1. New Post: Something you should see… Art of Angel at Angel tube station


    Something you should see… Art of Angel at Angel tube station

    The daily commute to and from work can make anyone stressed – peak hour travel on the London Underground anyone? So, in the absence of a Kindle, free paper or iPod – anything to brighten the mood has got to be welcomed. The Art of Angel exhibition is seeking to do just that (for the next two weeks anyway) by showcasing a selection of international artists throughout Angel tube station. Planned to coincide with the forthcoming London Art Fair, this show features a mix of urban and contemporary art – diverse in both style and technique on the station’s billboards.

    Art of Angel

    The aim to bring contemporary art to London’s harassed commuters and provide a new platform for artists to show their work is the main objective of Art Below – a London based public arts organistation. Founded in 2006, by brothers Ben and Simon Moore, the group has steadily created an alternative to the traditional art industry and gallery system. Exhibitions hosted by Art Below have taken over station platforms, lifts and escalators. Although primarily focused on emerging talent, Art Below has also collaborated with established artists including Banksy and Alison Jackson. Jackson’s mocked-up photo of a boxing match between President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney could be seen at Regent’s Park station, last year.

    Art of Angel

    As the London Underground celebrates 150 years, it seems fitting that one of its stations is transformed into a very public art gallery. Nearly three million journeys are made on the Tube each day and for those passing through Angel that journey has just been made a little bit richer. (Words: Eri Otite)

    Art of Angel at Angel tube station is on until 28 January. For more info, visit www.artbelow.org.uk


  2. Something you should do… explore London’s abandoned stations

    Love or hate it, it’s hard to deny the impact that the tube and train network has on Londoners. And with a history that spans over 160 years, it’s no surprise that the city has its share of stations that have closed over the decades. The stories behind these derelict and disused buildings is something that fascinates me, especially as many tube and train lines still run through their decaying platforms. It’s what inspired me to write Do Not Alight Here, which takes the reader on 12 walks across London to explore old stations, tunnels and more, giving you the chance to go urban exploring and experience a part of London history often ignored by guidebooks. So here are some tips for seeing these intriguing places for yourself:

    Keep your eyes peeled

    Although passed unaware by thousands every day, many abandoned tube and train stations are actually easy to spot. Seen a building with the same red bricks that many Underground stations have? It’s probably a former station. Bricked-up windows or doorways near current stations will also often be an old part no longer used.

    Do it right now

    London is forever changing. The downside is that its old stations are disappearing fast, so now’s the time to see them. Currently on the danger list are various structures behind Kings Cross, soon to be cleared as part of the re-development. Crossrail means that many old stations in the Docklands will also soon disappear, including Silvertown and North Woolwich.

    Always explore by day

    A bit of a no-brainer, but visiting old station sites in the day isn’t just a good idea because they are easier to see. Go at night and you’ll look suspicious to the beady-eyed folks that man the CCTV cameras that several sites are protected by.

    Don’t try to get inside

    The true urban explorer is one who dares to venture inside a hidden building they find. But with abandoned stations it’s not advised, so don’t even try. Most still have active train lines running through them, while many old tube stations have empty lift shafts hundreds of feet deep. This makes them very dangerous. They are also monitored by cameras, with some even part-owned by the Ministry of Defence.

    Take the Metropolitan line from Finchley Road to Liverpool Street

    Many disused stations can easily be seen by riding along the current lines, and this route is one of the best. From Finchley Road to Baker Street you’ll see the old platforms of Swiss Cottage, Marlborough Road and Lords. Later on you can find more old platforms at Kings Cross, Barbican and Moorgate, before the journey ends with an old signal box and bay platform at Liverpool Street.

    Embrace the darkness

    Peer into the darkness of the tunnels through the window when riding the tube. Simply wrap your hands around your face to block the light from the carriage and you’ll be rewarded with a glimpse of a secret London. Not convinced? Here’s an example: look out the right hand windows on a Central line train between Tottenham Court Road and Holborn, and you’ll see the remains of the platforms of British Museum station, closed 1933. (Words: Ben Pedroche)


  3. 5 reasons why…I need to regularly visit the countryside

    Sometimes I’ll just be walking down the street and I’m mad. Like Grrrrrrr. Like, “come within an inch of me and I’MMA GO TO JAIL TODAY!” while Ludacris’s Move Bitch is resonating loudly in my head. You know that feeling? Mmmmm hmmmm. Well, that’s what I call Londonitis – a condition which means you express an extreme dislike to the capital of England because it’s getting on your last nerve. There are international versions too – Newyawkitis, Losangelitis - in big cities mainly (and I wish I was not making this up, because you know it makes sense). So this is why I’m off to Surrey for a much-overdue, three day weekend because:

    1) The London Underground. Listen - you need to be trained to use it properly, and there are many that don’t know how to. If you don’t, God be with you, because a couple of us with that Londonitis will finish you off pronto, like those Darkseekers in I Am Legend (coming out of crevices and everything).  So you’ve got to always stand on the right of the escalator, do not crowd the bottleneck of the platform (there is always space to the left or right – just MOVE ALONG), and when you get on the train, please don’t crowd the entrance where there’s clear space down the aisles. Why would you do this? You LIKE someone’s armpit in your face? Well good for you - we all have our vices.   But I’m tired of dealing with rule breakers every blessed day, seven days a week, 365.  I’m out!

    2) The High Streets. Similarly, this is to do with overcrowding, and that occasional sense of claustrophobia I get when there are way too many people up in this place. And the problem is, there are some shoppers that walk around with no sense of purpose - just milling around and taking everything in, smiling like it’s completely okay to be pedestrian in a busy area as opposed to ushering you and your fam in a corner,  working out your destination and doing your best to get there as swiftly as possible. This is not a science, just courtesy. It’s a shame many forget this is LDN, and we’ll come with that POW! if you do not get to stepping! (I’m talking a good old fashioned shoulder slam  - not gun/knife violence folks, Lethal Bizzle’s just kidding - side glance).

    3)  The contradiction of Hyde Park (and many of the others). I love Hyde Park, I really do – it’s actually one of my favourites because I live in West. But apparently it’s unhealthy to jog there because of the surrounding traffic – so those poor trees cannot knock suck up that amount of CO2 to help us, and I might one day be jogging with a water bottle in one hand and an inhaler in the other. Terrible. 1-0 to the Countryside.

    4) The noise.  I’ve sort of grown accustomed to the sounds of traffic lulling me to sleep when it’s time to go to bed. But every now and then there’s that ONE dude. Drunk. Loud. 3am. Talking about “SANDRA BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH SHURRRRRUP! I LOVE YOU!” Who is this dude? And where is the police? He aint romantic, talking about shut-up, I love you!  I can’t STAND him! (hate’s too strong of a word, but believe me when I say the sentiment is close).

    5) It’s really quite lovely. That’s the British countryside, not the delirium of London. And seeing that Surrey’s only an hour away, that’s a mere hop, skip and a jump to fresh air, good food, lovely fields and a good night’s sleep. And no mobile phone! (Yep!) You’ll see the pictures next Wednesday and see exactly what I mean.

    PS: I do love London :-) (but  you know there’s a thin line, c’mon now!)