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Playing the Building

6 Aug

My friend Mark McNamara is in London for the rest of the month working on David Byrne’s sound installation Playing the Building at the Roundhouse in Camden.


The installation consists of an old organ that is hooked up to actually play the building. The keys are wired up to motors that vibrate the girders, solenoids that ping the iron columns, and air jets that blast and make flute like noises. I spent two afternoons at the Roundhouse this week photographing the installation process. To see all of my images click here and here. Please join me in experiencing this art work on the evening of 20 August.


Brompton World Championships – 2008

29 Sep

This weekend the Brompton World Championships were held at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England. A Brompton is a folding bicycle made in London and is considered by many to be the best of its kind. It’s of very high quality and folds smaller than other bikes with the same wheel size, making it a very useful bike for urban riding and international travel. It’s so easy to fold it up and take it on a bus, train, taxi, or airplane. I should also mention that it’s a lot of fun to ride too! I have been riding a Brompton for four years now and often take it with me on trips within the UK as well as abroad. For the complete post with photos click here.

This first photo is of my trusty two-speeder and was taken at the Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park while I was on my way to meet the busses which took us out to Blenheim Palace.

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This next photo is of a Brompton that has been folded up.

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On Saturday, Brompton organised a casual ride out to their bicycle factory in Brentford. This is Will (the managing director of Brompton) wearing the official world championship jersey at Horse Guards Parade in London.


On the way out to the factory we passed by several famous London landmarks.





Unfortunately my batteries ran out before we made it to the factory – but one of the other photographers who was there, Marcus Jackson-Baker, has kindly let me use his photos here. In the first one we see one of the mechanics assembling a Brompton. Each Brompton is assembled by one person and this particular worker can assemble 22 bicycles in a single day.

A bike assembly station

And in this one we see one of the workers brazing the frame together.

Brazing a main frame

On Sunday morning Brompton organised two coaches to take us out to Oxfordshire for the Brompton World Championship race. About a hundred of us met at Victoria coach station at 8am. Who would have thought that you could fit 50 bicycles in one bus: with Bromptons you can!

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This year the race was officially sanctioned by British Cycling and the rules set by Brompton were very specific on the dress code:
All participants, both male and female, must wear a suit jacket, collared shirt and tie. Shorts and three-quarter length trousers may be worn if preferred, though sports attire (e.g. Lycra shorts/leggings, tracksuit pants, etc.) is not permitted.

Here is a selection of shots of participants in their chosen outfits.

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I placed 171st in this year’s race. I think I could have done better if I hadn’t been photographing from my bike during the race. I never did stop, mind you! My goal is to jump 100 places in next year’s race (time to start training!).

These are all the bikes waiting to be unfolded by their respective riders at the start of the race.

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Here are the riders crossing the start line on their way to unfold their bikes.

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Here they are unfolding their bikes.
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And they’re off!

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. . . towards the palace . . .

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. . . then up the hill . . .

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. . . then down the hill . . .

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. . . then up another hill. The winning Spanish team speed by . . .

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And a few shots of the other competitors.
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This is Piers Benton, winner of the junior category.

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This is Blenheim Palace.

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And here are my new friends from Curbside Cycles in Toronto, as we did one last lap before catching the coach back to London.

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Click here to see a photoset of all my 80 favourite photos.

Follow this link to see a photoset of the rest of the photos from the weekend. I feel these photos are good but not my best work – but I have put them up so my new Brompton friends can see pix of themselves.

Visit the Brompton website to see the all the results from the race.

To find a Brompton dealer near you visit the Brompton website.

To see more of Marcus Jackson-Baker’s photos from the factory day go here and follow this link to read Marcus’s blog post about the Brompton World Championship weekend.

Banksy in London

16 Jun

Since moving to London a few years ago Banksy is an artist whose work I have become quite familiar with. It’s always a delight to happen upon an original Banksy in an unexpected place. Banksy is a prominent British graffiti artist whose work you will inevitably see as you wander the streets of London and other British cities. He has a distinctive style and his work usually contains a political comment. I took this first image “One Nation Under CCTV” somewhere north of Covent Garden.


And here is another view showing the rest of this work.


This next Banksy is just around the corner from where I live in Bethnal Green, London. In this work Banksy has diverted the double yellow line across the pavement and up the side of the building to form a flower. In the UK double yellow lines signify no parking. The building he has done this work on is the Bethnal Green Working Man’s club. With this work he got permission from the club before going ahead – apparently this is his new modus operandi.

Banksy: Double Yellow Flower

Banksy is a bit of an enigma – no one really knows who he is – but some think that the guy with the roller is him.

Back in October of 2005 a gallery in Notting Hill held an exhibition of some of Banksy’s paintings. The work consisted of versions of famous works that had been reworked by Banksy. I don’t know if he actually painted these himself or even what his process was as the work is a huge departure from his usual style. Apparently all the work sold out before the show opened. The gallery was very small and only five people were allowed in at one time. Photography was permitted.





During that show the gallery was also filled with a hundred or so live rats. The rat is an animal Banksy frequently features in his street graffiti work. I read later that the rats were relocated to a farm somewhere in the English countryside. Lucky them!




Gwilym: It’s All About The Coffee.

14 Apr

Welcome to the first episode of the starbarista podcasts. This time around we hear from Gwilym, a veteran barista with loads of experience under his belt. Having first worked in the burgeoning coffee scene in New Zealand ten years ago, he can now be found pulling espressos using Square Mile coffee at two popular London markets. starbarista recently caught up with him on Whitecross Market where his cart is open for business Monday to Friday. He is also at the Columbia Road Flower Market every Sunday. (Note: At the time of recording Gwilym was using beans from a different London roastery.)