Posts Tagged ‘wall’

A Small Landmark, Iran and Caste Discrimination

Thursday, January 20th, 2022

A Small Landmark, Iran and Caste Discrimination
Three of the protests I photographed four years ago on Saturday 20th January 2018.

US Embassy first protest – No to Trump’s racism

The US decision to move their embassy out of Grosvenor Square in central London to the rather more obscure area of Nine Elms was at least in part thought to be their hope that it would attract fewer protests and that these would be given less media coverage.

So I was very pleased to photograph what was I think the first protest at the new site, on the anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration. It was prompted by his racist description of African nations, Haiti and El Salvador as ‘shitholes’.

His use of this word provoked offence and outrage around the world, and was a new and more offensive aspect of the racist attacks on black communities, migrants, refugees and the Muslim community.

Through Trump’s campaign and first year of office he has kept up his racist demands for a wall to be built along the Mexican border to keep out migrants (and demanding that Mexico pay for it.) Stand Up to Racism called for a wave of protests across the country on the anniversary to ‘knock down the racist wall’. They built a wall in front of the new US embassy which opened for business earlier in the week and at the end of the protest they knocked this wall down.

Trump had earlier announced that he had cancelled his visit planned for the following month to open the embassy – which would have attracted massive protests. And as I commented, ” Few doubt that it was this that caused him to cancel his visit, though Trump tweeted that it was a lousy building in the wrong place – and with his usual accuracy blamed Obama for a decision that had been taken by Bush.”

Architecturally I think Trump perhaps had a point. Basically the building is a cube with a few plastic bits hanging on three sides, perhaps its main redeeming feature its moat, though being only along one side this is not particularly functional. Though the mediocrity of the luxury flats around it which will doubtless largely be overseas investments rather than homes does make it stand out. The Grosvenor Square building by leading modernist architect Eero Saarinen was London’s first purpose-built embassy when opened in 1960 and attracted almost universal criticism when built, but was considerably worsened by the 2008 security additions, now being removed as it is turned into a luxury hotel.

Break UK silence over Iran uprising

The anti-government protests which took place in Iran in December 2017 were the biggest since the crushing of the 2009 Green Movement by security forces. Protesters opposite Downing St called on Prime Minister Theresa May to break her silence and call for the immediate release of the thousands arrested and under threat of the death penalty.

Unfortunately Britain has little or no influence on the Iranian government and has for years slavishly followed the US lead in relations with the country. Our relations with the country since oil was first discovered (and exploited by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, 51% owned by the British Government which much later became BP) have often been doubtful both before and after the 1979 revolution, which arguably came about largely as a consequence of US/UK policies.

The protest was organised and largely attended by members of the PMOI/MEK, an organisation which began in 1965 in opposition to the US-supported Shah and formed an armed militia. After the revolution it refused to take part in the constitutional referendum and in 1981 it was banned. The MEK sided with Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war (1980–88) and many MEK members were arrested, tortured and executed in the 1980s culminating in mass executions in 1988, when around 30,000 people were killed. MEK camps were bombed by the US during the invasion of Iraq and they were forced to surrender and disarmed, confined to a camp in Iraq. It was MEK provided information – some deliberately false – about the Iranian nuclear weapons programme – apparently given to them by Israel – that led to sanctions against Iran.

Indians protest Hindu caste-based violence

The Dr Ambedkar Memorial Committee GB organised a march from Parliament Square to the Indian High Commission which was supported by various Ravidass groups, Amberdkarite and Buddhist organisations, the South Asian Solidarity Group and others following attacks in India on the Dalit community by Hindu fundamentalists and the continuing illegal caste-based discrimination there.

Dalits celebrated the 200th anniversary of a historic victory by Dalit soldiers fighting for the East India Company in the Battle of Koregaon on January 1st 2018. The victory has been celebrated since 1927 when celebrations at the memorial pillar erected by the British were inaugurated by Dr Ambedkar, the principle architect of the Indian Constitution, which made caste discrimination illegal in India. This year’s celebration was attacked by Hindu fundamentalists with many injured and one boy killed and the unrest and attacks spread to Mumbai.

Caste-based attacks on Dalits have increased greatly since the election of the Hindu nationalist BJP party under Narendra Modi, whose central vision along with the linked violent Hindu Nationalist RSS movement is for Dalits to remain at the bottom of Indian society. Lobbying mainly by wealthy Hindus in the UK led the UK government to abandon a 2013 promise to include caste as an aspect of race under the Equality Act 2010.

I also photographed a protest similar to that described in yesterday’s post about 19th January 2019 by Bolivians against Evo Morales being allowed to run for a fourth term as President.

More on all these in My London Diary:
US Embassy – No to Trump’s racism
Break UK silence over Iran uprising
Indians protest Hindu caste-based violence
Bolivians protest for Liberty & Democracy

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Glebe Place and Carlyle Square 1988

Saturday, October 2nd, 2021

Glebe Place, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5i-52-positive_2400
Glebe Place, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5i-52

Glebe Place on the southern side of the King’s Road is a curious street with two right-angle bends and includes a series of artists studios, some grander than others, and its residents over the years have included a huge list of artists and writers – Wikipedia lists around 30 – as well as Paul Robeson, Shirley Williams and Constant Lambert.

I don’t remember outside which house I found this rather fierce sculpture which I think is no longer present.

Glebe Place, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5i-51-positive_2400
Glebe Place, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5i-51

25 and 25a Glebe Place. The heraldic lions have since left and the roof has been replaced. No 25 was the home of artist George Washington Lambert (1873-1930) who was born in Russia, educated in Somerset and emigrated with his mother and sisters to Australia in 1887. There he began exhibiting paintings and working as a cartoonist and illustrator. In the 1900s he spent a year in Paris, then moved to London; in the First World War he was an official Australian war artist, and he returned to Australia in 1921. His second son, Constant Lambert (1905-51), a notable British composer, was born in London in 1905 and also lived here; he was the Founder Music Director of the Royal Ballet.

Carlyle Square, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5i-34-positive_2400
Carlyle Square, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5i-34

The houses at left of the picture are the pair at the north end of the east side, No 27 and 28 and to the right of them are the doors of No 25 and 24 on the north side.

Carlyle Square, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5i-35-positive_2400
Carlyle Square, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5i-35

This rather agonised looking sculpture on the balcony was at No 28 but is no longer present.

Carlyle Square was laid out by the Cadogan Estate in the 1830s after Lord Cadogan bought the land on the north side of King’s Road in 1835, quickly clearing it of the existing small houses and cottages and laying out Oakley Square around an ornamental garden. But development of the square was slow. As originally set out, there were entrances for vehicles from both the east and west sides to King’s Road; more recently an area of garden separates the square from King’s Road, allowing only pedestrian entrance, with vehicle entrance being only from Old Church St.

Development began with short terraces of 3 houses on both the east and west sides next to King’s Rd, all now Grade II listed. They were followed in 1855 by a couple of semi-detached villas on the west side and around 1860 the north side of the square was largely completed with some varied houses. The remaining gaps – including most of its east side – were completed not long after, mainly with large identical semi-detached houses with a few feet gap between them.

Among notable residents over the years were Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell, William Walton, Sybil Thorndike, Edna O’Brien and David Frost (who held an annual summer party for some years in the garden.) No 21 was built for the Duke of Portland around 1860, and a later Duke of Portland who was Chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee during WW2 was still in residence.

Carlyle Square, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5i-22-positive_2400
Carlyle Square, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5i-22

Bushes carefully trimmed in pots under the windows of No 22.

Carlyle Square, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5i-24-positive_2400
Carlyle Square, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5i-24

This rather splendid tree is I think a fig tree and is still present – along with the pots at No 22 on the south-facing north of the square.

Carlyle Square, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5i-33-positive_2400
Carlyle Square, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

No 37-40 have walls and gate posts like this, and this is the entrance of 38. Most of the rest of the houses on the east and west side have plain iron railings.

Click on any of the images above to go to a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos from where you can browse other images in the album.

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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.