Art

Pylon of the Month - June 2019

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June's Pylon of the Month is an absolute cracker that I first came across on Twitter courtesy of @CPF_Photography who then kindly gave permission for me to use it.  It was taken in Birmingham near one of the city's many canals and for more wonderful Birmingham photographs look on the CPF photography website.  Let's deal with Birmingham and canals before we get into the pylons themselves.  A quick google search will reveal claims that Birmingham has more canals than Venice with 35 miles of waterways compared to Venice's 26 miles.  It turns out to be true but as the National Community Boats Association points out:

It’s at the heart of England’s canal network and has 35 miles of waterways so it does technically have more than the 26 miles of navigations you’ll find in Venice. But Birmingham is much bigger than Venice, so the density of canals there makes them a much more prominent feature of the city. Also, the canals of Venice are wide, whereas Birmingham’s waterways are narrow.

My elder son is at university in Birmingham and so I've been there quite a few times in the last couple of years, but the canals have yet to feature on my trip itinerary.  That clearly needs to be rectified as soon as possible.

Now to more pylon related issues.  The first thing that struck me when looking at the photograph is the wonderful reflection in the canal of the pylon in the foreground.  More careful inspection revealed that this foreground pylon is a terminator pylon - the end of the line where the cables go down to finish at a sub-station rather than continuing to another pylon. This was quickly followed by noticing that the next two pylons further back look different with two 'ears' rather than a single apex.  The two pylons further back are, however, a different line and I must confess at this point that I'm not entirely clear why they have two 'ears'.  I do know that the thin wire running through the top of more standard pylons is an earth wire designed to protect the pylons from lightning strikes but why two?  I look forward to learning more so that I can cross it off my 'things I still need to know about pylons' list.  Despite all the time I've spent writing about pylons over the years and the fact that I'm a Physics teacher this is still quite a long list. Let me know if you can help to shorten it a little.....

 


Pylon of the Month - September 2016

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With a new school year starting, getting a pylon up on the blog for September is always tough and with the middle of the month looming, I'd begun to think that it might not happen.  Yesterday, however, I had a conversation with one of the students I teach and they mentioned that on the way to Heathrow fairly recently they had seen a line of pylons by the side of the motorway (so either the M4 or the M25).  Immediately realising that it would be of interest to me they captured the view on their phone and you can see the result above.  I don't have any more information that that, but thank you to the student for ensuring that September is not a pylon free month.

Just to give fans a bit more to look at, I thought that I'd also share a news article about a Stockholm architect's plans to convert two disused pylons into observation towers.

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The pylons are in Norra Djurgården national city park in Stockholm.  According to dezeen magazine

"Both we as an office and the client see an industrial historical value in keeping some of the big towers – they are quite amazing structures,"  Berensson  [the architect] told Dezeen.  "They have a great potential to be used for other things than carrying power lines – it's a tower for free!" he said. "There is also of course economic benefit in not having to pay to tear them down."

Remember this if you hear of any plans to tear down disused pylon in the UK!!


Pylon of the Month - January 2014

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Regular readers of this blog are probably looking at this month's pylon and wondering what is going on, but for the first pylon of 2014 I thought that it would be appropriate to feature the first artist to recognise the significance of the pylon.  The picture is by Tristram Hillier and was painted in 1933.  It is in the collection of the National Gallery of Scotland which has this to say about it:

'Pylons' was exhibited at the first and only exhibition of the modernist 'Unit One' group in London in 1934, where it aroused much interest. It was purchased from the exhibition by Elizabeth Watt, who bequeathed it to the Gallery more than fifty years later. In this painting the three tall pylons carry no wires and their location on the beach is deliberately enigmatic. The attention to detail and relocation of objects from their usual surroundings draw parallels with the work of Dalí and Tanguy. However, unlike those artists, Hillier does not use unlikely objects and improbable landscapes.

I was made aware of the picture when I read my copy of the Jesus College Cambridge annual report in which there was an article by a research fellow, Dr James Purdon about "how the first pylons stimulated the artistic imagination of the nation".  You can read it in the report here and so I won't attempt to summarise the article, but Stephen Spender (who has featured on Pylon of the Month before) and the poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis both feature.  I was also rather fond of another picture, Landscape with Pylons by Julian Trevelyan, mentioned in the article and shown below (image obtained from here) and the article made connections between surrealism and pylons that certainly gave me food for thought.

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Having raised Pylon of the Month to a new cultural high point, I thought I would briefly mention the fact that pylons are very much in the news at the moment in Ireland.  This recent Irish Examiner article gives a pretty good overview of the latest situation:

Throughout large swathes of Munster and Leinster, opposition has been mobilised against the proposal by Eirgrid to erect 1,300 pylons on a corridor running from Little Island, in Cork, through Wexford to Kildare. The exact route for the ‘Gridlink’ project has yet to be decided, but nobody within an ass’s roar of it is taking any chances................

If you want to follow development then twitter is a good place to start.  Search for the keyword 'pylon'and (in amongst lots of tweets from the USA where pylon refers to American Football and what we in the UK call traffic cones) you can find plenty of (mainly critical) tweets abouts Eirgrid's plans.