Tag Archives: Street Art

The Crescent City (Part 2)

If you’re reading this before Part 1, you have to ask yourself ‘Why?’. The title should really provide the clue. Come on, people. Anyhow, where was I? Ah yes, the posh bit….

One sunny morning saw us catching the Rampart-St.Claude Street Car to the Warehouse District, where we stopped for a pleasant lunch at Maypop (apparently the crispy fried bourbon oysters were the highlight – I wouldn’t know, since they’ve decided they disagree with me. And I used to think we got along so well!). Switching to the St. Charles Street Car, we continued into the Garden District. This is where you’ll find the homes of the rich and famous (alive and dead): Sandra Bullock, John Goodman, Michel Musson (uncle of Degas), Archie Manning (former Saints quarterback*), Nicholas Cage, Jefferson Davis (first and only President of the short-lived Confederate States of America) and Beyonce & Jay-Z all live/have lived in the area. You can also find the home where Anne Rice wrote Interview with a Vampire, as well as various historic buildings such as the Women’s Opera Guild. The architecture is a mixture of Gothic Revival, Italianate and Creole, with a few Reconstruction-era and Swiss Germanic properties (Bullock’s) thrown in. As well as ogling intricate wrought iron fences, doric columns and the like, you can also browse the pretty independent shops along Magazine street.

And you can find some amazing restaurants in the Garden District. If you’re looking for down-and-dirty, then the alligator hotdogs and chilli fries at Dat Dog are pretty special, whilst the best gumbo and blue crab beignets can be had at La Petite Grocery. On a previous visit, we also dined at Shaya, a fantastic modern Israeli place. Both of the latter two have won coveted James Beard awards in recent years.

I seem to have omitted The French Quarter so far. The buzzing heart of the city, Vieux Carre is a story of two halves: part elegant townhouses, leafy squares, antique shops and art galleries; part mad, boozy, vulgar nights out on Bourbon Street (the clean-up operation each morning is pretty epic). We happily avoided the latter side, choosing instead to frequent bars in calmer parts of the city. I spent many a happy morning stroll around the Quarter though, taking the short walk from our homestay to Jackson Square, meandering between Decatur, Royal, Chartres and Dauphine Streets, admiring the handsome buildings, gawping at St. Louis Cathedral, and smiling at institutions like Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo and Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (one of the oldest surviving structures in New Orleans). We also had a successful shopping trip in the Quarter on our final day, stuffing our suitcases full of purchases.

The culinary highlight of the holiday was, unexpectedly, in the Quarter. Longway Tavern is a brilliant bar and restaurant on Toulouse Street, with a captivating open-air courtyard and some of the best cocktails around. I’d recommend their shrimp toast and the pork chop, if they’re still on the menu. And you MUST try a muffuletta for lunch from Central Grocery. The king of sandwiches!

Finally, it’s worth getting out of the city (if you can tear yourself away) to head into the Louisiana wetlands. We had a truly memorable morning kayaking in Shell Bank Bayou in Manchec Swamp. You can easily organise transport through various companies. Despite a mixed weather forecast (you can never trust the forecast in this State!), we were treated to stunning blue skies, which showed off the clear water, green algae, cypress and tupelo trees in all their glory. Two alligators were spotted, along with white egret, turtles and a blue heron. My photos from that excursion can be found here.

And I haven’t even talked about the main reason we were in the city: the 50th Anniversary of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. I won’t wax lyrical, but suffice to say we had an amazing three days. As well as catching a range of lesser-known bluegrass, jazz, soul, gospel and funk acts on the various stages, following Mardi Gras Indian tribes as they paraded the grounds, and eating my body weight in food (soft-shell crab po’boy; crawfish monica; red beans & rice; beignets piled high with icing sugar; and redfish baquet…to name just a few), we joined the hoards for Kamasi Washington, Chris Stapleton, Tank & the Bangas, John Cleary, Buddy Guy and Diana Ross (the latter surprisingly good, choosing a crowd-pleasing set covering all of her hits and managing at least five costume changes in 90 minutes). For me, the highlight was Trombone Shorty’s festival-closing set, featuring the Neville Brothers. Nothing better than jumping around to ‘Hurricane Season’ as the sun sets.

*Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?

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The Crescent City (Part 1)

I don’t know how to begin to explain quite how much I love New Orleans. It’s gotten under my skin in a way no other city ever has. Of all the magical, exciting, beautiful, wonderful places I’ve visited in the world, my heart belongs to NOLA. If America would only provide more reasonable annual leave entitlement…I’d move there tomorrow! As it is, I’ll have to settle for regular visits every few years. This was my third, and probably my favourite so far. The sun shone, pretty much relentlessly, for the whole trip (bar a short-lived thunderstorm early one morning) and the city popped with colour. Wandering around the streets, listening to the trills of jazz, blues, zydeco and gospel emanating from open doorways, you can’t help but have a smile on your face. And snap away on your camera every few steps. It is just the most photogenic place.

We stayed, as always, in the delightfully laid-back neighbourhood (faubourg) of Marigny. Once a Creole plantation, the area became the second historic zoned area of the city after the Vieux Carre (French Quarter). It’s full of Classical Revival and Creole houses, rocking chairs swaying gently on their front porches; flags proudly displaying the fleur-de-lis (the symbol of post-Katrina pride in the city); Mardi Gras beads hanging from pretty much every railing and tree branch; and enough cute coffee shops, bars, and restaurants to shake a stick at.

Particular culinary delights in the area include: the okra with bagna cauda at Bywater American Bistro (BAB); the short rib steak at The Franklin; the smoked catfish dip at Bacchanal; and the lump crab eggs benedict at Paladar 511. The gumbo ya-ya at St. Roch’s Market was ok too, though not the best version we had on the trip (see Part 2 for that recommendation). Incidentally, I know there’s dispute over the name of this staple of the New Orleans diet – gumbo ya-ya meaning “everyone talks at once” and referring to a loud community or political gathering. But given that’s the term used on many respected restaurants’ menus, I ain’t gonna argue. In terms of where to drink, the handsome courtyard at The Elysian Bar is a great place for cocktails and their wine list is curated by the people at Bacchanal, itself boasting the best outdoor seating in the city…with live music every night and the best festoon lighting action around.

Further out of our ‘hood, we explored Algiers for the first time – the only ward of New Orleans located on the west bank of the Mississippi. It’s a very short boat ride from the bottom of Canal Street, aboard one of the country’s oldest ferry lines, and is well worth a visit. Wandering around the cute parish, you begin to think you’re on a film set. Everything is pristine and peaceful, and the mishmash of bright homes, small wooden churches, art-deco theatres, and quirky dive bars is beguiling. We ambled round, stopping in the friendly One Stone cafe for a spot of lunch and delicious cinnamon morning bun, trying to decide if Algiers had taken the crown from Marigny (conclusion: no…but it was a close call!).

I’ll stop there for now, and cover some other highlights in Part 2. Here’s a (severely edited – honest!) first selection of photos from the trip…starting with a picture of the house on Mandeville Street in which we stayed.

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Credit: Street Art of girl on trail track – Chris Adnitt

 

Mausoleum of the Giants

I love a good “immersive sculptural experience”, me. Doesn’t everyone? So when a trip to visit family in Sheffield last weekend coincided with artist Phlegm’s time-limited installation, I was pleased as punch.

Phlegm is a Welsh-born but Sheffield-based muralist, cartoonist and street artist who first developed his illustrations in self-published comics. As well as being able to spot his creations around the Steel City, you’ve also at various times been able to catch him in Shoreditch. He’s bold and exciting; his work dripping with Tim Burton-esque macabre.

The gigantic creations that formed part of this particular event were littered throughout an abandoned warehouse, not far from Kelham Island. We cannily avoided the two-hour queue by arriving just in time to sneak in with the first tranche of the day. You get about half an hour inside, all-in-all, but need every second of that to explore the various nooks and crannies of the factory (itself an impressively atmospheric wonder, soon to be gutted and turned into flats) and gawp in awe at the huge sculptures.

It was difficult to do the exhibition justice on film, and properly convey the scale, but here are a few snaps of his fabulous work.

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[Second photo (foot): Credit – Alison Groombridge]

 

I Am Not A Wall

All things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light” – Leonardo da Vinci

IMG_4078Hoxton, London

photo 2East Dulwich, London

Havava (6)Havana, Cuba

IMG_0306Reykjavik, Iceland

IMG_9065Old Street, London

photobullBrixton, London

photo new crossNew Cross, London

IMG_2502Shoreditch, London

IMG_2512Brick Lane, London

IMG_4034Hackney, London

NYC Streets

It would be a travesty to fail to post some of my pictures of Street Art in New York. Sorry to those who continue to think this is just obnoxious graffiti. You’re wrong.  But sorry anyway.

So, here are some snaps taken mainly around Williamsburg, the Lower East Side and Meatpacking District:

IMG_3263Yes, I Do

IMG_4873Family Portrait

IMG_4729See no, hear no, speak no

IMG_4725Brooklyn, Baby!

IMG_4716Here’s Looking At You

IMG_3241Jim-Jiminy

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At Least I Know I’m Free

IMG_4897Taking the High Line

IMG_3254Tenement Roots

IMG_4734Sacred Warrior

IMG_4720To Flea or Not to Flea

IMG_4735What’s Up Pussy Cat?

IMG_4708Sci-fi Stylee