Chez l'abeille

Culture. Travel. Writing. My world in words and pictures

The House of Dreams.

Step through this gateway and you will find yourself in The House of Dreams.

Front garden (9)I could try to describe the house and tell you all about Stephen Wright, the artist who has created and shaped this amazing work, but I’m not going to. Instead, as a tiny snapshot of this world apart, I’m going to show you some of the photographs Stephen very generously let me take before the most recent open day got underway.

Then I’m going to invite you to make a cup of tea, take some time out and let Stephen explain his work to you personally. Trust me. You’ll be glad you did. So go on – open the gate and step into the courtyard…

Now go through the front door and into the hallway. Memories surround you: Personal thoughts and immense feelings laid bare.

Peep through the archway – colours and textures draw you inwards. Assembled words and objects create something new from the lost and dispossessed detritus of the world.

The studio floor and walls bridge the space towards the back garden.

In the world of Forensic Science it is often said that “every contact leaves a trace”. The cherished fragments of lives lived and lives living infuse each space and become the very DNA of the house. Challenging, comforting, personal, intimate, human.

This is the House of Dreams.

Many thanks to Stephen and Michael for letting me get in the way while their final preparations for the open day were underway.

You can visit the House of Dreams in East Dulwich on the last Saturday in September or October – Tickets can be purchased via Stephen’s website here.

©Chez l’abeille  2017


The Streets of London: Frieze Sculpture 2017

Anyone who has read my last post and got as far as The Royal Docks may recall me telling you that there was now only the one sculpture there, where there were previously several. It was a surprise to find one of the missing pieces this week, amongst the 25 works that make up the 2017 Frieze sculpture trail in London’s Regent’s Park. Somehow this event had failed to register on my “what’s currently happening” radar, but thanks to some more in-the-know friends and with a sunny staycation day in hand, I was able to cross from south to north to have a look.

‘From the playful to the political, these 25 works explore contemporary sculpture’s material and technical dexterity, together with its social role and reflection on the human condition and our environment’. (Clare Lilley – Yorkshire Sculpture Park Director of Programme and Frieze Sculpture curator)

See what YOU think!

I was most excited by Alicja Kwade’s piece, Big Be-Hide (2017) – unfortunately it would appear that something (or someONE) has managed to crack the mirror and it had been health and safety – ed to the max. I managed to take some reasonable pictures, but to see it in its full glory you need to head to


Frieze Sculpture is free and is open from 5 July to 8 October in the English Gardens, The Regent’s Park, London.


©Chez l’abeille  2017

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The Streets of London: The Line.

Starting the walk southwardsI’m not going to write too much about this walk as it really belongs to Kate, who has cleverly set her friends the year-long challenge of challenging her. Celebrations for significant birthdays occur in different ways and Kate has come up with a genius plan: creating memories through shared experiences. Not being one for the adrenalin fuelled event, my challenge came with art loving and tracking skills required; completing “The Line” ; a sculpture walk between Stratford and the Greenwich Peninsular.

We had chosen August in anticipation of fine summer weather. Heading out with thunderstorms of biblical proportions forecast wasn’t actually part of the plan but somehow we managed to miss the downpours and successfully navigated our way along the back waters of Bow. Here are the highlights.

The River Lea and Cody Dock

It took a little while to get going as signage along the way wasn’t always the easiest thing to decipher – but we followed our noses southwards and headed into unknown territory.

The rains came down just as we had arrived at Cody Dock – a rather fascinating and curiously empty creative quarter which has been developed post London 2012. As if by magic the man operating the cafe appeared so tea and cake kept us occupied until the rains stopped and we navigated our way southwards via the DLR to the Royal Docks.

The Royal Docks

On a previous visit I had seen several artworks around the dock but there is currently only the one so after a quick photo stop we were up, up and away across the Thames via the cable-car!


The Greenwich Peninsular

This is a great section of the walk, which curls around the back of the tent-like O2. The artworks here fit into the environment so well that it could be easy to overlook some of them, especially my favourite,”Here”.

Still dry and now thirsty #ChallengeKate was completed! We headed to the nearest bar and congratulated ourselves with a cocktail in the sunshine.

Happy 50th Kate!!!

©Chez l’abeille  2017



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Mirror, Mirror

Sometimes things just happen. That, I guess is what constitutes a happening. The arrival of a mirror maze in Peckham for one weekend only is always going to be a happening. Add that it’s in the Copeland Park/Bussey Building’s achingly hip enclave and it is always going to be up there in the zeitgeist.

I’m not going to write a lot about the background to the work – there’s a really decent article by Creative Review, which tells you everything you need to know. Briefly, the work is by Es Devlin who has a background in stage design. It’s exploring scent, memory and identity. It’s created in partnership with i-D and Chanel to celebrate creativity from women in arts and culture aross the world.

What it actually is: a really fabulous, immersive, mesmerising artwork!

I’m glad I went down early on the opening day as I think visitors would be queuing round the block by the end of the weekend as word spread. By the time this post goes out it will all be over, but that I suppose is what makes it the best kind of memory – a transient moment of total magic.

©Chez l’abeille  2016




The Streets of London: “Lumiere London”

The sudden plunging temperature and a general sense of January malaise had descended over Chez L’Abeille when out of the ether came a glimmer of light – Lumiere London.

For four chilly winter nights the street of London have been bathed in neon lights and beautiful projections. I went along with three equally layered up friends to the Piccadilly, Regent Street and Mayfair section on the Thursday opening night. We were  completely enchanted by both the lights and the convivial atmosphere. On this near freezing mid-January night, London behaved like it was on holiday. Everywhere we walked, people helped each other with hard to find locations and just chatted about the artworks. How unlike our usual grumpy selves we all were; there was clearly magic in the air.

Luminéoles by Porté par le vent

Les Lumineoles floating in a musical dreamspace

The main roads around Piccadilly and Mayfair were closed which meant there was lots of space to stand and wonder at the spectacle and beauty of the installations. My particular favourites were KeyFrames in Regent Street and Les Luminéoles in Piccadilly. Both were mesmerising for different reasons. Les Luminéoles is a floating, dreamlike piece, using more traditional puppetry skills and human operators (who battled well in the brisk wind that was freezing us half to death!). KeyFrames on the other hand was just funny; a story told through the antics of the animated stick people, who danced, somersaulted and chased each other across the Liberty House facade with increasing complexity. Continue reading


A river runs through it.

“Twenty bridges from Tower to Kew –
Wanted to know what the River knew,
Twenty Bridges or twenty-two,
For they were young, and the Thames was old
And this is the tale that River told:”  Rudyard Kipling

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.” William Henry Davies

I think living in London we tend to take the River Thames for granted – it’s just always there, coming in and going out on a daily basis without too much trouble for Londoners.  There is always a small worry of floods but we’ve got the Thames Barrier to deal with that eventuality (I think).

However, once a year we turn to look at the Thames and celebrate our river’s existence.

In 2014 the Totally Thames Festival gave us this delight from the renowned Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman. It was quirky and fun.

Florentijn Hofman HippopoThames sculpture Florentijn Hofman HippopoThames sculpture

2015 was something else.

The work is called “The rising tide” by underwater eco-sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. Twice a day at low tide they are completely revealed, then through the day they submerge and re-emerge with the regularity of the tide.

I saw them first at lowest tide by myself which allowed me to look closely at the details of the sculptures, but then went back with some friends to watch as the tide came in.

For over an hour we stood watching the river as the tidal flow reversed the waterline.

We noticed the patterns of the swirling, incoming water against the embankment and across the sand and stones.

We noticed the subtle changes in the light as the late summer sun set and each rider was illuminated by turn.

We noticed the time it took for the river to rise far enough to lap against the riders feet and legs.

Entranced and delighted; for a little while in our busy schedules, we simply stopped and stared.

©Chez l’abeille 2015

The Thames Festival is on for a further 3 days so catch them if you can.


Decisions, decisions…

The Hayward Gallery is closing very soon for a complete refurb and the final show has been billed as a summer must see, so off I went to see what it was all about.

I have to say I’ve seen Carsten Höller’s work before and have always been a bit undecided about it – so wondered if maybe “Decision”, his latest show would change that. I had also missed out on the infamous Tate modern slides installation in 2007 and this exhibition included a set of slides attached to the side of the Hayward, so with them in mind I had booked my ticket quite a while ago.

The works focus on the choices you make and how you interact with them: Take entrance A or B? Push the “Flying mushrooms” left or right? Swallow the small red and white capsule* from “Pill Clock” or leave not knowing? I started out with a quite a high level of excitement and anticipation, with a degree of trepidation as well!

Choosing door A, I entered a narrow metal passage way which became darker and more disorientating as I trailed my way,  using just my hands on the wall, around the twisting path. At the time I think I was the only person in the intertwined tunnels so didn’t get any sense of others nearby as they wove around the gallery – this gave it a very isolated, eerie feel and I was pretty pleased to pop out into the first gallery. It was then I discovered that photography was allowed (not usual in the Hayward) so I ducked out, courtesy of the very nice staff to grab my phone (excuse picture quality!). Heading back in I was keen to get going again.

Disappointingly, my overall sensation was one of being underwhelmed by the exhibition. Fundamentally the decision the visitor has to make is “do I engage with this work or not”? Whilst a few pieces captured my attention, overall I found my focus wandered and in several cases of overlong queues my decision was to simply pass by. And the slides – by the end I just wanted to leave the quickest way possible. I exited through the gift shop.

(*It’s still in my bag)

Decision – Carston Holler is on at the Hayward Gallery until 6th September 2015

©Chez l’abeille 2015