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London - Louise Nicholson and Richard Turpin



Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

LONDON is a celebration of our capital city; a book beautifully illustrated by Richard Turpin's exceptional photographs. If, though, it's postcard images of London you're looking for, it isn't for you.

Not that such images aren't included, for they are - the Tower, as seen from across the river; George Frampton's bronze Peter Pan, in Kensington Gardens; the Thames Barrier, beneath a cloudless night sky - it's all there.

But, for the most part, the images are of a far more intimate nature, revealing hidden aspects of an altogether surprising city.

Take for instance, the beautiful clockwork models of Messrs Fortnum and Mason that appear, on the hour, every hour; the brightly-coloured, shuttered windows of Spitalfields, or the beautiful wrought iron gate of Lincoln's Inn - images that a less discerning eye might overlook, but which, nonetheless, are as integral to the city's ambience as the more favoured haunts of tourists.

For convenience, London is divided into 11 sections. They include The Seat of Power and The South Bank, headings that clearly speak for themselves.

But, unlike some publications, London goes a step further, exploring in Palaces, Prospects and Villas, the city's outer environs - Kew Gardens, Hampton Court Palace and Richmond Park, for example.

They, by past association with the capital, are as much a part of London's heritage as Trafalgar Square or the Houses of Parliament.

And accompanying Turpin's images, is Louise Nicholson's text. Informative though never stifling, it does just occasionally disappoint.

I was particularly intrigued by the photograph of the Royal Exchange's gilded grasshopper but could find no explanation of its significance there. So, if anybody knows....

This is, however, a minor criticism of a book that serves its subject well. London is, indeed, an inspiration for armchair sightseers and dedicated explorers alike and a welcome addition to any bookcase.

A final thought - given that the forename, Richard was frequently transmuted to Dick - could photographer, Richard Turpin, and a certain highwayman be related? Or is it simply a coincidence?

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