Brutal Oxford

Oxford was my first day trip of the year. Its university is well known and brings people from all over the world to the city. With the growth of Oxford University buildings were needed, many of which date back to its early beginnings. There are examples of many different architectural styles but I was there for one in particular.

Though there is a wealth of historical architecture I was most interested in that of a brutal nature. Oxford University has played a large part in the buildings of the city, and that is true even right up until the modern day. My research started with the Denys Wilkinson Building and grew from there.

Denys Wilkinson Building

The Denys Wilkinson Building is home to the astrophysics and particle physics departments of Oxford University. Designed by Philip Dowson and built in the late 60s it became a prominent example of new brutalism in Oxford. Originally it was named the Nuclear Physics Laboratory as it was going to house the department of nuclear physics. In 2001 the name was changed in honour of British nuclear physicist Sir Denys Wilkinson.

Denys Wilkinson Building - Brutal Oxford

The fan shaped structure is home to a Van de Graaff generator.

Denys Wilkinson Building - Brutal Oxford

Thom Building

Located at the north end of the building is the Thom Building which is home to the Department of Engineering Science. The building is named after Alexander Thom, a Scottish engineer who was a professor at Oxford University.

Thom Building - Brutal Oxford

Oxford Centre for Innovation

The only building featured that isn’t linked to an educational institution. The Oxford Centre for Innovation provides offices and workspaces with the aim to support growing businesses.

Oxford Centre for Innovation - Brutal Oxford Oxford Centre for Innovation - Brutal Oxford

Thomas White Building

The Thomas White Building is Grade II listed and belongs to St John’s College, providing accommodation for its students. The 1960s saw a rise in student admissions and accommodation was needed urgently, Philip Dowson’s design was chosen which created 154 flats.

Brutal Oxford

The Thomas White Building was featured on Historic England’s list of 20 intriguing places in 2017.

Brutal Oxford

Margery Fry House

Officially the  building is called Margery Fry & Elizabeth Nuffield House and it provides accommodation for Somerville college. Slightly back from Little Claredon Street is Vaughan House, similar in style and design only larger in size. Both buildings were also designed by Philip Dowson.

Margery Fry House - Brutal Oxford

Margery Fry House - Brutal Oxford

A concrete exterior frame surrounds both buildings and they sit above a row of shops on street level.

Margery Fry House - Brutal Oxford


Further Reading:

I have written about a few other examples of brutal architecture in England and you can find them here:

It’s too Late to Save Welbeck Street Car Park

Saving the Three Ships

The Tricorn

From Perth to Portsmouth

Perth, Australia 2010

Ten years ago I had already been living in Australia for 6 months. I had worked at a ski resort , lived in Melbourne and crossed the Nullarbor,  before ending up in Perth. It was a great city but my time there was short. I worked at the cricket ground and caught up with friends but I never really settled there and it wasn’t long before I moved on to South Australia.

From Perth to Portsmouth

Portsmouth, England 2020

Now, after ten years living abroad, I find myself back home. Full circle. Years away has given me a new outlook on my hometown but has also allowed me to fall back into old habits and routines that you miss while living away.

From Perth to Portsmouth

Location Unknown 2030

Though the last ten years were, and probably will be, the most adventurous of my life I am excited about a new decade. Instead of long trips that last years I plan to make as many short ones as possible. Portsmouth is home, for now at least, but after living in Helsinki for five years I am often tempted to return.



Saving the Three Ships

When I first joined the conversation about Brutalism it was largely focused on Welbeck Street Car Park and the failed attempts to preserve it. Plans had been approved and demolition had begun, at the time of writing the building is completely gone.

But since then there has been a new agenda on the table, the Hull Three Ships Mural by Alan Boyson.

When I first began to read about the fight to preserve the mural as the council made plans to develop the surrounding building it felt as if it were a million miles away. A place I was never going to visit.

But I would.

During a trip to Yorkshire the conversation was reaching a critical point and this felt like as good as time as any to go. Under two hours away I wouldn’t be any closer for a while and it looked like I might not get the chance.

It had already been decided by the council that the mural wouldn’t be able to be saved, as originally thought, due to high amounts of asbestos in the building. In their opinion there was little they could do to preserve Alan Boyson’s artwork and it would be demolished with the building as planned.

Saving the Three Ships

Simple in design but excruciatingly detailed in execution it towers over the pedestrian cross roads. The mural is made from millions of small tiles of glass and features three ships, representing Hull’s fishing industry, and the cities name spelled out in their masts. Also, across the centre of the mural a latin phrase can be read, res per industriam prosperae meaning the success of industry.

I stood there photographing the mural as people passed on their way through the high street, paying more attention to what I was doing than to what has become a symbol of their city.

The former BHS store was large and appeared to have been empty for quite some time. I walked around the exterior and you could understand why the local council were interested in redeveloping the area. Inside was another mural by Boyson depicting a shoal of fish, it had been lost behind a wall for a number of years, but there was very little chance of seeing it from street level.

Saving the Three Ships

Later that week news came that the Three Ships had been approved for Grade II listed status and would now be protected during any future development plans. 

Of course for Hull City council the news wasn’t ideal, with one referring to the decision as ‘ridiculous’.

Saving the Three Ships

I was glad to see a positive outcome, people had worked hard to keep something that was important to them and hopefully for others in the future. I had seen failure before with the Tricorn and a city that was unable to come to a solution that the only choice they were left with was to demolish it.

Further reading:

Two buildings of unique design that weren’t as lucky to receive listed status and have been demolished, Welbeck Street Car Park and The Tricorn

A Day in the New Forest

The New Forest is an area in Southern England, widely known for its nature and wildlife. The Forest was first proclaimed a royal forest by William the Conquerer in the 11th century, and today a large proportion is still owed by the crown. Since 2005 the New Forest has been a national park.

A Day in the New Forest


One of the features that the New Forest is known for the most is its wildlife. Animals are able to roam freely within the national park and there is quite an abundance, especially of horses. At Hatchett Pond we encountered our first, a group of very friendly donkeys.

A Day in the New Forest

A Day in the New Forest

Rhinefield Ornamental Drive

Rhinefield Ornamental Drive is a short, narrow stretch of road just outside the town of Brockenhurst. Here you can find some of the tallest trees in the New Forest. In and around 1859 many trees were planted in this area as part of the Rhinefield Estate.

A Day in the New Forest

At both ends of the Drive there is a car park. From here you can pick up the Tall Trees Trail, a short walk that runs parallel to the road.

A Day in the New Forest

A Day in the New Forest

Rhinefield Ornamental Drive hosts many non-native species of trees, including Redwoods. At only 150 years old these trees are very young in comparison to their American cousins but, nevertheless, they are among the tallest in the forest.

A Day in the New Forest

The Knightwood Oak

Turning off from the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive you will be able to find the Knightwood Oak, a five hundred year old Oak tree. The Knightwood Oak is an example of ‘pollarding’, which is where a tree is harvested for wood without killing the tree. The oak is one of the largest and oldest in the New Forest and also goes by the name ‘Queen of the forest’

A Day in the New Forest

This is such a small selection of what the New Forest has to offer. There are many towns, including Lyndhurst and Burley, that are worth your time, as well as the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary. All of these situated in the beautiful surroundings of one of England’s oldest forests.


Jussi TwoSeven in Brighton

Recently I found myself in Brighton hunting for a number of street art pieces that had been placed around the city.

The reason I was here was the Finnish street artist Jussi TwoSeven whose work I had been following since my time living in Helsinki, where I had first been introduced to his work. The most recent was a large roaring bear in one of Helsinki’s metro stations in co-operation with a city museum. He had now been in Brighton painting a number of pieces in co-operation with Brighton Fringe Festival, this time wolves.

Jussi TwoSeven in Brighton

Jussi TwoSeven in Brighton

All together there were five wolves dotted around the city and they weren’t too hard to find.

Bond St

In the heart of Brightons popular Lanes is Bond St, a thoroughfare for exploring tourists and local shoppers. Bond St has it all, from small boutiques, cafes, vintage clothing and much more. A day could fly by weaving in and out of the narrow walking lanes with each turn revealing something new.

Jussi TwoSeven in BrightonWhat I enjoy about Jussi TwoSeven’s work is his interpretation of nature, and especially wildlife native to Finland, using only black and white paint. Also the scale to which he often works is very impressive.

Jussi TwoSeven in Brighton

Middle St

Just around the corner from The Victory Inn, down a small side road,  was the largest piece in the city. A blank white wall on the outside of a hairdressers made the perfect canvas for Jussi TwoSeven’s monochrome work. The Location and size made this one on Middle St my favourite of the day.

Jussi TwoSeven in Brighton


From here I walked. down to the seafront, passing the pier before heading back into the city just before the Aquarium. I knew roughly where I was heading as I had been wandering through this part of town the last time I was in Brighton only a few months earlier.

Edward St

Two smaller pieces were painted on the walls of the Brighton Youth Centre on Edward St. One along the main road, the other slightly hidden by a small car parking bay by the entrance. Can you spot the black and white wolf?

Jussi TwoSeven in Brighton

What finally brought all these individual pieces together was when I saw a video on Jussi TowSeven’s own channel of each wolf in sequence giving the appearance of movement. Though separated across the city the pieces worked together collectively.

Jussi TwoSeven in Brighton

I am interested to know if there are any other great works of street art that grace the walls of Brighton? What are your favourites and are there any you can recommend?

Further Reading:

Take a look at more of Jussi TwoSeven’s work in my pervious posts Jussi TwoSeven and Art in the Metro.

Also on his own Facebook page.

System Failure

The last few months have been a whirlwind, devouring all my time and this blog has suffered as a result of that. This is something I want to remedy starting now.

Last year I packed up my life and moved countries, back home to the UK. Before getting completely settled I took a month holiday and went to Australia for a friends wedding, visiting Amsterdam and Beijing along the way.

System Failure

But the one thing I can blame for my silence is the destruction of my computer (largely from my own doing). It has played havoc with my workload and productivity, which is partly my fault as I am still procrastinating over which one to replace it with.

Though, I will not let these problems stand in my way any longer. I have been working on a few ideas in my head and it won’t be long before I put them together for you to see. Because of my recent travels and the change in my living situation I am sitting on a bunch of great content that I need you to see. I hope that I can find the words (and the time) to bring these to life.

I would greatly appreciate that you stick around and see what I have been up to in my absence, as well as what I am will be doing in the future. 2018 has started well and I aim for that to continue.

In the meantime visit my other accounts where I try to post more frequently:

The Human Body

I don’t spend nearly enough time in London, it’s a great city with so much to offer. When I do make it there I often get wrapped up in the usual sights to see anything new from the city, but I normally come across one or two new details which impress me.

More often than not these details are the ones that you come across by mistake, you find them when you least expect to, they surprise you, and this is exactly what happened during my recent visit.

But before I tell that story I have to go back a few years to the beginning.

Around five years ago I was flying out to Helsinki from London and had heard about a Damien Hirst exhibition taking place at the Tate Modern, I decided to head down a day early, stay with a friend, and catch my flight after checking out the exhibition.

The Human Body

Damien Hirst at the Tate

Outside the Tate Modern I was greeted by a large sculpture of a human body. The sculpture closely resembled the plastic figures that are used in biology classes,  the ones you can take apart to understand the body’s anatomy, only much larger.

It was my first time at the Tate and my first time seeing Hirst’s work, both equally impressive. I had arrived early and the museum hadn’t yet opened for the day so I spent a bit of time photographing the sculpture and the view over the Millenium Bridge to St Paul’s.

The sculpture itself looked over one of my most favourite views of the city.

The Human Body

Sculpture in the City

This brings me to my more recent visit.

On the way to Leadenhall Market, one of London’s oldest market, to meet a friend I came across another sculpture. At first I thought the sculpture was the same as the one I had seen in London all those years go. It wasn’t until I came home and delved into my archives that I realised they were different.

My searched deepened, I found out the name of the piece, Temple also by Damien Hirst, and that it was part of a public art exhibition called Sculpture in the City.

I guess the point of this story is to say that two unconnected points in time can be linked in a way you may have never expected, chance encounters that take you back in time to past moments. If nothing else it was a good excuse to go through some old photos.

Further Reading:

More from Sculpture in the City 2017 by TimeOut and about the artworks.

Also my last post about the Black Shed Expanded

Explore the Helsinki Metro and the sculptures you can see along the journey, as well as the Sculptures of Helsinki in general.