By Jennifer Kavanagh
Not having walked along Mortimer Street for a while — I generally prefer the quieter side streets — I was delighted to come across “Where Creativity lives”: a photographic exhibition on the hoardings, hiding, and sometimes including a peephole into, the building works of the old hospital site.
We may not like what is going on behind it, but what a rich portrait of London this exhibition gives us, expressing the reasons why many of us live here. Spacious billboards with a myriad of images by different photographers: a small boy sitting on the steps of the Underground, reading a book; a bent elderly woman crossing the road, the anxiety on her face reflected in the limpness of her shopping bag trailed behind her. Yes, there are the grand streets with union flags, but also two people sitting in a café in the Wigmore Hall. Most of human life scurries past without a glance – but, take a look: we are there!
Walking round the block between showers on a warm but blustery evening, I was surprised to see that the walkway connecting Langham Street to Portland Place was open. Given that the “World” piazza, the open air space in front of the new glass entrance, is not due to be open until April 2013, I did not expect to be able to walk through the handsome square. Nor to see an intriguing piece of art on the pavement (created apparently by Mark Pimlott), consisting of stone flags inscribed with over 750 place names from around the world. The names make sombre reading, with many evoking scenes of conflict and destruction, from Bhopal to Srebenica, Coventry to Auschwitz, although some like Arno and Everest have a different kind of resonance. I don’t know the criteria for inclusion, but very much enjoyed the experience of walking slowly through the names. Take a look.