Thursday 25 September 2014

Ghost signs (113): Lewisham paint

This lovely ghost sign on Belmont Hill was uncovered earlier this year when a hoarding was removed - many thanks to Alan Burkitt-Gray for telling me about it. Running Past has done some fascinating research on the sign and dated it to before 1912, making it a particularly exciting example. 

C Holdaway advertises himself as a 'Painter Grainer & Decorator' as well as offering 'estimates for general repairs'. While painters, decorators and general repairs remain familiar in modern life, the 'grainer' is less common today. Graining was a method of using paint to imitate wood - either on non-wooden surfaces, or on soft wood to make it look like more expensive hardwood. It enjoyed real popularity in the nineteenth century, when labour was cheap and wood expensive; today, it is often more economical to use the real thing than employ an artisan to imitate it. How apt, then, that this vintage sign should make reference to an equally vintage trade.

Thursday 18 September 2014

London exploration, large and small

If you want to explore London this weekend, there are some exciting options available. The biggest, of course, is the annual Open House weekend. Over 800 buildings and more are open on 20 and 21 September - from the large and famous, like the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to small and quirky buildings such as Rotherhithe's Old Mortuary.

Fancy a break and a sit-down? Or an altogether more relaxed weekend? If so, Londonist has a weekend of Thames-themed talks. They're all in a perfect location: HMS President, currently a work of art in itself as it has been painted in 'dazzle camouflage' by artist Tobias Rehberger to mark the centenary of World War One. Tickets for individual talks and day passes are available.

Finally, you can sample the City of London's history on a much smaller scale. The new Heritage Gallery in the Guildhall Art Gallery is not large, but the space curated by London Metropolitan Archives is packed with treasures. The centrepiece is a copy of Magna Carta, ready for its 800th birthday next year; there are lots of other gems including 15th-century portraits of City aldermen and a First World War recruitment poster. The main art gallery has also been re-hung, so it's an excellent time to visit - and admission is free.