Sunday, 25 September 2011

Singapore race day(night)

There is certainly a unique atmosphere during the night race....the track takes on the appearance of one almighty arena under floodlights..there is a giant park adjacent to the track with a big stage belting out music all night...the only time one doesn't hear the music is when the cars take to the track......
What a Stella line-up of acts on stage...Boy George!....Rick Astley! think the organisers found an old 80's manual....and thought......yes get them!!
But there are some more contemporary acts too....Shikira...linkin Park..shaggy!...shows my age..don't know these!....somehow it seems right for acts to be playing at night.
There are so much for the spectators..all very civilised..apart from the Security....each time one goes in and out of the paddock, there is an airport style detector to pass through..with x-ray searches...this is the first race I have experienced this.
Met the CEO of the sponsors Singtell, nice guy had time to compose a piece for my book...he was quite nervous about the prospect of waving the checkered flag at the end of the race....he'd just been invited to do this..'What if I drop the flag!' to which someone replied.....'It hasn't happened yet!....
The quali took place quiet late at 10pm..the stands were thing I have noticed compared to other races the fans here don't carry or wear flags from their nations or teams..they don't really dress up...not sure why it would be different here..
I managed to walk around the inner circuit and find a spot to take pics...not easy taking taking good pics under floodlight....another Vettel pole...this could be the day when he secures his back to back Championship....still with 5 races to go!.....would be a good party if he wins..that's for sure!....

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Weekend under lights- Singapore

Just had breakfast at 2pm...the hotel is catering for the teams..although I was the only one in the dining room.....six waiters all looking at me , watching my every move and very keen indeed to tell me about their encounter with Schumacher yesterday...
Yesterday was a full busy day in the City and the track.
I needed to find some fabric for my paintings, was told to go to Arab Street area near Raffles  what a beautiful street laden with fabrics from all over Asia..I found one shop with local material..although local....this means a hybrid of  Malay and Indonesian..a very rich material of colour and beautiful floral designs, had a lovely chat with the lady owner.. who I must say wasn't happy when I told her I was going to cut up the fabric for my artwork!  Sacrilege!...she said....
She had many opinions about the Grand Prix too..saying that the cheapest tickets were too expensive for the locals..around £75.
Opposite her shop was the Main Mosque in this old part of the City..doesn't seems to be in evidence much ...just like Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai..the old quarters are barely noticeable...I cant help feeling that the spirit of the City dissipates with the suffocation of these historic ares of the City.
Hopefully in my Artwork I can show a little of this spirit alongside the impressive modern architecture and the beauty of Formula 1.....that's my note to self!..
When I arrived at the track the crowds were amassing...every fan seemed to carry the biggest camera!.
As I walked around the inner track wearing my Tabard as an official photographer...I could feel the crowds long lenses almost touching my I have lens envy from the spectators!!
So funny they are a creative lot these F1 crowds...because it's a street circuit the barriers are all blacked out with sheeting so the non paying citizens cant watch for see lots of holes cut in the sheeting with lenses poking through..with 2 little holes for the eyes!...
I received a call from the CEO's office to come straight away....not easy sprinting down the track..especially with these long lenses poking me in the face!!
So nice when all goes well ....Managed to get the CEO and Deputy Chairman of the circuit to write there piece first..they spoke about the unique atmosphere the night race has....absolutely correct!...amazing..Then the Dep Chairman Mr Syn....great name!...took me upto their suite in the Paddock Club where I met Mr E's girlfriend..told her about my work ..she had seen some before with Mr E...that's always a nice surprise when people know your work!...I was then introduced to the Minister for Trade ...he's also the Minister for the PM's office...they call him Mr 2M!...
He wrote a nice piece too..just as his food was getting cold!...
Mr Syn was so nice!   ...Syn can be good!!
His assistant Joyce..curiously English name was also great..infact this eve she will introduce me to the CEO of Singtel, the Main Sponsor of the race.....
Well it's 4pm now..time to go to the circuit......

Thursday, 22 September 2011


More like Singarich!...very wealthy state, there is a big rising growth in the Arts ...very important in this multi cultural country.
I arrived early Wednesday morning around 7am after a 12 hour flight...straight to the sumptuous Mandarin Oriental Hotel and to keep with UK time...Managing to stay on UK time..all very weird waking up at 1-2 o clock in afternoon..then having lunch for breakfast!
The teams arrive at the circuit around 3 -4 in afternoon, as all the activity practice and quali all take place around 10pm local time.
It's a beautiful mini-metropolis...all centred around the main Marina with the towering sands hotel ..3 towers joined at the top..quite spectacular, especially at night...this city come alive at night..amazing display of lighting..heavens know what happens when they have power cuts!
The track is so much part of the city, street circuit that snakes around the marina..I overlook the track from my hotel night the lit track looks amazing...very powerful lights..I walked the circuit on Wednesday night..what stuck me as with many street circuit ...they are quiet unforgiving in terms of crashing...the barriers are concrete...the drivers will shave these at 200 mph...didn't see any tyre barriers...quite a a giant scalectrix!
The security here is quiet intense hotel is inside the circuit...not easy to get back sometimes!..had to climb some barriers..all seems a little odd...most of the major hotels are inside the circuit....yesterday example.  I walked back from visiting the sands hotel over the main bridge across the Marina bay..half way down I was met by 2 stewards and a barrier. I had my pass to the circuit and paddock, there was another German guy with his pass too.....but they refused us entry saying we needed an all zone pass and that we should turn back...he wouldn't listen to us saying we have full access passes...the other guy was guest of Charlie Whiting Race Director....he had to call Charlie to allow him through...10 Min's later Charlie arrived....but still the steward wouldn't let us through...what a mad, surreal funny situation...there was Charlie Whiting saying to the steward..I'm the bloody Race Director....let these two people through!!.....the steward just kept on saying ..I can't!!....finally we were let through...this happens often ..takes the phrase Jobs-Worth' a whole new level!
I've been staying up until 4 am taking pictures around the city at night....lovely restaurants and bars...not cheap...As with Malaysia...there is a Strong British colonial presence here..walked past the Singapore Cricket Club....Famous Raffles Hotel..beautiful and the Fullerton Hotel..nice coffee there!
It's a sort of health farm work-out sweats so much...very humid and always feels that rain is never too far many previous races!
As a spectacle the Circuit is quite remarkable..I went on the Enormous Singapore Flyer....huge wheel much taller than the London!..what a view...took some great pictures up there
There are many spas and massage parlours here especially in the shopping malls.
I may try out the local fish spa...there is one place near the hotel...Fish Spa and Internet cafe!!
So place your feet in this pool with tiny fish nibbling away at your feet!...apparently it's amazing reflexology....all this as you surf the Internet too!!
Meeting the Circuit management today...looking forward to taking pictures during the first free practice.....

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Bella Italia!. Monza Grand Prix

Always such a pleasure returning to Italy, first time into Milan Linate airport.
Arrived Wednesday eve, picked up by a driver in a grand Mercedes..getting very blaze about this!
Still after 13 races seeing a driver holding my typed named on a card amuses me a little...
Straight to the hotel, curiously named Cosmo Torri..It does have a cosmos theme but in a very small way..shapes from a distant galaxy are dotted around the walls and carpets!

Back to earth...the drive to the Monza circuit around 15 minutes was so beautiful through the Royal
Monza Park, with the very grand palace. Very big park quite UN-Italian in a way ..informal quite British like.  The early morning dew glistened before the warm sun would burn through the clouds.
I didn't realise that Monza was quite a large town..I was expecting a tiny village like Spa.
Another great sight of the big crowds walking and cycling through the park towards the circuit...knowing that the crowds would grow and grow throughout the weekend.

Greeting us at the tiny main entrance were many devoted tifosi-fans waiting to grab an autograph...I can say it was chaos!..this was just Thursday morning!....the levels of chaos would ratchet up with each morning..but somehow being in Italy one expects that sort of contrast..all good humored madness...its amazing how the crowds just block all entrances and exits and not move!...
I was a little nervous about the Inking of the Tyres that day at 6pm in the paddock.
I was carrying the big roll of cartridge paper 10 metre. and all the inks weighing my down..the first two cups of coffee settled the nerves..
Had a meeting with Mr E's No. 2, about the press releases that Pirelli were due to send out..all approved.
Went the the Monza Autodrome office to introduce myself to the Director of the circuit, aptly named Mr Ferrari..saw him briefly and explained the project, said he needed time to compose his words and also at some point over the weekend he would find others...and he did..another full set!
He took me up to his suite overlooking the Pits on the Saturday to get the Mayor of Monza to write a piece, then the president of the Italian Motor sport.  On the Sunday Mr Ferrari called me to introduce me to the Minister of Sport..he wrote his piece in the middle of the Paddock..think it looked like I was an autograph hunter!
Very happy with the responses from these executives..nice people these Italians!
Not such a positive response from Santander who again declined to write something, I believe they may have misunderstood the brief. I will speak to Mr E about that.
Around 4-30 (Thursday) I arrived at the Pirelli Motor home in the paddock situated halfway down.
Brought the big roll and inks, and proceeded to layout the roll with the help of Alexandra from Pirelli whom I had worked on this collaboration with and Christian .the chief of Security in the Paddock.
I laid a bigger sheet of Plastic under first ..knowing that the paddock is hallowed ground!
Alexandra was a little nervous about the printing ink not taking to the tyres and therefore not printing...'Trust me ..I'm an Artist!' ...I said...
Think that made her even more nervous!
As the time turned to five thirty I started rolling the ink on the 5 tyres...3 colours blue , orange and was a very hot day day..I knew that the ink was slow drying with a vegetable oil base but water washable..clever,,smart ink!
Rubens Barrichello was the first driver to arrive 5-35 precisely for 10 minutes, by this time lots of press had circled the paper and TV crews..butterflies were flying around inside my belly..hundreds of them..though they were a disappearing species!
Rubens was given some latex gloves and I explained to him I wanted him to make marks and patterns with the inked tyres and to regress....go back to your childhood!
He used the entire length of paper to spell out his name with the tyres.....fascinating..I was expecting him to just make abstract marks.just after he signed Jarno Trulli came with Kobayashi..I sort of wanted all the drivers to come together but actually it created a different dynamic...
So I explained the brief to them both..Trulli proceeded to bounce the tyres down the paper..fantastic! he was doing this kobayashi instinctively helped me roll ink onto the tyres....he then started snaking the tyres creating nice this time Myself and 2 other Pirelli staff were frantically inking the tyres..then Timo Glock arrived ..had fun too..although wouldn't shake my hand...perhaps due to the fact they were completely covered in ink! shook my arm instead!
Mark Webber came after a few minutes ..I noticed more snappers when he arrived...He was great fun..
Although he did say to me....'I been asked to do some crazy things and this is up there!...
well .....flipping a car at 200 miles an hour ...flying into the air..then getting back into the car...that's pretty crazy !!
Mark made some great snaking patterns and even did a doughnut with the tyre spinning it...lovely markings!
So the result was a great 10 metre piece of Decorative Abstract printmaking..very happy with it!
Pirelli will make a special presentation in Brazil and donate to a Charity for Auction.
Suffice to say I was covered in Ink...clearing up took a while
Lots of people came to watch pleased because it's always good to have something different in the paddock and I was told it did create a buzz.
Looked forward to a big cold glass of wine after that!

Friday I went into Monza and around the royal park..lovely pictures..just outside Milan. then drove into Milan with a driver who had what what I can only describe as a nervous twitch..head and hands were constantly dancing around..arrived in Milan. Spent 2 hours taking pictures around the Duomo and La Scala...masses of people...amazing encountering two huge Temples in one day...
Monza circuit and the Milan Cathedral.
Beautiful pictures.
Friday evening I was invited with Formula one management to eat in the Mclaren Motor Home..very nice indeed.chicken the size of a small country!
Sat evening we were invited to eat in the Ferrari Motor Home..spoiled the phrase!
Lovely tiger prawns and wine.
Walking around the Monza circuit was such a delight..there were traces of the original track too..Monza celebrates 90 years next year.  The sense of history and legend is definitely palpable.
The weekend I have never seen so many fans ....all wearing red!...singing ..dancing..a real sporting party..they love their motor racing and also know how to enjoy themselves.
After Vettel's victory on Sunday the crowds all fled the grandstands and took to the track..this is unique here because the podium is on a platform across the pits , above the starting the fans ware so close to the drivers on the podium...millions of them..such an amazing sight!..completely mad!
What an a great week...lots of good memories already...