The tours to see London's abandoned and unused tube stations and other underground areas fully book well in advance. I booked a ticket to Clapham South last spring, and the time finally came for me to go on the tour last week. Clapham South is the site of bunkers and air raid shelters that we constructed for World War II during the Blitz when the German planes were bombing London. A few of these shelters were constructed along the northern line and central line, but many were never completed. Clapham South was built to house 8,000 people (although they wished it to be more at the time). It was built to stand against a direct hit from a 500lb bomb. London Transport Museum have a lease to turn these tunnels into a visitor attraction.

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There are two entrances to the air raid shelters. One entrance to the air raid shelter is in the common park area on the other side of the entrance to present day's Clapham South underground station (between Clapham South and Clapham Common stations). The round concrete and brick wall is immediately visible. The other one is covered in white tiles and located in a parade of shops, and this is the entrance that we used in the tour. 

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After climbing down 180 stairs, we were led to an area where the history of the tunnels was discussed and saw the original signs that detailed the names of the tunnels and locations of medical, post, and canteen facilities. The tunnels for the shelter are directly underneath the northern line train tunnels. (They intended to use these for faster train service after the war, but this never happened.) Each stretch of tunnel had a name of a famous colonel or other militiary mastermind. The names were in alphabetical order so that people could easily find their way around. Each parallel tunnel also had a colour (red or blue).

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The first room we stopped off to see was the medical room. This still had the tap and tiling for the sink, but the sink was missing.

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We were then shown the first stretch of tunnel, which is left virtually empty. The tunnels were dug by hand. The rings in the tunnels here are made of re-inforced concrete because metal was scarace during the war.

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Between some of the tunnels (which run parallel) was a small area with a table, and it was known as the recreation area.

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The tour then went on to another tunnel area filled with beds. The beds are the original ones on the right-hand side of the below image. On the left, the beds were arranged to fold up and placed length-ways down the tunnel.

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People who needed a bed for the night were given a tunnel name and bed number. They had to bring their own bedding. The numbers of the beds can be seen on the frames. Life in the shelters was apparently not too bad because the beds had springs, and loudspeakers in the tunnels meant that music could be played during the day. However, life was regimented and people had to be awake by 7:00am.

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After World War II, the shelters were used for awhile by those who lost their homes and also for youth groups to stay in as well as for accommodation for 1951 Festival of Britain, which was held on South Bank. Some of the grafitti can be seen from those staying. The tunnels were also used by immigrants from Jamaica as accommodation; these immigrants were shipped over to help rebuilding after the war, and this explains why this area of London has a large Afro-Caribbean community. Today, the shelters store archives. Up the road at Clapham Common, the tunnels for the shelters are used to grow salad.

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We walked down more tunnels of rows of beds and shelving created to store archives.

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One of the tunnels had the canteen at the beginning of it. The canteen has been removed, but its location can be seen as well as a fuse board that reads "Buffet Fuse" on it.

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We also were shown the men's toilets, which is just an empty room. We could see where the stalls and urinals were. We were also told how the sewage was pumped out as these tunnels are well below sewage lines. Air would be used blast the sewage up.

In between the tunnels, we were also told were a set of stairs that would go to the northern line platforms. These were used by workers who stayed in the tunnels during the war.

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The last room we saw was the control room, which contained some old phones.

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Have you toured Clapham South shelters?

Lush currently have new products in store for their Mother's Day and Easter ranges. Some of these are new products, and some of them are old favourites. Sadly, I no longer have a Lush store near me, but I popped into one a couple of weeks ago to buy some items and to see what was on offer. In no particular order, my discoveries are below.

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Mum: This is a bath bomb in pastel pink and green with the word 'Mum' on it. It is created with Lemon, orange, and rose.

Baa Bar: This is a bubble bar with lavender, rose, and ylang ylang to offer a soothing bath. It is in the shape of a cute sheep.

Elsie the Giraffe (You're Having a Bath): This reusable bath bubble bar creates bubbles when placed under running water. It has a citrus scent.

Your Mother Should Know: This bath bomb is bright blue, yellow and pink with a floral design. It has a floral scent.

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Golden Egg: This bath bomb melt features a shimmery gold egg, and it's been an Easter product for a couple of years now. 

Which Came First: This bath bomb is a pink and yellow egg with a surprise inside. It has refreshing citrus tones. This is similar to their previous Easter egg products, but the eggs have a different design and colours this year.

Bunch of Carrots: These reusable bubble bar carrots are bright orange, pink, and purple, and they come in a bunch. This Easter product has been on sale for at least three years now; the first year that I encountered them, they were orange only. The last couple of years, they have introduced more colours.

Chick 'n' Mix: This bath bomb comes in three separate parts. The 'egg' shell breaks in two to reveal a bath bomb chick in the middle. This is a new product.

Chocolate Easter Egg: This soap is shaped like a giant Easter egg, painted yellow and green and pink. It has a sweet chocolate scent.

Love You Lots: This soap was launched earlier in the year for Valentine's Day, and it smells like roses.

This week, we were treated to a new and striking street art mural on Hanbury Street by Dale Grimshaw. Dale Grimshaw had previously painted (in collaboration with Mark Hat) this same wall a years ago with the same humanitarian cause and a similar portrait. More recently, he has also painted the Village Underground wall. This humanitarian cause is to help the people of Papua New Guinea. (I originally covered Dale Grimshaw's earlier work in my blog post here.)

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The mural is created because Dale Grimshaw has a new exhibition at Well Hung Gallery called 'Pride and Prejudice'.

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This is a colourful work with the subject painted in bright red and yellow body and face paint and colourful jewelery. The background is painted in black with gold pattern, which makes the subject the highlight. It can be found at the corner of Brick Lane and Hanbury Street.

A few weeks ago, street artist Ant Carver pasted a few new portraits up around Brick Lane. The artist did the same last year with his series of paste-ups in the dreary month of January (and also continued to add a few more during the course of the year), and I covered that work in my post here. Carver, based in London, normally uses oils to paint. His choice of subject is portraits, and these are finished off with bright colours. The photographs below are of the most recent works by Ant Carver. Sadly, most of these have been pasted over or have been weathered now.

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Carver only pasted a few pieces around this time. Redchurch Street, Sclater Street, and Brick Lane were the areas where the works were pasted up. Hopefully, we will see more work from Ant Carver later in the year.

The finalists for the Fourth Plinth for 2018 and 2020 have been launched at the end of January this year, and they are on display at the National Gallery until 26 March. The winners will have their artwork displayed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square for a couple of years. Visitors can vote for their favourite sculpture. In 2013, a similar unveiling of the finalists took place with the two winners having their designs displayed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. I covered this in my blog post here, and the designs from that year included the current Fourth Plinth design (Really Good) and a skeleton horse

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This time, we have five different commissions.

Michael Rakowitz: The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist
A winged bull diety used to exist at the entrance of the date of Nineveh from 700BC until February of 2015 when it was destroyed by terrorist group ISIS along with other important artefacts and the museum. This was a destruction of art, history, and culture. This work rebuilds the Lamassu winged bull.

Damian Ortega: High Way
Inspired by public sculptures being created on a monumental scale to be seen from a distance, this work features an imbalance. The objects include a Volkswagen van, ladders, scaffolding and oil drums. These are imbalanced and raised high, showing that these everyday objects can be used to create art when the budget is tight. 

Heather Phillipson: The End
The cherry and cream on top features parasites (a fly and a drone) perched on top. This also relates to Trafalgar Square being a shared experience where protests can happen and people come together. The work offers movement, noise, technology, and video. 

Huma Bhabha: Untitled
Bhabha explains that the work begins with a process of revealing the concepts buried in the materials. In this piece, the artist finds a science fiction character or superhero. It is made of cork and polystyrene.

Raqs Media Collective: The Emperor's Old Clothes
The artists conceptualised that plinths are created to elevate powerful people. This sculpture depicts draped robe as a reminder of power, empty echoing the clothed figure. 

Previous Fourth Plinth installations that materialised into reality include:

2016: Really Good
2015: A horse skeleton with a stock ticker tape
2014: A giant blue rooster
2012: A boy on a rocking horse
2011: Ships in a bottle
2009: members of the public were encouraged to do their own 'thing' on the plinth
2005: limbless pregnant female

Ice cream company Milk Train is creating very Instagram-able ice cream creations. The company opened up at the beginning of August in Covent Garden last year, and it is still proving a hit with Londoners who queued early last Sunday in order to get a taste. Milk Train offer three flavours a day; vanilla and matcha are always on offer, and there is a special flavour daily. On the day, it was blueberry. I opted for the matcha because I do like green tea, but I also wanted a pretty photograph.

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The ice cream is soft serve, and it can come in a cone or a cup. Adding the fluffy cotton candy (candy floss) cloud costs extra (1 pound), and additional toppings can be added for 50 pence each. Additional toppings included Oreo crumbs, popcorn, sprinkles, strawberry crunch, salted caramel chips, mixed nuts, puffed rice, red bean, flake, and Hello Panda biscuits. I choose raindrops, Hello Panda biscuits, and rainbow sprinkles.

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I watched the ice cream being made. For those who opted for the cotton candy around the cone, the cone itself was put into the cotton candy (candy floss) machine to create the cloud.

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The venue was very busy and a queue formed with many people coming to see the creations and get photographs of them. I must say that the creations do look really photograph-able. When I have to review the taste, the ice cream creations do not taste as good as they look; however, I don't think cotton candy (candy floss) and ice cream go together well anyway.

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Milk Train is located on Bedford Street in Covent Garden (London). They are closed on Mondays but open from 13:00 every day of the week. They are open until 21:00 until Thursday and then open until 22:00 on Friday and Saturday. Sunday's hours are shorter, and they shut at 20:00. This is a place to go for the photographs and selfies and if you like to keep your Instagram account beautiful.

One of London's newest permanent art exhibits is "Paper Aviary", located in St. James' Market off Jermyn Street and Regent Street, a short walk from Piccadilly Circus. "Paper Aviary" pays tribute to the exotic birdcages that used to line Birdcage Walk in St. James' Park. The tradition of birdcages and the aviary in St. James' Park was started by Charles II who installed the aviary here in the 1600s. Today, St. James' Park continues with the bird tradition in that pelicans and other colourful birds can be seen in the parks; however, the aviary and birdcages themselves no longer exist. 

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The installation "Paper Aviary" was created and designed by dn&co in collaboration with Argentinian studip Guardabosques. It captures the bright green hanging parrots, red and yellow lories and lorikeets and huge cassowaries as paper creations. In the 17th century (before the Internet and photography), many people would never have seen these exotic birds, so I had trouble imagining how magical a visit to the aviary would have been for them.

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Keeping in line with the fashion design that is regarded highly in this area of London (St. James), the birds have been created out of paper with fashionable patterns. They are all unique and going about their 'life' behind the glass in their little boxes. Some fly, and some hold onto a branch; others dive while others stand or perch.

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When inside the aviary (or standing just outside), the experience is heightened further with birdsong. Birds chirp happily while examining the collection.

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The "Paper Aviary" is on display from 15 February until 3 May and features 118 birds in red, yellow, green, orange, and blue paper - all decorated with their unique patterns from Turnbull & Asser to modern zebra print from Tiger of Sweden's latest collection.

Last month, the streets around Brick Lane in London received some colour in the form of new paste-ups by Donk, Ben Rider (Zombiesqueegee), and Aida Wilde. All of these paste-ups appeared together overnight. Ben Rider is an illustrator who has worked on high-profile works for television, music, and consumer brands. His illustrations are eye-catching and comic style, and he often prints with flourescent ink. Donk uses photography to create paste-ups. Some of these are images with historical context and imagery, which are often placed with new graphics and inks on the sepia-toned background. Others are collages (such as the radio and man's portrait with the pattern over the top) or an image of a young woman painting a model of a house. Aida Wilde's work is primarily printing, and she creates work with bright typography (the "Daddy I Want" series) as well as portraits of animals (the tiger).

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Many of the paste-ups can still be seen, although some of them have been ripped slightly. Check around Star Yard and the streets that intersect with Brick Lane.

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I hope to be seeing more work by these artists in the future.

Dan Kitchener on Goswell Road

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I recently discovered a large mural by street artist Dan Kitchener on Goswell Road in Clerkenwell, London. Dan Kitchener is one of London's busiest street artists. He paints street scenes illuminated at night, and a lot of his street scenes feature the streets of Tokyo, Japan (and other Japanese cities). This is one of the largest walls that I have seen with Dan Kitchener's work. It features a crowd of silhouttes carrying umbrellas in a night-time scene of a Tokyo street.

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This work is located on Goswell Road near Clerkenwell Street.

My previous post featured the work of Otto Schade and his "Elephutterfly" mural on Hanbury Street. The end of last week brought a new mural at the end of Hanbury Street off Brick Lane. This work by Chilean artist Otto Schade (or Osch as he signs his art) is completed in the arti's ribbon style of painting. The subject incorporates street furniture into the artwork and features a giant hand pinching a CCTV sign (which is the actual CCTV survelliance sign). The work is titled "The CCTV Camera Sign". Finding street art that incorporates some detail of the street or wall into the piece is always fun.

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Additonal posts on this blog with Otto Schade's work are:

Elephutterfly
Peace and Love on the Streets
Zany Zebras and Street Art in Southampton
Winter 2015 - 2016 Street Art Round-up
New Street Art (Portraits, Meercats and More)
Spring and Summer 2015
Bristol Upfest 2015
Summer 2014 Street Art
Early Spring 2014 Street Art Round-up
Horror Crew, Otto Schade, HIN and others
Street Art: Otto Schade
Olympics

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