Monday, February 28, 2005

Stand Fifteen Feet Below Your Statue...

As I have already discussed, the statues of Oxford do all tend to be located rather high up, either on top of buildings, or as is the case in this photo, near the top of a monument.

Perhaps the powers that be have positioned the great statues of Oxford this way to prevent the large student and vagrant population from stealing them as a drunken souvenir, or something. This would be entirely in keeping with some of the decisions made by the modern day Oxford county council over the years, but that’s a different (and extremely dull) story.

For now, this is the last of the statues from my hometown that I will share with you. We shall return to statue imitation on ground level in the weeks ahead.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Odd Looking Men With Beards...

The Sheldonian theatre is one of the most beautiful buildings found in the centre of Oxford. It was the first major commission for an aspiring young architect named Christopher Wren, and was built in the late 1660s. Primarily, the Sheldonian is a university building, used for major meetings and ceremonies. At other times, it is used as a concert venue and public lecture hall.

Of more importance to Stand By Your Statue practitioners though are the thirteen statue heads of men with beards surrounding the theatre. The official name for these are the Emperors Heads. Other than that, historians haven’t got the foggiest as to who they are and what they represent. Basically, they are just a strange bunch of imposing looking men with beards! Personally, I think they probably represent the life and theatre career of this man. Can you think of anything better?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Rooftop Piper Baby...

Alas many of statues in Oxford seem to be stuck on top of tall buildings, meaning that ladders, ropes and other climbing equipment are essential for those wanting to practice the art of Standing by your Statue. Unfortunately it was a bit busy around town to attempt a bit of freestyle climbing and abseiling to get a good photo of this lady piper during my lunch hour here, so we had to make do with this long distance shot.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Here Comes The Bod...

When you think of Oxford, you invariably think of the university, and you know what, having been fortunate enough to live here for the last seven years or so, off the top of my head, I’m afraid to admit that I know very little about the university! Sorry about that. I will try and do a bit of research here though, which I hope my friends in Oxford find interesting in particular, as I’m sure they know as little as I do.

University buildings do dominate the centre of town, and very beautiful they are too. None more so than the Bodleian library, the main research library of the university. The Bod, as locals and students tend to call it, is the second largest library in the country, and has an estimated eighty miles of shelves, so chances are you should be able to find what you’re looking for. For those not so interested in books, just to keep you interested here, the sorting hat scenes from the Harry Potter movies were filmed here too!

The library is housed in a number of buildings, and its heart you find the beautiful Old Schools Quadrangle, and this fine looking statue of a man holding a scroll, while sporting an excellent beard and moustache combo.

He is William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke. Pembroke College, one of the many colleges that form the university, was named in his honour while he was chancellor of the university between 1617 and 1630. He was a notorious womaniser, apparently, which is not surprising given the facial hair and boots on show here.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Welcome To The Ox...

This week we shall mostly be imitating some of the statues in my hometown, Oxford, in the UK. Please, make yourself at home, if you would like a cup of tea and a biscuit then just let me know…

Step out of the train station and one of the first things that will welcome you to the Ox is this whopping great ox. Welcome! Not a lot else I can say really.

(Apologies for leaving my portable pair of horns at home that day and having to substitute with a pair of gloves)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Some Statues Are So Nice, You've Gotta Stand By Them Twice...

Sir Winston Churchill, for us Brits one of the most important people of the 20th century. He was Prime Minister and leader of the allied forces during the Second World War, and a brilliant orator and a tireless source of strength to the British people, eventually overseeing victory over Nazi Germany.

Imagine the surprise on finding this statue of Sir Winston in the middle of a cold downtown Toronto then. He was a regular visitor to Canada too, however, where he was also an inspiration to the allied forces of Canada.

I speak on behalf of my relatives who fought in the War, and for all the people of Britain in saying that, Sir Winston Churchill, never before have we owed a leader of our country so much. We salute you!

In the photo above, my housemate John provides a great Churchillian pose, and, like I say, some statues are so nice, you’ve gotta stand by them twice, so I have imitated the great wartime leader below. Although I haven’t nailed the pose quite as well as John, I like to think that I have imitated the Churchill hairstyle just that little bit better!

Monday, February 14, 2005

“Hello again, everybody. It's a bee-yooo-tiful day for baseball”

Chicago, city of modern architecture, city of commodity markets, city of rock, jazz and blues, and, cue one of my greatest memories of Chicago, city of the deep dish pizza pie!

It is also the hometown of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, who play their games at the renowned Wrigley Field stadium. Situated just outside the stadium you will find this fine statue of Harry Caray, a famous major league broadcaster for 53 years, who passed away in 1998.

And with that, I will leave you with one of Harry’s philosophies on life:

"Booze, broads, and bullshit. If you got all that, what else do you need?"

Friday, February 11, 2005

Run By Your Statue...

Continuing with the Olympic theme, tonight we pay homage to the Barcelona Olympics of 1992. I should really comment on some of the great medal winning performances, but one of my overriding memories of the games was the one of Derek Redmond, a true Olympic hero in his own way.

This fine memento of the games can be found in a park somewhere in Barcelona, and features a running athlete calved into a nice looking rock. Alongside, we find a running Gael. I think you’ll agree that Gael is setting a fine pace here – keep it going and I’ll think you’ve got the winning of this race! Just as long as you do not suffer the same misfortune as Mr Derek Redmond.

Thanks to Gael’s son for taking the photo and to Gael for the first Run By Your Statue moment.

Talking of the Olympics, did I ever mention the sterling efforts of the Ultimate Olympian?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Celebrate Good Times...

The Olympic games in Athens 2004 – what a great occasion! I was fortunate enough to spend ten days at the games lending our voices and support to many competitors proud to wear the Great Britain colours. But, you know, it wasn’t really about that – the character, spirit and camaraderie shown between the competitors and supporters alike is something that will remain with me for the rest of my life. As will the efforts of the paralympians.

No amount of research, unfortunately, can uncover who this statue actually is? Suffice to say it was situated between the main gymnastics hall and the athletics stadium. I’m guessing that it was a famed Greek competitor from the first modern games, also held in Athens in 1896. In this picture, my housemate John provides a great imitation of the unknown athlete, capturing the good vibes and celebratory nature of the occasion perfectly. He could have done a bit of work on cultivating his moustache to be even more alike though!

I cannot talk about the Olympics without mentioning the sterling work of the Ultimate Olympian, who, in his own unique way, is just as worthy as the competitors at the Athens games. Visit his site and lend him your support straight away…

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Start Your Engines...

Tonight we take a trip into the world of NASCAR motor racing. Dale Earnhardt Senior was one of the most famous NASCAR drivers until his untimely death while racing in 2001. He was famed for driving the number three car (nice show of support there eh?!), and won the NASCAR champs seven times.

Many thanks to Janell for providing our latest statue imitation. Here she stands alongside Dale in his hometown of Kannapolis, North Carolina, with her arms crossed in a fine show of respect.

I’m afraid I’m not much of a follower of motorsports, but one thing that strikes me in particular about the statue is that Dale was absolutely huge! He must have been nine foot plus at least. I’m guessing that they may have had to rip out the front seats of his car so that he could drive from the back.

Only joking. Dale Earnhardt Senior, we salute you.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Raise Your Bat to the Don...

For the next week or so, I’m going to focus on legendary folk who have achieved sporting immortality. Many sporting legends have been worthy enough to be set in stone, and many of us mortals have paid our utmost homage in one of the finest ways imaginable - by Standing By Your Sporting statue.

Who better to start with than Sir Donald Bradman, the legendary Australian cricketer, who, quite simply, is the finest batsmen that the world has ever seen, and is likely to be the finest batsmen that the world has seen for a considerable amount of time yet.

Sir Donald we salute you, as does my friend Tim. This fine bronze statue of the Don is located at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which, funnily enough, can be found in Melbourne, Australia. And what a great antipodean pose it is by Tim, carrying his hat in his left hand with bat raised in salute in his right.

One statistical comparison between these two cricketers should be noted: Donald Bradman’s career average in test match cricket was an astonishing 99.94 runs per innings. Tim’s batting average in all forms of cricket was around 2.50 runs, and I’m probably being a little generous there ;-)

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Redemption Time…

The time has come to share one of the most recognisable and great statues of the world with you.

Known to locals as the cidade maravilhosa, Rio de Janeiro certainly is a ‘marvellous city’, one of the finest I’ve had the privilege to visit. On the one side, it is a city of beaches, carnival and football but by way of contrast you have one third of the city's population living in poverty in the favelas (shantytowns), which line the hillsides of the city.

It is also home to the Christo Redentor, the Christ the Redeemer statue. Sat on top of a mountain 710 metres high overlooking the city, and standing another 30 metres high with its outstretched and welcoming arms, it truly is one of the great statues of the world.

I was a little wary about imitating this one for its religious connotations, Brazil claiming the largest catholic population in the world, but, you know, travelling half way across the world it would have been a little rude not to. A more pressing problem for me on the day was the serious upset stomach I had acquired from the night before. Within five minutes of taking this picture I was crouched over a toilet half way back down throwing my guts out in the 40 degree heat! Nice!

You probably didn’t need to know that…

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The 'Dam Busters...

Not much to comment upon here. Couple of big weird plump human type objects in Amsterdam airport, and my friends Mik and John having a nice sit down.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Take Your Statue by the Hand...

Continuing with the visitors’ gallery, this evening we take a slight diversion away from the art of statue imitation to one of taking your statue by the hand. This theme is inspired from this great shot of Wayne Deacon, in which he is shaking the hand of an important member of the town of St Augustine in Florida as he receives the keys to the city. Stand By Your Statue extends its hearty congratulations to Wayne for this remarkable feat!

On a similar theme, in this picture my housemate John is engaged in a particularly fine looking game of ring-a-ring o roses with some school kids in a snowy Chicago, although the kids seem to be pushing him a bit too fast, as he seems to have lost the hand of the girl in the green skirt when I took this photo.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

A Deposit of Davids...

Tonight’s guest instalment comes courtesy of David Wood, taken from a trip he and friends took around Western Europe. This photo features a copy of the Statue of David, with the original sculpture currently housed in Florence. It is one of the most famous sculptures by the great renaissance painter Michelangelo.

Standing alongside David, we have, from left to right: David, David and David (Wood, Bertrand and Orr). A triple whammy of Davids, stood by David. Bravo!