Near the café there is a flat screen and audio system and as the Zoe Leonard photo and Observation Point was in its last days,it was interesting to listen to the artist. The other exhibition featured the Artist in Residence, Rachel Champion from New York, with whom we later had a chance to chat.
Jackie and I went upstairs and into a newly constructed darker corridor to a room above Finchley Road. After our eyes had adjusted it became apparent to Jackie that there was a Camera Obscura installation in the room and the other side of Finchley Road was screened on the opposite wall and ceiling upside down.
I mentioned to Jackie about the special upside down glasses one can wear and eventually the brain inverts the image the right way round (it does this to start with) Experiments had been done in the 1960s and I remember people on a BBC TV programme wearing these glasses for some time. At some point the glasses were removed and some people had difficulty getting back to normal. I started on Diana Ross-Upside Down and Jackie countered with Lionel Richie-Dancing on the Ceiling!
We then went to a large room with perhaps 10 photographs mounted with a black border on a white wall. I am afraid I did not get this. I commented that photographs of the sun were an area of special interest and mentioned the Transit of Venus. I felt rather as if I were in a snow blizzard and look lost in this photograph which Jackie took.
Not impressed, we moved to the 3rd room which had piles of postcards of Niagara Falls arranged in what appeared in an obsessive manner. I could make out 2 cards on a wall with Observation Point. Was this a hint of a telescope for which you drop a quarter/coin and you get a stereoscope image? Were the pile of postcards real or a ruse? We were both underwhelmed and moved on.
At this point, Jo from the Camden Arts Centre joined us and filled me in on an exhibition I had missed. We also chatted about recent exhibitions at the centre. Jackie and I had both visited the Claymation exhibition by Swedish artist and had not liked it. Jackie thought the violence was contrived and I thought a dark side of Scandinavian post-feminism seemed to be popular with crime fiction (detective stories) Jo, however, had enjoyed this exhibition and having enjoyed our comments found me the file notes of the exhibition that I had missed – Launching Rockets Never Gets Old by Raphael Hefti.
Next, we entered a room where Rachel Champion was working as Artist in Residence. This was a pleasant surprise. The work is called Ornithopter Garden. It had lots of colours and smells from the vegetation (mainly grasses) and an interesting corner piece which to my eyes looked like the Island of Staffa (Fingal's Cave) decorated with turf on the horizontal sections.
We also spoke with Jo about touching policy in some exhibitions. Sometimes friends of mine have been ticked off by guards at exhibitions when they exaggeratingly point out items in the show. Often the public are discouraged from making contact with some artworks though exceptions are made for visually impaired people. Jo spoke about access to installations for some people. I had enjoyed playing the drums and percussion at the Haroon Mirza exhibition ( http://profwhitestick.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/culture-on-london-overground.html) but Jo said that some had gone too far with their “interactions”.
To round off our visit, we had coffee and cake in the café. I have always enjoyed visiting the centre whether for talks by artists, book launches or just to drop in for a coffee. There are lifts, accessible toilets and a bookshop which has a wide selection of material. The centre also runs courses, though I have not tried any of them so cannot vouch for their suitability. A series of file notes on individual exhibitions are for sale at £1, which I usually buy and have read to me.
Train Connections to Underground and Overground
In this area there are two railway stations. Finchley Road is on the Jubilee Line and Metropolitan Line and has convenient changes. However, mind the gap, especially on the new Metropolitan Line carriages. While some stations such as Euston Square have flush and step free access to the train from platform, others, like Finchley Road, which bend, can have a surprisingly wide gap. You need to check the gap with a cane.
Once outside, turn left and staying on the left side of Finchley Road you may find a bus stop and take any double-decker red bus for 2 stops or walk. After the other station (Finchley Road and Frognal) cross a side road with a light-controlled crossing and then facing right there is another crossing across a very busy Finchley Road (there is an island in the middle). Camden Arts Centre is at the corner.
Getting off at Finchley Road there are 3 sets of 11 steps up to the Finchley Road exit. There is a touch pad for access with a pass or Oyster card. Make sure your companion touches the yellow pad or they may be overcharged at another ticket gate.
Jackie and I used the London Overground to get to Hampstead Heath station for Keats House and we went back to West Hampstead and on our separate ways. I am continuing useful hubs and stations for meeting points where one can meet friends half way and go on from there. Finchley Road on the London Underground is useful as is West Hampstead. Both have useful bus connections though as unmoveable as train stations are, bus stops are sadly subject to suspension, roadworks and diversions.
Buses for Camden Arts Centre: 13, 82 and 113.