Tag Archives: Borough Market

London Slant: A waterfall of wool meets Edmund de Waal ceramics

A waterfall of wool comes cascading down into London’s Southwark Cathedral. It’s as if the heavens have opened and streamed in.

Angela Wright. Southwark Cathedral

Forty Days: Angela Wright’s 152-kilo wool installation in London’s Southwark Cathedral.

This is Forty Days, an installation by Angela Wright, and one of two that make up the cathedral’s annual art programme for Lent. The curdling wool drops from above the Great Screen behind the altar to pool in foaming rivulets on the sanctuary floor. I was struck by its resemblance to the world’s tallest plunge of water—Venezuela’s Angel Falls—quite appropriate since Forty Days descends between gold cherubim.

Tomb in Southwark Cathedral

Candlelit tombs flank Angela’s Wright’s installation.

Its creamy texture echoes the wax of votive candles flickering by the ancient tombs on either side. Yet it is also light and fluffy, and calls to mind spring lambs or a baby’s christening shawl. Rebirth, the cycle of life, the seasons: there’s much to contemplate while admiring the exuberance of this piece.

Behind the sanctuary the atmosphere darkens. Shafts of light strain to illuminate low archways above flagstones with bodies buried beneath. This is where artist/writer Edmund de Waal, who shot to fame with his family biography The Hare with Amber Eyes, has positioned translucent vitrines with his signature white ceramics inside. An air of mystery surrounds these 12 freestanding pieces, their simple contents barely visible within.

Edmund de Waal Southwark Cathedral

Now we see through a mirror dimly: Edmund de Waal’s installation, Another Day.

Both artists live and work within the Diocese of Southwark. They’ve clearly spent time absorbing the cathedral’s special atmosphere, and reflect it in works that capture both its ebullience and calm.

Angela Wright Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral nave, with Forty Days visible behind.

Beyond these installations, there’s so much to admire elsewhere in the cathedral: the carved wooden effigy of a knight, a stained glass window of Chaucer’s pilgrims gathering for their journey and wonderfully rude ceiling bosses.

Southwark Catherdal

The ceiling bosses are a particular treat.

And as an added bonus, when you step back outside into the dazzling sunlight, the heaving crowds lead to Borough Market and a row of food stalls. It’s time to grab a falafel or masala dosa and take a seat beneath the Southwark spires for lunch.

Southwark Cathedral Borough Market

The spires of Southwark, the perfect spot for a Borough Market lunch.

Angela Wright and Edmund de Waal will give free Sunday talks on their work. Angela’s talk is on 16 March, and Edmund’s on 23 March. Both take place in the cathedral, after Choral Eucharist, at 12.45pm. While the art remains on display the cathedral cat,  Doorkins Magnificat, has gone on a Lenten retreat (she’ll be back at Easter). It may be just as well. What a soft playground all that wool would have been.

London Slant: Eat, Pray, Buy—with the farmers at Guy’s Hospital

Tuesday mornings see a farmers’ market set up shop at Guy’s Hospital near London Bridge. So come one sunny lunchtime I decided to check it out. Business was booming at stalls selling sizzling sausages (hand reared pork, no doubt) and cupcakes (the herdsman must have been at the Aga all day). The few displays of fresh vegetables were largely ignored.

London Bridge Farmers' Market

Shoppers ignore the food display and cluster round the sausage grill at London Bridge Farmers’ Market.

Not wishing to go against the flow, I made for the paella stand. The produce of the paddy fields surrounding London was bubbling up a treat. I bought a boxful and found a peaceful seat among trees whose fragile leaves fluttered against a brilliant sky. Georgian buildings including the aptly-named Shepherd’s House formed an elegant backdrop. It may have been more al fresco food court than fresh produce for sale, but I began to warm to this pretty hideaway in the shadow of the Shard.

Guy's Hospital Chapel

Glowing upper galleries of the 18th century Guy’s Hospital chapel.

Lunch over, I walked on to the 18th century Guy’s Hospital Chapel, and pushed open the door. Dark recesses with mosaic panels of angels led towards the altar, where a row of windows—some with fabulous stained glass—flooded the upper storey with light.

Guy's hospital

Marble memorial to the colourful Thomas Guy, founder of Guy’s Hospital in 1724, shown helping a sick, poor man.

I turned round and there behind me was a sculpture of the hospital’s founder, Thomas Guy. It’s a striking monument, showing him helping up a sick man from a gutter. I later discovered how appropriate this characterful memorial is: Guy made money selling illegal bibles, rode the crest of the Georgian stock market, yet was so concerned about the poor he set up this hospital for “incurables”.

Continuing my ramble I discovered how the story of Guy’s, not to mention British medicine, unfurls through the buildings on this site. As well as a looming tower block there’s a woven metallic structure known as the “wasps’ nest” that houses the pharmacy. A specialist cancer centre is being built nearby. All around are plaques and artworks that shed light on the hospital’s history, from statues of worthies to imaginative representations of medical triumphs.

Bronze statue of poet John Keats, who trained as a surgeon at Guy's. His two companions told me that the alcove was originally part of the previous London Bridge.

Bronze statue of poet John Keats, who trained as a surgeon at Guy’s. His two companions told me that the alcove was originally part of the previous London Bridge.

Guy's Hospital

The “wasps’ nest” building at the main entrance to Guy’s Hospital.

As I headed back through the market at last I spotted what had brought me here: a stall selling vegetables that looked as though they’d been picked that morning. I bought a bag of leafy kale that turned out to be absolutely delicious. So I’ll definitely return for lunch and a bunch—with a dash of history—when the sun comes out another day.

London Bridge Farmers’ Market  is at Memorial Arch Square, Guy’s Hospital, less than 5 minutes on foot from London Bridge tube station. Tuesdays, 9am—2pm