The Old Bailey

On my return to London, and following my visit to the Paris Catacombs, I decided to visit another un-tourist destination, that I have been meaning go to for a while.

The Central Criminal Court, or Old Bailey as it’s colloquially known, is open Monday to Friday 10am – 1pm and 2pm – 5pm for members of the public to watch trials in session. You never know what you are going to get until you arrive, so this particular ‘attraction’ can be a little hit and miss, but makes for a unique and interesting stop off. The Old Bailey is one of the most famous criminal courts in the world with many historic cases taking place there. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it can be fascinating to watch the pomp and ceremony of the British law system, where white wigs are juxtaposed by white MacBooks which the legal teams tap away on. I will certainly be returning for further visits and very much enjoyed gaining some understanding of our legal system, be sure to arrive promptly as the public galleries fill up quickly, especially on more publicised cases.

Old Bailey sign

Old Bailey sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Worth noting: You cannot take mobile phones / large bags / food or other electronic equipment into the public galleries, and there is no where to store them within the court, so leave them at home if you can! Or a couple of the shops nearby will charge you (£2 – £5) to leave items with them.

More info here: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/about-the-city/what-we-do/Pages/Central-Criminal-Court.aspx

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Everyday Sexism Project (www.everydaysexism.com)

Today I attended a truly inspirational talk by Laura Bates, the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project. She spoke about the casual sexism that is experienced on a day-to-day basis by women everywhere. Even in these supposedly liberated times where we are not meant to be defined by gender, it is somehow acceptable for men to approach women in a sexual way, from cat-calling to groping in nightclubs and general banter at the office. Worst of all if a women makes a complaint about one of these ‘small’ incidents the usual responses are ‘why are you making such a fuss?’ or ‘you should be flattered’, when in actual fact the situations can be humiliating and embarrassing, making you feel uncomfortable at your place of work, study or even just walking down the street.

We have all been culturally groomed to accept these incidents as the normal behaviour of men. Sexist remarks, men pursuing women when they have clearly said no, groping in nightclubs/public transport and men casually sexual harassing women as part of ‘lad culture’ and ‘banter’ is totally unacceptable and it is time to take a stand against this unwanted behaviour.

Read more & contribute your experiences to the project, along with 25,000 others from around the world, here: http://www.everydaysexism.com/ 

A couple of links to interesting articles:

The sexist ‘laddism’ emanating from our universities: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/08/sexist-laddism-university-glasgow

One woman’s stand against sexual harassment: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/the-womens-blog-with-jane-martinson/2013/mar/08/woman-sexual-harassment-international-womens-day

Does Facebook have a problem with women: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/feb/19/facebook-images-rape-domestic-violence

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2013/jan/11/male-female-rape-statistics-graphic

 

ARRÊTÉ! C’EST ICI L’EMPIRE DE LA MORT! (A visit to the Paris Catacombs)

Wedged in between the mountains of Irensaga, Starkhorn, and the Dwimorberg, Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn take the Dimholt road through the Paths Of The Dead and summon a deadly force enabling them to defeat the armies of Mordor. Long ago the men of the mountains swore an oath of alliance to Gondor, but when the time came and Gondor’s need was dire, they fled vanishing into the darkness of the mountain. And so Isildur cursed them, never to rest until they had fulfilled their pledge……

This scene from Lord of the Rings lingered with me throughout my visit to the famous underground burial sites in Paris. The Catacombs, which have been open to the public since the early 19th century, are the most un-tourist of tourist sites.

In 1786, behind a procession of chanting priests, began a parade of black-covered bone-laden horse-drawn wagons that continued for years. The bones of 6 million people were distributed throughout the abandoned stone quarries beneath the Parisian streets and workers arranged crosses, urns and other necropolis memorabilia recovered from Paris’ overcrowded and rancid graveyards. In a bone-labyrinth, which inspired Victor Hugo and was used by the French resistance during World War II, you can wander through this ossuary whose subterranean tunnels and caverns extend well beyond this boneyard for 300 miles into the abandoned mines which remain largely unknown. Unfortunately this uncharted area is not open to the public, and we are kept on a well-lit route of dripping tunnels and bone walls.

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Aside from this 2km that has been made into a rather unique tourist attraction, the rest of the Paris Catacombs are explored by close communities of urban adventurers known Cataphiles. Illegally they descend into the tunnels. Secret entrances exist throughout Paris, and it is sometimes possible to enter the catacombs via the sewers, metro, and certain manholes. Then ensues a cat and mouse game with the French police tasked with patrolling the tunnels, the Catafics. Sound intriguing? The Cataphiles are notoriously difficult to make contact with and finding a guide who will indite you into the secret community of the underworld is a task akin to delivering the ring of power to Mordor…..

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However if you fancy the somewhat tamer version, 8 euros (only 4 for students) will take you into this metropolis. The entrance is next to Denfert-Rochereau, and you must be prepared to walk 2km and there is only one exit so once you are inside there’s no coming out. Not for the faint hearted or those with a nervous disposition. Having said that, one particular Catacombs warden I spotted (photo: below, left) seemed to find the environment relaxing – he had fallen into a deep sleep and rocked back and forth snoring loudly, and was at times, spooking visitors more than the bones.

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http://www.catacombes.paris.fr/

 

Some Recent Offset Printing

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A little of what I have been up to in my last few weeks in Paris –

Above are some photos of my recent offset printing project. After making my book sculptures (click here to view) I started looking at the sides of the pages where the text can be seen but only in the form of dashes and lines. The slicing of the book seemed to create automatic drawings revealing a trace of the letters and words within.

Taking these sliced up book parts I made scans of the sides and played with the images, enlarging them and selecting parts to make into stand-alone drawings.

I decided to create prints using my final image (3 book sections seen through 3 basic shapes) with an offset printing technique whereby you expose your image onto a chemically treated metal plate. When used in combination with the lithographic process, which is based on the repulsion of oil and water, the offset technique employs a flat metal plate to carry the image and obtains ink from rollers, while the non-printing area attracts a water-based film keeping the non-printing areas ink-free.

The colours for the print are taken from the CMYK printing model used by modern household printers. It is subtractive printing model where Cyan, Magenta and Yellow are used to create the rest of the spectrum. I wish to explore and bring together the impact of different technologies in history and by taking images from the ancient practice of book-making and printing them with an early 20th century lithographic process, in colours associated with modern home printing, hopefully I am combining and using technologies from across the ages!

image_3          cleaning up!

CMK

7 Blue Triangle          5 Pink Square