Lit Up In London
Forgive these shots, taken on the hoof with my phone, but they illustrate the power of lighting, something I was thinking about as I tromped back from the studio, where I’d been ensconced with The Big Star (all to be revealed in July) and watched the low but fierce winter sun spotlight buildings I had not noticed before.
The one on the left is on Great Portland Street, beside the building where the tea tasters used to be. When I drove to work, I always got stuck at the traffic light and watched the men tasting tea – remember they stood in a row in white coats swigging and spitting blends out into sinks?
We called them the Twinings men, so presumably that the company was based there – it sounds mad now, but I feel sure they vanished less than a decade ago.
The other shot shows – what, a law court? A government council? Er, no – it’s H&M in Oxford Street, now nicely lit up at night to reveal its features. And sure enough, a quick check along unlovely Oxford Street reveals a dozen very attractive buildings sitting unlit above their not-so-grand shop fronts. They’d all benefit from this treatment (the main light pollution comes from the unnecessary ground floor blaze of light at night).
Personally, I miss Oxford Street’s art-deco marble Pantheon, which housed London’s most central art cinemas and is now a Marks & Spencer. It was the only cinema in London that designed all its own posters.