Gallery run 29th March

Today I visit Stuart Shave’s two galleries using a route suitable for joggers and cyclists and then a further batch of galleries in the West End ideal for the urban pedestrian.

Greenwich Foot Tunnel gives access to the Isle of Dogs and by running round the perimeter of the City Farm on its raised walkway, the farm itself appearing to sit in what was once a major reservoir, the jogger quickly accesses the great docks once owned by the East India company. From here the Regent’s Canal is reached via the Limehouse Basin and this provides the cyclist or keen jogger with the route to Stuart Shave’s gallery near Victoria Park. Eva Rothschild is showing sculptures on both floors of this very large space and has organised the works to harmonise with it. Using the next stretch of the canal to access Wharf Road, the longer range gallery visitor can get to the second Stuart Shave gallery, located just off Old Street. Here, Ricky Swallow has produced intricate, coloured, bronze sculptures that occupy the entire space with their presence, despite having small physical dimensions.

Frith Street, about four streets west of Charing Cross Road, is a good place for the urban pedestrian to join the trek. Frith Street Gallery is showing a small group show that includes Jessica Warboys, who has created some great canvases using the sea as a fluid medium to move pigments around and to deposit additional silt-like particles of matter onto their surfaces. They have a delicate appearance with rhythmic patterns that makes them look as though they were actually being viewed through water. Using a road just north of Old Compton Street as a parallel access to Regent’s Street, Liberty comes into sight and marks the beginning of Kingly Street and this in turn leads to Sadie Coles HQ. Marvin Gaye Chetwynd has a deeply gothic theme that the viewer would enjoy, though they must beat the 7th April end date. Finally a dog-leg at the bottom of the street leads to Upper John Street and Golden Square. Marian Goodman has been showing some great works by Thomas Struth, Cristina Iglesias and Giuseppe Penone, but this was a last-day visit and not therefore, a show that can be visited now on this route.

Finally Frith Street’s other gallery sits alongside the square itself in the peaceful enclave just off Piccadilly. Photographs are presented of the brickwork inside tunnels where water of another kind, when taken in contrast to Warboys’ sea works, has created extensive marks, deposits and stains on the victorian architecture. Carry on down now along Lower Regent Street, or parallel to it which is what happened today, and Trafalgar Square comes into sight. Michael Rakowitz has a majestic sculpture on view on the square’s fourth plinth.

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Eva Rothschild of Stuart Shave with various sculptural objects carefully presented in the space.

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Ricky Swallow of Stuart Shave with cast bronze objects based on incidental interior features.

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Jessica Warboys at Frith Street Gallery with images made by immersing pigmented canvases in the sea.

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Marvin Gaye Chetwynd of Sadie Coles HQ with gothic imagery based on bats and theatre props presented against flat photo backdrops.

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Thomas Struth of Marian Goodman with a photo of physics objects that would make one’s hair stand on end.

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Cristina Iglesias of Marian Goodman with a hard looking cage-like structure which on closer inspection is delicate and made of a granular substance that actually smells quite nice.

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Giuseppe Penone of Marian Goodman with a characteristic adaptation of a natural object.

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John Riddy of Frith Street Gallery with photo images of stained brickworks made during a stroll through South London.

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The fourth plinth has arrived. Michael Rakowitz has built a replacement for the original stone treasure recently destroyed, out of tin cans.

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Gallery run 18th January

With an invite to the Foundling Museum this morning it is necessary to divide the day into two halves. The first half will be in the East and the second half in the West. Parasol Gallery, the first stop of the day, is hosting Lisa Milroy, an artist who rose to prominence in the 1990’s. Her distinctive style is a grid pattern of objects standing out against canvas backgrounds and onto which there appear to have been cast drop-shadows. The pairs of black shiny shoes make a particularly strong impression in one of the older works, actually borrowed from Tate’s collection, since they go beyond the literal representation of an object and evoke additional associations notably of mussel shells. Such metaphorical readings of paintings often come from powerful childhood memories and whilst these certainly reside within myself, it is impossible to know if such associations are also shared by the artist. A small biographical detail recently provided by a friend, that the artist frequented a stunning beach close to Liverpool inhabited by razor mussels in their thousands, adds support to this further association but ultimately just confirms our own love of resemblances.

The theme of childhood memory is one that also underpins the new show at the Foundling Museum, a show aimed for children who may have lost a vital connection to their environment. Poet and writer Robert Macfarlane has turned away from our mediated worlds of digital technology and taken us on a stroll through nature while artist Jackie Morris has produced accompanying illustrations of the poet’s main themes to depict a world populated by birds, some resting on twigs, another with a pebble held delicately in its beak. What we see is a sort of hybrid world that never really leaves culture behind, for the gold-leaf backgrounds in many of the artist’s images are often more pleasing to the eye than those in which the complex structures of trees and vegetation have been presented. Perhaps nature is only digestible in small quantities. Following this theme, we find the most lucid and beautiful quote in the press release to be one that is actually set against the cultural reality of Pokamon characters. A child may be able to name over a hundred of these cultural brands, the artists inform us, but when it comes to naming the species and genera of our own natural habitats this number falls dramatically.

What does the window panel of an envelope mean? This is one of the questions that arises at Sadie Coles HQ where Darren Bader presents a room with a few highly collectable art sculptures mixed with tat, but where the buyer is not informed as to which is the art since this is precisely the nature of the game. In one sense then, all the work is art including the tat, since just as in a landscape the figure can only be picked out in contrast to a less busy background, here the artworks would only take their full meaning when viewed in relation to the much weaker objects that surround them. But this would be to miss the point which is that the viewer or potential buyer is expected to put their own judgement on the line, and this brings us back to the envelope windows. Are they art or simply the incidental and spontaneous product of HQ’s recycling activity? That they are reminiscent of any activity at all is why they get the thumbs up from me as accomplished artwork but this is an easy thing to say, whereas it is for the dedicated punter to make the real decision on this through a purchase.

Finally, at Thomas Dane Gallery Phillip King is presenting a fabulous multi-coloured installation using painted objects that appear to have been constructed out of wooden sheet. Large circular holes punctuate a central piece that makes it appear like a giant block of cheese. Though the yellow is provided not by the object itself, which is actually a bright lime green, but by the painted wall behind, the association of colour is nevertheless strong enough to impart the idea of food to it. In all there are several of these objects propped up against each other and the overall effect is to create a space reminiscent of a stage set where the viewer can move around and observe the curiosities of colour juxtapositions and perspectival lines.

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Lisa Milroy at Parasol Unit. Shoes, distinctive flat style, fab painting in general, but also a passing resemblance don’t you think to hinged mussel shells?

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Oli Epp at Beers London.

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Jackie Morris at Foundling Museum has produced images to accompany poetry by Robert Macfarlane.

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Christina Quarles at Pilar Corrias as part of Condo.

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Gerasimos Floratis at Pilar Corrias as part of the #Condo project where artists from different galleries do a temporary exchange.

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Koppe Astner at Sadie Coles HQ part of Condo.

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? at Sadie Coles HQ. There is a room full of conceptual sculptures including this one made up of envelope windows. Four are by A-lister Darren Bader and a few others are by guests, the rest is intended to be tat! The catch is none of the sculptures are labelled and prospective buyers are invited to take a punt. I fancy this one to be a quality piece.

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Phillip King at Thomas Dane Gallery with an installation of bold forms.

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Martin Kippenberger at Christie’s.

Gallery run 6th December

My phone is being sorted out this morning leaving me temporarily camera-less. Nevertheless this hiatus is a chance to build up the jogging miles before my retrieving of the device and doing the gallery visits in quick succession. At Alison Jacques Gallery, Juergen Teller is displaying a series of photographs called Go-Sees. The title used here refers to the term in the fashion industry of an informal introduction between photographer and aspiring model. In this exhibition the models have crossed over from the fashion industry into art. They are shown posing in a frequently used doorway or against a familiar backdrop revealing, all the while, different levels of engagement with the camera. Some models are at the artist’s front door waiting to be let in and have been caught unexpectedly from above, whilst others have adopted contorted gymnastic poses thereby taking control of the photograph and demonstrating a power of their own.

A few streets away at Pilar Corrias Gallery, Mary Ramsden has exhibited abstract paintings with dynamic motifs. A swoosh of paint arcs over the canvas and at its apex, where the droplets can no longer hold together due to the force of the brush swerving in a new direction, a secondary ejection occurs. The droplets have broken free and splay out across the canvas. This arching swoosh is a gesture but also a symbol, since the artist appears to have reproduced it at will, not only in its general shape, but also in its dynamism, harnessing the forces of nature to eject the paint spray at the chosen point. Other details stand out too, though with less dynamism, such as a bright pink strip of paint up the outside of the stretcher frame. It is normally a dead space that carries only the residues and traces of the main action on the painting’s front surface, but here on this side strip the artist appears to have intervened amongst the various accidents.

Sadie Coles HQ provides two further spaces for today’s run. At Kingly Street, Kati Heck has produced a central hexagon structure in the centre of the main gallery. Six paintings are displayed on its inner walls forming a sort of panorama of images. The images themselves are very strong, comprising figures and various objects of symbolic importance, all boosted in their immediacy by the economy and panache of the brushstrokes. Some of the background colour actually appears to have been applied with decorating brushes, evidenced by the width of their strokes, whilst other areas are omitted altogether, suggesting a confidence and good judgement on the part of the artist. Arms are detached from hands, a piece of sky missing, but each such intervention is done with a plausible logic thereby keeping alive the interest for the viewer.

With the day rapidly passing, there is a chance to see some work at Phillips. Jonathan Meese has a large image that oozes German Expressionistic appeal. The tell-tale fragments of German vocabulary along with roughly rendered figures populating the picture space, create a distinct style and attractive image. Finally in Peckham a climbing frame with art aspirations of its own catches the eye. The steel with flaking blue paint looks great and its image on Instagram sits in the middle of the other eight like a sort of carousel.

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Juergen Teller at Alison Jacques Gallery who photographed aspiring models in informal settings called Go-Sees.

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Mary Ramsden of Pilar Corrias.

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Adriano Costa of Sadie Coles HQ.

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Urs Fischer at Sadie Coles HQ with prints and photos.

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John Armleder at Phillips.

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Mel Bochner at Phillips.

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Jonathan Meese at Phillips.

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Kati Heck at Sadie Coles HQ with very good figurative painting that isn’t too finished in places.

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Old frame in Peckham.

Gallery run 9th November

After a run through St James’ park and spotting a black swan, which in 1738 was used as an example by philosopher David Hume of an inconceivable event of such rarity that it might as well be compared to the Earth no longer orbiting the sun, today’s run continues northwards to the first gallery of the day. The galleries themselves are subject to similar laws of induction that aroused the attention of Hume, whereby oft repeated events start to seem almost necessary in the future, and in this vein, today’s planning takes into account that it would be almost inconceivable that White Cube gallery and Marian Goodman should not open at 10am, Sadie Coles HQ and Thomas Dane galleries would not open at 11am and Mother’s Tank Station would not open at 12 noon, though in the case of the latter there is slightly less inductive certainly of this owing to the status of the gallery as a relative newcomer.

With an itinerary set out, then, for the arrival at each gallery shortly after their respective opening times, the run is under way. First stop is White Cube. Haim Steinbeck has made elaborate shelves that look almost like triangular plinths. He has then arranged objects on them and in many cases even embedded the objects into smaller triangular plinths that nestle into the larger ones, fitting snuggly due to their precision of craftsmanship. The press release claims that these resting and embedded objects evoke nebulous associations reminiscent of how words function in a sentence. As a witty addition to this worthy aim, the current show uses surfboard fins in a variety of different coloured plastics. They have been flipped over whence they resemble the fins of sharks, the bane of any surfer, and function as a cipher for the commodified terror that has permeated our popular culture with films like Jaws. Elsewhere and with the clock confidently past 10am Marian Goodman gallery is hosting Hiroshi Sugimoto. This artist has photographed movie theatres and music halls incorporating a white projector screen as both focal point and also sole light source. Appearing as brightly lit, white rectangles these screens have in fact acquired the illusion of being white through the conjunction of the flickering forms of an actual movie and the long exposure of the artist’s photograph.

As the clock strikes 12 noon, Mother’s Tank station seems to be strangely elusive. The SatNav dot is directly above my location and then a glance upwards reveals the viaduct that straddles Farringdon road and which defines the upper level of the City’s geography at this point upon which Mother’s Tankstation is also situated. Yuri Pattison has excavated into the fixtures and fittings of the gallery’s temporary space and created small cavities. A square ceiling panel is casually pushed to one side whilst on the floor, tiny traces of carpet adhesive accompany the occasional excavations downwards. Circuit boards and computer screens populate this strange part-hidden world and on these circuit boards, which are fully functioning, software creates migrating crowds of tiny figures which interact with each other and even, as the gallery assistant tells us, commit a few murders.

Finally, at Whitechapel Gallery a small show of previously stored artworks is enjoying a rare exposure to the public. Michael Borreman’s hoodie portrait is stunning whilst Jim Lambie’s red and and silver bags is equally impressive . It is assembled, one assumes, into some sort of soul, since the secondary theme of this show is portraiture. Lambie’s piece actually evokes the feeling that it has been seen before which either means that this is the case or, more impressively perhaps, that it hasn’t been seen before, since this after all is the remit of the show, and that instead it has acquired its sense of familiarity by actually tapping into some sort of fundamental truth which simply makes it seem familiar.

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Black swan and white swan in St. James’ Park.

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Haim Steinbach of White Cube with wall mounted arrangements of objects that create associations like sentences.

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Hiroshi Sugimoto at Marian Goodman Gallery with photos of old cinemas. The artist has used long exposures whilst a film plays in the cinema he is photographing, causing the cinema screen to appear white.

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Thomas Schutte of Frith Street Gallery with glass busts blown in the Murano workshops of Venice.

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Catherine Opie of Thomas Dane Gallery with intimate photographic portraits.

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Yuri Pattison of Mother’s Tank Station with computer screen imbedded in the gallery ceiling which is showing crowds of small figures. These are generated by a computer programme and can be observed acting in certain ways and with certain objectives.

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Ad Minoliti at Project Native Informant with an installation of painted wall and two inkjet reproduced images.

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Jim Lambie of Sadie Coles HQ at Whitechapel Gallery.

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Michael Borremans of David Zwirner with a typical hidden face painting, at Whitechapel Gallery.

Gallery run 3rd November

Bright sunshine is taking the chill out of the air this morning. The sun is behind me making the jog out west along the River Thames towards Wandsworth particularly radiant. Several bridges intersect this stretch of river before one arrives at the Wandsworth recycling centre, a first base on this run and site of an excellent bacon sandwich van. The owner has been trading since before dawn, she says, despite the hour gained from changing clocks. The recycling centre itself seemingly provides much of the business as visibility tops file down the narrow pavement before placing their breakfast orders. With bacon sandwich in hand the first photo opportunity of the day presents itself, a beautifully packed wall of recycled plastic, with the sun’s rays making the different colours sparkle like jewels.

Across the river, the Serpentine Galleries are showing an upcoming American artist called Wade Guyton. He specialises in digital imaging and printing processes but adds a painterly twist by incorporating drips and dislocations into their forms with a joyful array of “mistakes”. These are either accidental or intentionally orchestrated, but either way are very effective in upsetting the order of the original image. In the other gallery Torbjorn Rodland has produced uncanny photographs that incorporate familiar objects such as shoes, food and figures. All of these compositions have been disturbed in some way. A man appears to have thrust his legs in front of his head, with the consensus being that he has performed some extreme yoga pose. But then there is the realisation that what seemed like legs are actually arms, since the performer has had shoes placed on his hands, and his head merely nestles slightly uncomfortably behind one of his arms.

The short run through Hyde Park then leads to Upper Brook Street where Michael Werner is showing Enrico David, a sculptor who was at St Martin’s College at the same time as myself. On this account there is added interest for me. The white sculpted figures with their strange and ornate metal attachments, provide a powerful spectacle to the viewer but also remind me of the artist’s distinctive style clearly evident as a student at college. At Timothy Taylor gallery, a few streets away in Carlos Place, Alex Katz is showing paintings of woodland alongside sculpted portraits and drawings. The woodland paintings, in particular, reveal the artist’s vitality as paint streaks across the canvas in broad strokes. Whole tree trunks are rendered in single swipes while additional twigs are depicted with the same economy as the trunks and appear to twitch like the whiskers of a living animal.

As the sun comes round to the south in the early afternoon there are just three remaining stops to complete, but surprises will await at each of these. At Sadie Coles HQ there is a group show of Eastern, non-European artists. Of this interesting selection, Xu Qu, who is normally represented by Almine Rech gallery, has produced a striking garland of video cameras, which are all threaded onto a thick steel cable. Then round the corner at Pilar Corrias, Rirkrit Tiravanija has filmed the making of a feast cooked in ritual fashion on a giant, cast iron stove. Though traditional in its design, the welding and cast iron of the stove reveal that this object was in fact specially made for the occasion and furthermore that the utilitarian knobs and handles are all scaled up from a smaller original design. They are now barely practical in their new setting and as such take on the mantle of art object. Lastly, and as our finale for the day, Alison Jacques gallery is showing Sheila Hicks’ fantastic, woven, wool pieces. Some of these intricate structures have been mounted on a canvas support, further challenging the viewer’s preconceptions that a difference exists between craft object and artwork.

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Wandsworth Recycling Centre.

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Wade Guyton at Serpentine Gallery with ink jet accidents and images that have a painting quality to them including this illusory effect of depth.

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Torbjorn Rodland at Serpentine Gallery. The shoes create the illusion of a strange contorting posture at first.

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Enrico David of Michael Werner.

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Alex Katz of Timothy Taylor with intense images applied in thin washes of paint.

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Xu Qu at Sadie Coles HQ with a giant video camera garland on metal cable.

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Rirkrit Tiravanija of Pilar Corrias with a cast over-sized stove and enlarged saucepans which were used to prepare a feast.

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Sheila Hicks of Alison Jacques Gallery with fabric structures attached to a standard canvas.

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Katharina Grosse at South London Gallery with spray paint that looks like draped fabrics.

Gallery run 29th June

Today is the RCA degree show in Wandsworth and with a midday opening time, the run will start slightly later and will incorporate a zigzag to the bacon sandwich van parked outside Wandsworth’s recycling depot. The woman frying the bacon is quite chatty and says she has been up working since 6am, whilst in turn I tell her I have come along the Thames from Peckham on a gallery run.

At the degree show, two adjacent rooms stand out as exceptional containing respectively the work of MA sculpture student Rosie Reed and MA painting student Feline Minne. The work by the the sculptor has a sense of abandon to it. A stack of pots and brushes are covered in paint whilst alongside stand three towers containing yet more paint-covered pots. They resemble those organic chimneys found above termite nests to provide ventilation for the colony. Clearly there are formal principles behind the work but there is also a sort of mimesis that one finds sometimes in art whereby the very thing that gives rise to anxiety, namely dirty brushes and pots, is thrust into the artwork itself and becomes its subject. Meanwhile the paintings in the adjacent room maintain this sense of freedom using loosely applied paint which somehow has a chunkiness to it despite its application in thin drippy layers.

Further east along the Thames, having doubled back almost the entire route, is Cabinet gallery set amongst its fantastic location of Vauxhall zoo. Inside, the artworks of Gillian Carnegie are no less alive than the goats that are roaming outside. The paintings somehow retain one vital ingredient that is lost to the poorer pretenders of her craft of still life. This ingredient is time, and not just the time of execution which looks considerable, but rather the time embodied in hundreds of fleeting glimpses captured in the single image. Much of this is down to her treatment of light which marks each glimpse with its own stamp of authenticity.

Further into town, another captivating painter is showing at Sadie Coles HQ in Davies Street. I analyse how Nicola Tyson has skilfully blown up her original sketches to produce vibrant large-scale images which maintain the freshness of the absent original. This is partly achieved by brushwork that applies blocks of colour in single swipes thereby exhibiting a constant element of risk. For me on the other hand, tiredness is starting to kick in now. My legs still hurt slightly from the mammoth run last week. Nevertheless I get myself across Regent’s Street to the little oasis of Golden Square where Marian Goodman Gallery is displaying two major artists, one established from the 60’s and the other relatively new.

Downstairs Giovanni Anselmo, the established practitioner of art povera, has secured marble blocks on to the wall. Unlike the blocks on the floor which have been cut beautifully by a band saw and then worked on further with a drill, these appear to be hewn much more crudely and naturally. Upstairs, the artist Adrian Villar Rojas has created a stunning sculpture. It is basically the legs of the famous statue of David set in a fantastic marble-floored auditorium but containing on its plinth along with the well known tree stump that supports David’s right leg, two playfully rendered kittens that appear to be kissing. Photos secured and art feasted upon, it is time now to head off home.

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Invader on Lambeth High Street.

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Rosie Reed at RCA Graduate Exhibition with painted brushes pots and objects.

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Feline Minne at RCA Graduate Exhibition with great paintings.

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Gillian Carnegie of Cabinet Gallery with beautifully depicted flowers and leaves.

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Ryuji Tanaka at Simon Lee Gallery. The paintings have a powerful material quality.

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Nicola Tyson of Sadie Coles HQ with beautifully vibrant paintings.

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Gabriel Kuri of Sadie Coles HQ has created an installation incorporating these standard steel cubes. Each has circular inserts containing different small objects. Here, money.

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Giovanni Anselmo of Marian Goodman Gallery with dramatically positioned rocks.

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Adrian Villar Rojas of Marian Goodman Gallery with the bottom part of David and some kissing kittens.

Gallery run 10th May

Today I headed towards St James’ Park and then into Stephen Friedman gallery where Mamma Andersson is showing paintings and woodblock prints. After checking out both galleries I go into Sainsbury’s off Berkeley Square and buy a croissant as a mid-morning snack. Then I make my way north to Sadie Coles in Davies Street to see Jordan Wolfson’s show. I photograph a rather sinister looking red plastic house with teeth and nose moulded in the roof and then go upstairs where a shock awaits. An assistant helps me put on virtual reality headset and headphones whilst warning me to hold a metal grab rail at all times. It is not an electric shock from the grab rail, but from some grotesque ultra-violence that awaits from the headset. The grab rail is probably there in case someone faints. For the first thing I see is someone taking a massive swing at a defenceless victim using a baseball bat. I close my eyes, too embarrassed to remove the headset straight away in front of the assistant and as the beating continues I catch more glimpses of the victim, through half closed eyes, now unconscious on the street which incidentally is Davies street filmed outside the gallery. “That was intense”, I mutter, as I leave in slight shock. Going south now across Piccadilly I arrive at Thomas Dane Gallery, where the sculptor Terry Adkins has assembled stacks of tin pans and lids on poles protruding from the gallery walls. The route to the Thames from here passes through Trafalgar Square and here the street performers have laid out their chalk flags on the pavement and gathered people around the sound system. The river weaves its way eastwards and I follow its north bank past City School and then into a walkway that divides a recycling facility with a large four-wheeled crane straddling the divide and visible above as it shifts giant shipping crates. At Brick Lane I refuel with a smoked salmon bagel and then check into Kate MacGarry Gallery where Dr Lakra, a Mexican artist, has made totemic sculptures based on ancient South American figurines but crossed with 20th century icons including E.T.. Peer gallery is next where James Pyman has exhibited intricate pencil drawings from images linked to his own childhood including to comic books. A tragic tale unfolds as I listen to the artist recounting the story of everyone’s second favourite comic book artist but I am not here to spoil the ending. As the run draws to an end I reach the last stage which is White Cube in Bermondsey Street. Larry Bell had created a chemical cupboard in the 70’s and has developed a trademark style of pearlescent finishes used in geometric abstractions and also some beautiful figurative works on display here. In the adjacent gallery I take what I think is the last photo of the day, entranced by a stunning orange vase with minimal design imparted to its surface by the artist Jurgen Partenheimer. But running through Bermondsey Square Lucy Tomlins sculpture of Atlas fallen from the pedestal catches my eye and I find the right angle to show off her excellent stone work as the sun catches the bridge of its nose.

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I was stopped in my tracks by a policeman as the pavement had been shut just before these guards emerged.

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Mamma Andersson at Stephen Friedman Gallery with delicate paintings from nature.

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Jordan Wolfson at Sadie Coles HQ with striking and disturbing objects and films.

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Terry Adkins at Thomas Dane Gallery with evocative assemblages.

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Dr Lakra of Kate MacGarry with totemic figures based partly on popular culture.

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James Pyman of Maureen Paley at Peer. This is a drawn close up of a Beatles 45″ record sleeve.

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Larry Bell of White Cube with oxide surfaces made in a chemical cupboard.

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Jurgen Partenheimer at White Cube with loosely painted images and ceramics.

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Lucy Tomlins presents a sculpture of Atlas in Bermondsey Square.