online: 13 june 2007
modified: 13 june 2007

2 june 2007 street culture

the south bank (of the Thames)

(my place of good accidents, ever since i worked here at the Festival of Britain, 1951)

walking here today i encountered two unexpected events: street art and street music... i looked down from one of the two new footbridges over the Thames i saw a life-sized copy of Botticelli's Primavera, apparently painted on the pavement beneath... and a second large painting in progress beside it...

...beside the Primavera was the chalked message 'ten day's work'... and many people were stopping to look at it... i felt that it is in some way better than the original in a gallery just because it is here, in the street, confronting life as it is... unexpectedly!

...i spoke to the artist, Emma McNally... she says the paintings are on canvas and she takes them away each night and tapes them to the pavement again in the morning... (the link above is to her website) i looked again at this huge painting, closely resembling the original except in its location, i could hear some mighty percussion music beneath the other footbridge...

13 june 2007
...but now i can't find the piece of paper on which i wrote notes of this... what i remember is the great vitality of the leader of the group of five or six people making this tremendous sound... and the way he gently stopped the music now and then to show one or other of the musicians how to get wholly into the rhythm... and how he moved (while continuing to play his drum) to guide one of the two or three passers-by who had started to dance with the sound... a microcosm of all music, all composing, and all education, it seemed to me, in that hectic and pervasive other-world of loud and never ending rhythm... and care for others...

(i normally do not much like pure percussion music, but this i did!)

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