Tuesday, 5 January 2016

London, Apparat and the Charm of the Big City!

Its felt like a bit of a non summer again with all my time being consumed by renovations but an early bird purchase of tickets to see Apparat at The Barbican gave me something to look forward to. 4 days in London isn't a very long time for the big smoke but it was enough to re charge the battery. It was also a bit of a closer to the latest chapter in my life.

Apparat have been one of my favourite bands ever since I first heard Song of Los on a youtube playlist and I've been really lucky to see them live. Blurring the boundary between electronic and indie music, they create a rather unique musical space which works perfectly in venues like the Southbank Centre and The Barbican. Playing a selection of lesser know tracks and music for movies I wasn't sure what to expect from the gig only really knowing the Krieg Und Frieden (Music For Theatre) sound track. What followed was an hour and a half of incredible music pulling from different corners of the Apparat back catalogue, re imaged for the soundtracks tour and delivering quite a powerful show. Some large scale visuals created a perfect backdrop to enjoy the subtle beauty of the music. I've only ever been moved to tears twice at gigs, this was the second incident and the first time was Apparat in 2012, must be somethig in the London water!

Apart from the gig my time was my own and past experience has told me its always good to have a plan. So in a slightly worse state the next day we set off in search of Dinosaurs! The Natural History Museum is quite a magical place full of stuffed animals, dinosaur bones and a wealth of display cabinets that let you get up close with nature. The Wildlife Photographer of Year show was on display so we paid the entry fee and explored the best of the best for 2015. Our eyes were met with some truelly stunning photos, some of which its hard to believe were not staged but each image held its own whether capturing intimate moments between creatures of simply showing the vastness and beauty of the natural landscape. Perfect for taking the edge of the hangover. You can see some of the work here.

Somehow thats the only part of my plan that paid off. Everything else I'd planned to go and see for one reason or another didn't happen, usually because the places I wanted to visit were closed. But the great thing is walking around the streets can feel like being in a gallery, especially aroound the East End and Brick Lane. I spied some of Ben Eines work through the shutters at Stolen Space Gallery which is always worth a visit and ended up meeting a cool designer Jenna Uusimaki who gave me a whistle stop tour of the fresh murals and cool spots to check out including the recently opened Cosmos Records London

I did manage to find the Print Club London studios, a cool screen printing workshop with combined creative desk space / print store / archive upstairs. Although the print store is supposed to be online only gallery manager Kiera was kind enough to tell me a little bit about the studios and let me leaf through a few wallets of prints where I discovered the work of Stephen Smith aka Neasden Control Centre. I also paid a visit to the Jealous London but they were also shut as it was the day off for most galleries. But least I know where they are for next time and I also spotted the cool Star Wars Invader piece due to the extra time I had for wandering around lost!

A final highlight of the trip was catching up with London based John Walter for a bite to eat, especially as I'd missed both shows for his Alien Sex Club installation which had showings in both London and Liverpool this year. By far John's biggest project to date, it saw him tackle the issue of HIV and the lack of creative engagement with it from contemporary visual culture. Leave it to John to create giant 3D inflatables of HIV genomes which look kinda cute, looking at you Pug Virus! There's been a great wealth of media coverage for the show including videos and blog articles galore (just check out the news section on the Alien Sex Club site!) including this great description of the Pug Virus! John is a real visionary and a great guy who always leaves me feeling like I've been given a serotonin shot which is kinda what you want when leaving to get an easy jet flight back to Aberdeen! 

Always a pleasure and never a chore, ill be seeing London again soon and with the flat project almost finished I might even manage a few more exciting trips this year!