After years of the centre of Stratford upon Avon being a building site the redevelopment of the Stratford Memorial Theatre, the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company is finally finished.
For something thats such a landmark, and dominates much of the town, its a pretty uninspiring building. The previous theatre was an eyesore and this ones probably worse. A mismatch of old and new, it has no coherent style and looks like it was designed by a committee who all had to get their bits in. There's a tower that makes it look like a fire station, and some of the brickwork is downright shoddy. Its facade to the river is particularly ugly.
It may be state of the art inside but its a typical example of what passes for architecture in this country. While we possess some architects with vision and sensitivity, who can design striking and impressive new buildings and do sensitive restorations, we also have a load of hacks and also-rans who pollute our line of sight with their second-rate designs. Then there are the visually impaired committees who commission these things. Stratford-upon-Avon is one of the most famous and visited towns in the world, and for somewhere so popular its not particularly attractive. The people responsible for re-developing it have however managed to make it even less attractive than before. End of rant!!!
Here's a "des-res" from the 1500's. This is "Mary Ardens House" the home of Shakespeare's mother.
All of these pictures were taken with a Leica M9 and Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 and Leica 90mm f2.5 lenses. I am planning to use the M9 more this year, if I can only get over my paranoia about carrying it around. I have a real problem using a camera that has taken such a substantial part of my income. Its further compounded by the fact that I did drop my M8, so I'm aware of the sound of a Leica hitting the floor! Since my one-year passport with its accidental damage cover has now finished, I hold on to it even more firmly, since if I drop it I have to pay for it!
I'm not sure if I'm ever going to get over this fear of damaging it, or loosing it. I have considered selling it because of this. I used a D3X which was almost as expensive, but I never had the same fears about it. Its something to do with the Leica's size I think. Also the fact that it is both quite difficult to hold securely and changing lenses isn't the easiest thing in the world. I've tried to get a handgrip, but they seem impossible to get hold of. There are leather cases that have a built in grip and I am considering getting on of those, if Luigi at Leicatime ever answers my emails!!
Something like this may give me more reassurance, we'll see.
Words - David
Images - David and Ann