Ayşe Erkmen’s The Space Inbetween

Most of us who frequent art exhibitions and museums have a certain pace at which we walk from one work to the next.
Faster or slower than that and it doesn’t feel right.
Now imagine walking through a space and having to wait for Work A to move out of the way before you get a glimpse of Work B.
It could either be one of those ‘how long is this going to take?’ experiences. Or it could be magical.

For all those of you who venture to see Ayşe Erkmen: Intervals at Barbican’s The Curve gallery, we hope you feel the latter.

Members of the public admire an installation artwork by Ayse Erkmen entitled 'Intervals' in The Curve art space in the Barbican Centre on September 23, 2013 in London, England. The work consists of 11 large theatrical backdrops which periodically move up and down on an automated system, partitioning the 90 metre long space.

Ayşe Erkmen is an artist who investigates the history and the politics of the locations her work is sited at. This is interesting in the context of The Curve –  a space that wraps around the back of the Barbican’s Hall while sitting above its backstage area. Playing on the idea of ‘behind the scenes’, Erkmen has created eleven scenic backdrops that are placed in quick succession across the narrow semicircle gallery. By raising and lowering these backdrops on an automated fly system, she creates a scenic walkthrough for vistors, often making them pause between backdrops as they wait for the one one ahead to rise up.

Members of the public admire an installation artwork by Ayse Erkmen entitled 'Intervals' in The Curve art space in the Barbican Centre on September 23, 2013 in London, England. The work consists of 11 large theatrical backdrops which periodically move up and down on an automated system, partitioning the 90 metre long space.

That the verso of each backdrop is matched by the front of the one ahead is poignant; almost making the visitor feel like they’ve been sandwiched between two works. Not being able to move around them is also key to the experience; you have no choice but to wait.

Members of the public admire an installation artwork by Ayse Erkmen entitled 'Intervals' in The Curve art space in the Barbican Centre on September 23, 2013 in London, England. The work consists of 11 large theatrical backdrops which periodically move up and down on an automated system, partitioning the 90 metre long space.

A powerful work that doesn’t succumb to our need for instant gratification, Intervals also covers different styles and traditions of theatre design across the carefully selected backdrops.


Ayşe Erkmen: Intervals
Up to 5 January 2014

Images borrowed with thanks (c) http://www.zimbio.com

A Modest Manifesto for Museums


We’ve been swept away by Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence and in our parallel reading have discovered his fascinating Innocence of Objects, that describes his inspiration behind writing the book and creating the actual museum.

For a writer (who had previously hoped to be an artist) to develop a fictional love story alongside building a museum of objects his protagonists would have used, is a mammoth task. And it took him over ten years to piece this all together. But with the book released in 2008 and his museum which opened in 2012 currently located in the Çukurcuma neighborhood in Istanbul, we can only be romanced by the delicate narrative he has crafted from found objects and the memories that surround them.

Museum of Innocence: Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence 1

But more fascinating is the Modest Manifesto for Museums he wrote in the Innocence of Objects. An ardent supporter of back-alley museums, flea markets and collections that tell the stories of individuals and not nations, here we reproduce Pamuk’s manifesto on what museums should imbibe –

A Modest Manifesto for Museums

I love museums and I am not alone in finding that they make me happier with each passing day.

I take museums very seriously, and that sometimes leads me to angry, forceful thoughts. But I do not have it in me to speak about museums with anger. In my childhood there were very few museums in Istanbul. most of these were historical monuments or, quite rare outside the Western world, they were places with an air of a government office about them.

Later, the small museums in the backstreets of European cities led me to realize that museums – just like novels- can also speak for individuals.

That is not to understate the importance of the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Topkapi Palace, the British Museum, the Prado, the Vatican Museums – all veritable treasures of humankind. But I am against these precious monumental institutions being used as blueprints for future museums.

Museums should explore and uncover the universe and humanity of the new and modern man emerging from increasingly wealthy non-Western nations. The aim of big, state-sponsored museums, on the other hand, is to represent the state. This is neither good nor an innocent objective.

Museum of Innocence: Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence 3

I would like to outline my thoughts in order:

Large national museums such as the Louvre and the Hermitage took shape and turned into essential tourist destinations alongside the opening of royal and imperial palaces to the public. These institutions, now national symbols, present the story of the nation – history, in a word – as being far more important than the stories of individuals. This is unfortunate because the stories of individuals are much better suited to displaying the depths of our humanity.

We can see that the transitions from palaces to national museums and from epics to novels are parallel processes. Epics are like palaces and speak of the heroic exploits of the old kings who lived in them. National museums, then should be like novels; but they are not.

We don’t need more museums that try to construct the historical narratives of a society, community, team, nation, state, tribe, company or species. We all know that the ordinary, everyday stories of individuals are richer, more humane, and much more joyful.

Demonstrating the wealth of Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Iranian or Turkish history and culture is not an issue – it must be done, of course, but it is not difficult to do. The real challenge is to use museums to tell, with the same brilliance, depth and power, the stories of the individual human beings living in these countries.

The measure of a museums’s success should not be its ability to represent a state, a nation or company, or a particular history. It should be its capacity to reveal the humanity of individuals.

It is imperative that museums become smaller, more individualistic, and cheaper. This is the only way that they will ever tell stories on a human scale. Big museums with their wide doors call upon us to forget our humanity and embrace the state and its human masses. This is why millions outside the Western world are afraid of going to museums.

The aim of present and future museums must not be to represent the state, but to re-create the world of single human beings – the same human beings who have labored under ruthless oppression for hundreds of years.

The resources that are channeled into monumental, symbolic museums should be diverted to smaller museums that tell the stories of individuals. These resources should also be used to encourage and support people in turning their own small homes and stories into “exhibition” spaces.

If objects are not uprooted from their environs and their streets, but are situated with care and ingenuity in their natural homes, they will already portray their own stories.

Monumental buildings that dominate neighborhoods and entire cities do not bring out our humanity, on the contrary, they quash it. Instead, we need modest museums that honor the neighborhoods and streets and the homes and shops nearby, and turn them into elements of their exhibitions.

The future of museums is inside our own homes.’

Museum of Innocence: Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence 5

Inspiring words by Pamuk, that make us rethink the way we approach museums. Are we playing tourist, or do we really want to get under the skin of a particular time and history?

And if you’re looking to make a start in the direction Pamuk thinks we should take, there’s a Museums Mile Showoff at the Bloomsbury Festival tomorrow that we’re hoping to attend. This is your chance to hear experts in the field give you their perspective on what museums are doing right, one voice at a time.


Excerpt borrowed with thanks from Orhan Pamuk’s The Innocence of Objects, published by Abrams.
Images courtesy http://www.theguardian.com. Click for captions.

Adrián Villar Rojas – Rebooting the Serpentine

There’s something about the Adrián Villar Rojas exhibition that adds a sense of mystery to the new Serpentine Sackler Gallery. Titled Today We Reboot The Planet, Rojas’ work has consumed the Gallery, covering it’s floors and core with brick and concrete as if to give it a new form and life. And in doing this through his signature large scale installations, he explores several themes including those of the fossilised monument, the vulnerability of the natural versus the man-made, and art taking over a given space to add greater meaning.

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The Serpentine Sackler Gallery in it’s newly renovated form and with an extension by Zaha Hadid Architects was built in 1805 and was originally used as a gun powder store. And at the heart of the Gallery are two vaulted passages that no doubt will be put to dynamic use by all exhibiting artists. Rojas himself has left one empty for visitors to walk through while the other contains a floor-to-ceiling presentation of the unfired clay sculptures he and his team have made during his residency in London. These numerous sculptures are misshapen and otherworldly, and are aimed at representing how human interference affects nature’s intent.

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We love the brick floor, the way Rojas’ work sweeps across the space, and the fact that cracks, imperfections and unabashed vulnerability is celebrated in this display. Add to that the mystery of what the Gallery actually looks like given that most of the central area and floor have been taken over by this site-specific installation.

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We’re still undecided about the Hadid extension wrapped around the corner of the historic building, but then it brings with it great potential as a cafe or events space. More on this soon as we’re going back to explore shortly.

Adrián Villar Rojas – Today We Reboot The Planet 
Serpentine Sackler Gallery
Till 10 November 2013

Richard Rogers: Inside Out


The current Richard Rogers exhibition at the Royal Academy is deeply thoughtful and inspiring. And more than a historic documentation of all of Rogers’ projects, this retrospective offers a wealth of wisdom about being a socially conscious architect, in a way that Rogers thought architecture should be. In what took us three well-spent hours to walk through this display, here are some of Rogers’ ideas that remain with us several days later –

‘Architecture is too complex to be solved by any one person. Collaboration lies at the heart when different disciplines, from sociology to mathematics, engineering to philosophy, come together to create solutions.’

Centre Pompidou, Paris, 1971-77. Piazza. (Image Source: http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/)


‘The scale of a building is not defined by its size alone, but by the articulation of its parts. To reduce the apparent bulk of the Pompidou, we created a façade that could catch and sculpt the light. A layered façade, not a wall, but a series of transparent screens, metal structures with terraces and balconies, one behind the other.’

Centre Pompidou, Paris, 1971-77. (Image Source: http://articolor.wordpress.com/)


‘My first government appointment after finishing the (Centre) Pompidou was to join the Board of Tate Gallery. Later I became Chairman. It was a wonderful experience surrounded by knowledgeable artist trustees: Tony Caro, Patrick Heron, Rita Donagh, but it was also in some ways an old-fashioned institution.

One of my last jobs was to sit on a small committee to appoint a new Director. I consider my greatest achievement to be appointing Nick Serota, a man who has totally changed the culture of art in this country.’

Centre Pompidou, Paris, 1971-77. Colour-coded external services. (Image Source: http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/)


‘What I stand for is more important than what I have achieved.’

 - Completed
National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff, 1998-2005 (Image Source: http://www.richardrogers.co.uk/)


‘To bring about change you need to campaign constantly. Demonstrations, parliamentary speeches or the way you run your life and business could all be means at our disposal. It is equally important to campaign for the planting of a tree as for a just National Planning Policy.’

‘I shall leave this City not less but more beautiful than I found it” was the ancient Athenian citizen’s oath and is the driving ambition behind my work.’

Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport, London, 1989-2008 (Image Source: http://www.richardrogers.co.uk/)


‘No one is more integral to the clarity of a project than an enlightened client.’

‘Work is not an end in itself. A balanced life includes the enjoyment of leisure and time to think.’

‘In ‘open-minded’ spaces we are readier to meet people’s gaze and participate. These spaces give us something in common, bring together diverse sections of society and breed a sense of tolerance, awareness, identity and mutual respect.’

Lloyds of London, London, 1978-86 (Image Source: http://www.richardrogers.co.uk/)


‘Our buildings are more like carefully designed indeterminate objects than frozen temples. Flexibility to meet the changing needs of a building over time is key to our design approach.’

‘Architecture is measured against the past, you build in the present and you try to imagine the future.’

‘Good design humanises. Bad design brutalizes.’

Barajas Airport, Madrid, 2000-05 (Image Source: http://www.richardrogers.co.uk/)



We love the explosion of colour that is Inside Out, the personality of Rogers’ that shines through, and the vibrant open room at the end of the exhibition with its wall covered with ‘Your Ideas for London’.

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Don’t miss the poetic note written to Richard Rogers at birth by his uncle, the architect Ernesto Rogers.
Calling him ‘Dani’ it says,’Dani, beautiful baby, this is life – do you like it?

It goes on to have Ernesto describing himself –
‘In general I am likeable.
I am not handsome but I live to compensate the world,
forcing myself to invent beautiful things.’

And among other bits of wisdom, Ernesto tells Richard to,
Life is beautiful, life is curious
Many get confused and spend their lives eavesdropping through the door.
Break through the door!’

Such honesty is hard to come by. But when we do, it stays with us a long time.

Richard Rogers
Royal Academy – Burlington Gardens
Till 13 October 2013

Richard Ross – Waiting for the End of the World


Richard Ross is one of those photographers who’s work never fails to make us react, be it with empathy or a shudder. Two series of images that have elicited our strongest responses are Juvenile In Justice that documents the placement and treatment of American juveniles housed by law in prison-like facilities, and Architecture of Authority that captures the unsettling interiors of prison cells, detention facilities and spaces that are designed to exert obedience and influence over visitors that pass through their doors.

But the one set of images that made us smile, if only a slight ironic one, is his series Waiting For The End Of The World that documents underground shelters, built to protect humans (a lucky few) from a host of evils including a nuclear attack, the next world war, a possible alien invasion, and more images of Miley Cyrus twerking.

Ranging from those that have arrows that clearly point to their ‘secret’ location, come equipped with rocking chairs, balloons and pink cell doors, to those that are garnished with political propaganda and asbestos warnings, these shelters as Ross discovered, come in all shapes and styles.

Kelvedon Hatch, Essex, England, 2002


Kelvedon Hatch, Essex, England, 2002


Charlie Hull’s shelter, Emigrant, Montana, USA, 2003


Kitchen in Shelter Managed by Charlie Hull, Emigrant, Montana, USA, 2003

Charlie Hull’s Shelter, Emigrant, Montana, 2003


Shelter, Vitznau, Switzerland, 2003


Abbey Data Storage, Bellsize Park, London, England, 2002


Shelter, Conroe, Texas, USA, 2003


Shelter, Conroe, Texas, USA, 2003


Underground City, Beijing, China, 2003

Underground City, Beijing, China, 2003

Andair AG, Zurich, Switzerland, 2003


Public Shelter, Zurich, Switzerland, 2003


“The Trendy Griboyedov Club”, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2003


DEFREK, Cambridge, England, 2002


Anstruther, Scotland, 2004

All Images borrowed with thanks (c) Richard Ross

Stephen Wright – House of Dreams


Welcome to the world of Stephen Wright, the resting place for the discarded, the imperfect and the commemorated objects of the everyday.


Tucked away on a quiet East Dulwich street is Wright’s House of Dreams, a two storey house, the lower floor of which he has dedicated to his museum of everything, that is like no other we have seen.


Recently Wright was kind enough to take us around the House, a project he started in 1998 with his then partner Donald as a simple floor mosaic which gradually expanded into the nearby rooms to take on the form it currently has today – magical interiors where the walls and ceilings are covered with personal and found objects that commemorate life and death. When Donald passed away four years into the project, followed by the death of both of Wright’s parents, the House of Dreams took on greater significance and personal meaning.


As Wright took us through the rooms, he pointed to one of them which he said was complete. Every inch of the walls and ceilings was covered, and we couldn’t help but ask how he knew that the space was complete, and that he wouldn’t go back to a particular spot to change something. To which Wright said that there was nothing else he could add to it, it was finished, and that time being what it is, he had to move on to complete other parts of the house. This sense that there is always more to do and that we have limited time is something that the House of Dreams makes you think about. And by it’s very nature, where its existence is tied to its current location, we couldn’t help but get a strong awareness of the inevitability of change and mortality.




Wright who as an artist works with a wide range of materials from mosaics to fabrics, is strongly influenced by the folk art traditions of Mexico, South America and Asia. Feeling a strong connection to these cultures and especially their religious and spiritual iconography, his House of Dreams comes across not only as a representation of death and commemoration, but also a resting place where you are kept safely after you have fulfilled your purpose. While he sources most of the objects from markets and shops, he also has friends and visitors bringing him material to use. And sometimes this even happens to be belongings of a departed loved one.

Though death might be one of the obvious themes, the House is a colorful, celebratory environment, sprinkled with thought provoking passages from Wright’s notebooks, including one of the final passages he wrote after Donald’s passing. Reading these makes you realise how deeply personal this environment is to Wright.


Wright’s work is very much in line with French art environment builders Bodan Litnianski and Raymond Isidore who built La Maison Picassiette. And we couldn’t help but ask what his own living quarters upstairs were like. Are they as colourful and filled with objects as the House? Wright did reveal that he lives in a more regular environment, and he did move a lot of his work downstairs when he met his current partner Michael, an actor by profession who though not directly involved in Wright’s work completely understands the creativity and the passion he puts into the House.

The more we spoke with Wright, the more we got a sense that the House is his world, it is the London he exists in. The hustle and bustle of the big city is what he escapes and what he offers to people coming into the House. And with a lovely peaceful garden at the back, it is evident that Wright’s world is a paradox of busy colour but quiet contemplation.


When we asked about his inspiration, Wright revealed that the place he usually goes to a few times a year is the Great Dixter House & Gardens in East Sussex, which he finds very inspiring. And he also visits Paris where he has exhibited his work and where he often sources material for the House.

A definite must see if you’re exploring ideas of memory and death, the House of Dreams has been bequeathed to UK’s National Trust and Wright hopes it will continue to exist in its current form long after he is gone. It can be visited by appointment as well as on the next open day which is 7th September 2013.


We loved the House, Wright’s penchant for damaged dolls, his friendly and welcoming manner, and his honesty when he says he is still surprised that visitors come to visit the House from all across the world. But then no distance is too great for art aficionados to travel when they hear about an interesting project, and especially an environment as unique as the House of Dreams. They might be Wright’s dreams, but they are not so far from some of our own.

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Friday Inspired – Modern Architecture in Movies


Here’s introducing a new series of guest posts called Friday Inspired, where some of our favorite creatives contribute ideas and images that have inspired them this past week.

Independent curator Veeranganakumari Solanki’s find this week is A Brief History of Modern Architecture through Movies

“It’s like the movies!”
Incidents that seem unreal, dreams that come true, perfect settings for perfect situations – these are things that don’t occur on a daily basis (at least for most people), and when they do, we often compare them to being picture perfect or the utopic realisation from movies that we’ve seen or heard of. I recently came across this piece on “A Brief History of Modern Architecture through Movies”, which in fact reverses the above mentioned outlook and “Ways of Seeing” (John Berger would be glad!)

This post on Architizer takes one on a guided tour of architecture from Art Nouveau in Midnight in Paris all the way to Futurism in The Fifth Element! In a world of moving imagery and rapidly fading histories being swallowed with the progress of the future, this one’s a great find for architecture and movie buffs to pause time and recreate utopias! Travel through these movies to learn the history of architecture…

 Art Nouveau in Midnight in Paris (2011)


Futurism in The Fifth Element (1997)


Fascist Architecture in Equilibrium (2002)


Modernism in Playtime (1967)


Brutalism in Dredd (2012)


Digital/Parametric in Tron Legacy (2010)


Veeranganakumari Solanki is an independent art writer and curator based in Mumbai, India
Her curatorial work includes Barbed Floss that opened at The Guild on 31 July.


A.G. Rizzoli: Yield To Total Elation

We haven’t seen art like this before and it’s another one of those mindblowing artists from the Alternative Guide to the Universe exhibition at Hayward Gallery.

A.G. Rizzoli or Achilles Gildo Rizzoli as his full name stands, deserves a reverent stroll around the gallery, and in fact several back and forth’s and across the room’s.

A San Francisco resident, Rizzoli was born in 1896 and spent most of his life employed as an architectural draftsman. He was quintessentially what you would classify as a competent employee and a devoted son. Celibate for life and with few friends, Rizzoli was also a visionary artist whose work was only discovered several years after his death in 1981. Possessing a highly vivid imagination, his drawings depicted people and events as towers, cathedrals and various other architectural edifices, while skillfully marrying Art Deco, Rennaissance and a number of other architectural styles.

Rizzoli invented a world expo that he called Y.T.T.E. (Yield To Total Elation) that is featured in several of his drawings, journals and architectural plans. And he also hosted an annual exhibition from 1935 to 1940 at his home in San Francisco called the A.T.E. (Achilles Tectonic Exhibit). Sadly these exhibitions were not popular, attracting only a few visitors in the form of family members and the children who played on his street. But he documented nearly everyone who visited these exhibitions in his drawings, some of which are below.

While this is all very creative and fascinating, the most poignant aspect of his work is that Rizzoli was a man who found it easier to communicate with the world through his drawings; be it thanking someone who came to visit, or a little girl who liked his annual exhibition. And he made his drawings powerful and magnificently detailed, investing in them the very best parts of him, that he otherwise found hard and maybe impossible to share with anyone.

An artist who failed to receive any recognition during his life time, we’re delighted that Hayward Gallery has included him in the show. Our favorites are the cathedral-like Mother Symbolicly Represented, 1935 and the phallic shaped The Primal Glimpse at Forty, 1936 –  Rizzoli drew this work as an immediate reaction to seeing the genitalia of a little girl on the street outside his house. Rizzoli remained celibate all his life and died an undiscovered genius in 1981.

Alfredo Capobianco and Family Symbolically Sketched,1937 (Image Source: http://jessicawallis.files.wordpress.com/)


The Palace God is Building for Abraham N. Zachariah, 1939 (Image Source: http://www.abcd-artbrut.net/)


In appreciation of the kindly interest they have shown in their visit to the A.T.E. during its first anniversary day, August 2, 1936 (Image Source: http://palad1n.com/)


Mother Symbolicly Represented,1935 (Image Source: http://www.larochestonebook.com/)


Mother Symbolically Recaptured, 1957 (Image Source: http://www.thetimes.co.uk)


Shirley’s Temple, 1939 (Image Source: http://www.cocanha.com/)


The Primal Glimpse at Forty, 1936 (Image Source: http://www.spamula.net/)


“That you too may see something you’ve not seen before”
A.G. Rizzoli

Alternative Guide to the Universe
Hayward Gallery
Till 26 August 2013

Gabriele Basilico’s Biennale Impressions

It takes some skill to imagine an empty Giardini in Venice, especially if you’ve visited over the last few months like we did for the ongoing Venice Biennale – Il Palazzo Enciclopedico. With tourists everywhere and just as many people as artworks within the various pavilions, it made us wonder what it would be like to have the place all to ourselves.

But we didn’t have to wonder too long as Gabriele Basilico’s images did come in handy.

An acclaimed photographer with a background in architecture, Basilico (who passed away in February this year), devoted his career to photographing landscapes and space, with a special series on the Biennale pavilions in Venice. And these aptly accompany a brilliant anthology of essays titled Common Pavilions that debuted at the 2012 Architecture Biennale in Venice.

While the essays make for an excellent read (click on each image below), we can’t help but marvel at the stillness and grandeur of Basilico’s images. Sometimes it is the space that makes the art.

Italian Pavilion, 1932


Spanish Pavilion, 1922


Austrian Pavilion, 1934


Canadian Pavilion, 1958


Brazilian Pavilion, 1964


Danish Pavilion, 1932


Egyptian Pavilion, 1932


Finnish Pavilion, 1956


French Pavilion, 1912


German Pavilion, 1909


Great Britain, 1909


Greek Pavilion, 1934

Hungary, 1909


Japan, 1956


Republic of Korea, 1995


Scandinavian Pavilion, 1962


USA Pavilion, 1932

All images courtesy Bauwelt

Richard Greaves – Anarchitect


Sometimes you discover art so unbelievably mad, it’s brilliant.
And Richard Greaves falls into this category.

Part of the Alternative Guide to the Universe exhibition at Hayward Gallery (sadly only individual artists impress me rather than the exhibition as a whole), Greaves’ work has to be seen to be believed. But that would require a trip to Beauce, Quebec where he built over twenty of these structures on a plot of land that he and some friends purchased in the 1990’s.

So for now we’ll have to make do with some black and white images by Mario del Curto.

What makes Greaves special is that he takes dilapidated and abandoned structures apart, and puts them back together using twine and found material. Made in a unique Greaves’ style, these are structures that you can actually walk into and move around in. But I’d be a bit wary about doing this.

Image Source: http://bugnag.com/


The Three Little Pigs House (Image Source: http://bugnag.com/)


Image Source: http://bugnag.com/


Image Source: http://bartlettyear1architecture.blogspot.co.uk/


The House with Windows (Image Source: http://www.facebook.com/artofoutsiders)


The Cathedral, late 1990s (Image Source: http://www.vertetplume.com/)


As lopsided as lopsided can get, these structures impress on me the fact that there is no box to stay within, other than the ones we make for ourselves. Even without following norms, there is a harmony to be found that can be uniquely yours. And looks like Greaves has found it.

Alternative Guide to the Universe
Hayward Gallery
Till 26 August 2013