki Blofeld have leased the land until September 2014 to see if it is viable. They hope that people will make the journey to the club, which, after all is just a short ride by S-Bahn from the city centre. The owner, Gerke Freyschmidt says "They just have to realise that Oberschöneweide also is part of the city".

Other articles (in German)