Archive for the ‘Art’ Category


Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
While I was down checking out the Wheel last night, I ran into yet another film shoot. Fox seemed to have taken over the whole of the ORNC, which appeared to be standing in for Whitehall. Two miserable looking ‘sentries’ in bearskins stood as sundry meeja types buzzed around what I assume were the stars. I’m guessing they’re the girls in the mac and suit.
Being the sad Phantom I am, I had no idea who these people were, so I asked a security guard (always ask the security guards – they love to talk…) what the show was. It’s apparently Bones, A Sky 1 series…

Well, there you go. As you can see from the photos, a somewhat smaller affair than Wolfman, but since they’re all over the ORNC I’d guess there are lots of scenes being shot at once.

Aaaaarrroooo! Wolf Man’s at the Park – And The Moon’s A Balloon

Friday, June 6th, 2008

Greenwich Park, sometime creepy-o’clock…

What I love about writing this blog is that all I have to do is moan I don’t have information or pictures about something – and all you lovely people rush to my assistance. We were discussing the massive night shoots for Wolf Man (starring, among others Benicio del Torro, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving and all-purpose-horror-bug-a-boo-these-days Anthony Hopkins) in the park. I happened to mention I had no pics, and voila!

Vicky sent me these daytime pics – you’d never know this wall wasn’t part of the whole Greenwich Park furniture, would you – especially since it’s all night-shoots anyway. Just plywood and paint, folks, just plywood and paint. Then there is a very strange picture by Benedict of some kind of War of the Worlds alien invasion:

But what intrigues me most is this strange orb, which Vicky reckons looks like something out of Doctor Who:

Although my first thought was that it’s one of those giant paper lampshades; I can only assume that it’s actually a balloon, that during the shoot gets dangled over the set as that all-important moon. Aw, C’mon – it’s Wolf Man – you gotta have a moon…

Then Simon sent me the oddest pic of all:

Don’t get excited, UFO-spotters. He tells me “it’s a helium-filled moon balloon – held down by the three weights and there’s a coil of wire underneath it connected to a box of electricity.”

To top it off, I received this from SweetsandRuby. We mere mortals can’t get into the park at night for any closeups, but that’s not going to stop S&R. And even at this distance it’s quite a view…

Of course – if there are any Phantom-readers out there who happen to be film crew/actors/park rangers etc, then I won’t object at all to any more pics ;-)

Which brings me to that giant shindig at the ORNC last night. Any Phantom-readers who also happen to be hedge fund investors (I get a lot of them, you know…) and were gaily snapping away, send ‘em my way, baby…

Wolf Man Yet Again

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

In a wonderful piece of seredipity, I’ve had equal numbers of people asking me what was going on overnight in Greenwich Park last weekend and people telling me what was going on overnight in Greenwich Park last weekend…

Yes, folks, it’s Wolf Man again. As usual, night shots (obviously – it’s about a werewolf…) but this time in the flower garden. Maggie reckons she’s never seen so much kit anwhere. What – even when Wolf Man was down at the ORNC, Maggie? Blimey…

I’d include pics to go with this, but once again Blogger’s playing up…


Yet more filming…

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Ross says:

“On my way to work this morning I noticed umpteen lorry loads of filming equipment being unloaded at the top of Point Hill into the small park behind where I live (on your right as you get to the top of Point Hill – the name escapes me having only just moved there recently). I wonder if it’s related to the goings on down in the Maritime area?”

The Phantom replies:

Goodness – not again! That will be the Point you’re talking about. I have no idea what it’s for this time. I walked up to the Point a few days ago only to find, once I’d huffed and puffed my way up there, the whole place overtaken with meeja types in square glasses telling me I couldn’t go in, and giant cameras creating ‘sun’ on what seemed to be a perfectly sunny day. When I had a couple of friends to stay recently we couldn’t get into the Painted Hall because they were filming a Japanese biscuit commercial. And that’s not even beginning to count biggies like Wolf Man, The Golden Compass and The Duchess. Heavens to Murgatroyd.

Do you think that Greenwich Film Unit aren’t charging enough or something? I mean it’s nice to see the place being used – but there doesn’t seem to be a day in the calendar that somewhere isn’t out of bounds. I might as well move to Pinewood…

On a slightly less grumpy note, though, you do get to meet some interesting folk. Here is, for no other reason than he made me smile a lot, a security guard on the set of Wolf Man, giving me his impression of the Hairy One himself.

Uncanny, eh…

Treasures of Tudor England

Friday, April 25th, 2008

The Sixteen, Royal Naval Chapel, last night (sorry…)

It’s officially called the 2008 “Choral Pilgrimage,” but I couldn’t bring myself to use a title that square on one of my posts. Why do classical artists have to continually shoot themselves in the foot by being so bloomin’ po-faced all the time? I guess it’s worse the other way – Nigel Kennedy with his ‘punk’ hairdo; a bunch of girls singing opera having to call themselves ‘babes’ to get gigs, but surely there’s some kind of middle ground where classical music (and early classical music at that) can be cool.

Not that this was going to bother The Sixteen – arguably the country’s best adult choral group just now. The place was heaving – clearly sold out, despite top-whack tickets shifting for thirty five quid a pop. And it wasn’t all old crusties either, there were people of all ages (I’m guessing the proximity of Trinity College had something to do with it) so probably I’m the only person who thought the title cringe-making.

I’d been desperate to go to this concert since I read about it in the ORNC listings (pick yourself up a leaflet in the Visitor Centre – it’s not all face-painting for the under-fives.) Quite apart from the facts that I love early music, and that I love choral music and that The Sixteen are so very well-respected, it was the setting as much as anything that I liked the idea of. After all, short of performing in the ORNC car park (directly on top of Henry VII’s chapel) they couldn’t get much closer to the probable original setting for this gorgeous, home-grown sacred music. This stuff needs to be heard somewhere with a big acoustic; with high ceilings and wides aisles, somewhere you can feast your eyes as well as your ears during the event, so the car park was out, but the Naval Chapel was perfect.

I’d heard there was going to be a talk before the event and I rather hoped it would be a tying-in of the concert with Greenwich’s past as a Tudor palace – considering we were sitting on top of it and all. It wasn’t – it was the choir’s two second basses who did a sort of classical equivalent of “the making of…” which worked rather well. They seemed relaxed and cheery, not too stiff, ‘interviewing’ each other – “So, what’s your favourite moment in the second movement, then, George?” – and they told us good bits to look out for, which for a Phantom who hadn’t actually heard of any of the three composers (for the classicists among you, Parsons, White and Tye) was very useful. Clearly the cheeky boys of the choir, they were fun to look out for later (in the very few moments I wasn’t totally transported to somewhere that may or may not have been the Tudor idea of heaven.)
What can I say? It was sublime. Of course you’ve got to be into that twisty-turny, mellifluous sound that the Tudors liked so much (think Spem in Alium in miniature.) The music washes over rather than confronts and little patterns and motifs are repeated in different voices, resounding through the Naval Chapel and my phantsmagorical mind.
I sat back and looked at that fabulous ceiling (hence the pic, taken by Stevie, clearly lying on his back, though not actually during the concert, of course. A bit anachronistic, but the only bit of Tudor Greenwich that’s left is either the undercroft or the water-house-thingy at the vicarage and neither of them seemed quite right) and allowed the music to filter through me. I knew none of it, yet it was all somehow familiar. Perhaps it was the fact that most of it was in the only bits of Latin I know.
The Sixteen are Discipline personified (though there was just the faintest glimmer of a smirk on their faces as they arrived back on stage after the interval. What do early musicians make jokes about? Rommelpot players, presumably…) Their timing is exquisite, their voices, ditto. A pal of mine who’s in that world tells me the group’s fiendishly difficult to get into, and I could tell that. Each of them was clearly hand-picked (even if some of their tailcoats weren’t…) Of course I’d have like to see them all dressed in the original kit, but I guess they’d consider that to be play-acting or not taking the material seriously. A shame. I like a nice ruff as much as the next phantom.
Of course this was just a one-off, but given that the place was packed, I suspect they’ll be back. Keep an eye out in the programme, and don’t be put off by the name ‘Choral Pilgrimage.’ In the meanwhile, you could always reproduce the effect by buying a CD ,sticking it on your walkman and pacing around the chapel, looking up at the ceiling. Or, even lazier, just look really closely at Stevie’s pic on the screen…

Mystery Filming

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Just working my way through the lovely mail you’ve sent over the weekend, and I’ve found a curious one from P&D who experienced some mystery filming on Friday… He writes:

“There’s a large film crew (catering vans, prop vans, winibago, etc.,) over in the Sainsburys car park on the peninsula. Any idea what they are filming at the moment? The current scene is a little ref VW polo with three people inside ‘chatting’ with the main Sainsburys store as the backdrop. I didn’t recognize anyone but then again I don’t watch too much TV.”

The Phantom hasn’t got a clue – I was away. But did anyone else get a glimpse of this?

The Importance of Being Earnest

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Becki has been telling me how good The Importance of Being Earnest is at Greenwich Theatre – and she’s shocked by how few people are in the audience when it’s so very good.

She says:

“It is a fantastic production with wonderfully engaging characters and great sets! I can almost quote the play by heart because it is one of my favorite plays, but I still laughed at the same jokes because the actors and actresses were so engaging. “

I guess I’m partly to blame – I had season tickets last season and went to see practically everything, whether I liked the look of it or not. I ended up seeing several things I really enjoyed that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise and it was such a cheap way of going that I could slip out during the interval if I wasn’t enjoying it (which I confess I did on one show – and would have done on another if it had had an interval.) Thing was, I just didn’t fancy most of what was on this time so didn’t bother. Perhaps I wasn’t alone if seats are empty.

After Becki’s raving, though, I really meant to go last night. Sadly, Life got in the way and I didn’t make it. But it sounds very good indeed. So – if you’re stuck for something to do tonight or tomorrow (it’s only on till Saturday) get tickets here. Let me know what you think.

I’ll get another season ticket next time, whatever’s scheduled – otherwise I just won’t get around to going and, thinking about it, I’ve missed going to the theatre recently. I just hope there’s more on that I want to see…

Wolf Man Again

Friday, April 4th, 2008

I went down last night to try to catch some of Wolf Man being shot (most of the shooting is at night for fairly obvious reasons…) Annoyingly I couldn’t get very close but could see that it’s WELL worth going down and having a nosey if you can – especially today/night – about more of which later. The whole of the central path has been made into a “road”, complete with trees, lamp posts and sundry shops/ signs etc.

I went down again this morning to get a closer look at the set. It’s all ‘put away to one side,’ but you can see quite a lot and the security men are desperate to chat about it to anyone who passes by. The extra ‘walls and gates’ are made out of wood – but even up close they’re very convincing. Seems rather a shame to think they’ll all go on the bonfire afterwards.

You can get very close during the day, and that might be a good time to see stuff. This afternoon they’ll be rehearsing a stunt where a guy (the Wolf Man?) will leap from the tower above the Painted Hall. It will be shot tonight.

The best place to see it by night seems to be the Thames Path, by the King’s Steps. From the street there are giant arc lights between the set and the public which make the Nosey Parker’s job more difficult, but the path, though a long way away, has a clear-ish view. I also stood at the Park Row end, looking from the gates, but got quite a lot of hassle from a very jumped-up security guard.

Luckily most of them are lovely and have really got into the spirit of the thing. One of them gave me a very graphic description of the Wolf Man’s make up (including actions and faces…) and ‘hydraulic springs’(the mind boggles) attached to his feet.

I commented that it must be the biggest set I’d seen but the chap at the gate told me with much glee that both National Treasure 2 (now there’s a rubbish film…) and The Duchess (out in the summer) were bigger. Nevertheless, well over £150m is being lavished on Wolf Man.

Also lovely were the extras (over 170 of them last night, I was told) who were happy to pose for me, even though I was clambering up the wall and clinging onto the railings to get the shot.
Do get down and see this free show while you can – today, especially, seems like a good opportunity. Then we can all sit in the cinema at Wolf Man and point and shout “that’s Greenwich” every five seconds, to the annoyance of everyone else.

Wolf Man

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Apparently this Wolf Man set is just ENORMOUS. I’ve not made it down there yet – they were just building it when I was last there – I’ll try to go today – but Stevie has sent me some pics – and they are staggering…

1. For One Night Only – pretty much literally…

2. Your carriage awaits…

3. Techies unloading crashmats for an action sequence – falling horses, crazy stunts, Jackie Chan…Well, maybe not the last one…

4. Stevie says: “I wonder what the original man on the Clapham Omnibus would make of it all. Last time I saw this location on TV Harrison Ford was involved in a shooting match with Sean Bean. Today the wayfare has been covered over in authentic roadage for the Edwardian era and two vintage omnibus are on standby for the evening’s shoot when they’ll be crammed full of period attired extras.”

5. “Artists Dressing Rooms – the biggest name on the movie is Anthony Hopkins but he’ll have his work cut out for him competing with the equine talent on the movie. Up to 40 horses are being used…”

So, an eyeful and no mistake guv. Get down there now, folks, for a free show…

Blow Up

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Michaelangelo Antonioni, 1966

A few weeks ago I went to see an artist friend of mine (in Bloomsbury, of course – how fabulous can you get..?) and was a bit put-out to find that he’d been on a pilgrimage to S.E. London and hadn’t visited me. He explained that he’d had to go to Maryon Park in Charlton alone, so that he could get the full Blow-Up experience. A likely story… I trust that he was wearing slightly too-short tight white jeans, Chelsea boots and a heavy-lidded, vacant expression, though I suspect the fact that he went by train rather than in a convertible Rolls may have dampened the image.

I was far too embarrassed to admit to him that I had never, ahem, actually seen this seminal piece of 60s hip-o-rama, so I nodded sagely and made ‘intelligent’ local remarks,’ most of which involved wittering on about Mark being able to take pictures of sheep there these days (what’s worse – Bill tells me that it wasn’t even the same Park – see Comments…) It wasn’t going down well . What else was there to do, but quickly rent the DVD and do a spot of catching-up?

Watching it now, post-Austin Powers and High Anxiety, it’s difficult to stop just the tiniest smirk from creeping around phantasmagorical lips. Let’s face it – it’s the ultimate Swinging London Sixties cliche – complete with guardsmen in uniform, funky shots of Piccadilly Circus with guys in mini cars and dolly birds in mini skirts. But it also says something really rather interesting as far as we locals are concerned. I’ll get onto that.

David Hemmings’s vacuous airhead photographer (apparently based on David Bailey) drove me nuts, with his floppy haircut and dark-circled eyes. Maybe it was the casual misogyny, maybe it was his (or Antonioni’s) irritating habit of being sidetracked from the plot for the flimsiest of reasons – buying a boat propeller or romping with naked girlies in bits of sugar paper (some might argue not flimsy at all, of course) or smoking joints with his side-boarded mate Peter Bowles (Peter Bowles? Peter Bowles? How wrong is that?) But my artist friend was clearly impressed with it enough to trek out to South East London (and believe me that’s a trek for him…) so I stuck with it.

Now I know it’s all about the viewer and how they percieve the images they see before them – did the photographer actually witness a murder or was it all in his drug-addled imagination? The simple omission of the one scene that would prove it one way or another (the return to his ransacked flat after his non-discovery of the body in the cold light of day) is proof that Antonioni doesn’t want the audience to know the literal truth. I know that it’s full of the classic images of British cinema in the 60s and I know that it was cutting-edge for its day. Even worse, I know that I’m going to get beaten about my spectral tricorn by a good majority of you cinema fans – but frankly I was a bit bored.

It’s almost certainly a case of what I call “Hitchhiker” syndrome. If you listen to the original radio version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy now, it sounds horribly cliched. The modern listener has to take a step back and think this was the first. This is what all the other comedy sci-fis were based on. I’m sure that Blow-Up suffers from this – all the other 60s films/TV progs, doccos – and now spoofs – base themselves at least a little on Antonioni’s creation. Certainly all the art fans I know love it for that very seminal quality and I enjoyed it in its own way too, I guess – to a certain extent for the spotting where other films had been inspired. My trouble is that I’ve just got myself too plot-driven these days, watching too much Hollywood stuff, and the sundry tangents started to get to me.

Note To Self: Must get back to watching more art movies.

Something Blow Up does do though, is show a quality that South East London had then, which seems to have been forgotten. Now maybe I am, as my old college lecturer would have said, “reading too much into this,” but I’m beginning to think that places like Charlton and Woolwich were actually rather funky and alternative in their own ways – so very outre that they went full circle and became hip again. Charlton’s not actually owned up to in the film – Hemmings’s flat is in some anonymous mews in, what most would assume, is Chelsea – I have no reason to think it isn’t – but Maryon Park is implied to be just round the corner, with a cool ‘antiques’ (read ‘junk’) shop on the corner. I don’t know if that shop’s still there, (I’m sure someone will tell me) but I’ll wager it doesn’t sell propellers, busts and stags’ heads anymore.

Ok, it could have just been standing in for somewhere else, as Greenwich Film Unit is so keen to promote these days, but I get the feeling the funkiness went deeper than mere set-dressing.

I’ve been reading Iris Bryce’s A Tree In The Quad, the sequel to her wonderful Remember Greenwich which, while not being quite as compelling as its predecessor, does describe a Woolwich which was, almost impossible to believe now, a hub for the late 50s/early 60s Trad Jazz revival, the radio and television shop she owned with her musician-husband a magnet for duffle-coated beatniks and beardy hipsters, and the various music clubs they ran together meccas for jazz afficionados. I’ll get onto that book another day, but for now, maybe my artist friend was right. Maybe Blow-Up is more than a fabber-than-thou whimsy about a bloke who may or may not have witnessed a murder. Maybe, just maybe, it shows that all of London was cool then, not just the West End.

Of course it just might mean that the murders in the 60s were all in South London…


Following this entry being originally posted, Stevie went on a pilgrimage of his own. It would seem that the park, still spooky, continues to throw up strange and unexplained images. Did Stevie really step back to Jurassic times, or was it all part of some spaced-out trip? We may never know…