I was really pleased to have a chance to see the Beyeler Foundation, one of the great smaller museums of the world, on the outskirts of Basel looking out over fields. The building was designed by Renzo Piano and opened in 1997: rather classical with red sandstone columns at either end of a temple-like structure; filled with bleached oak floors and the best quality of natural daylight diffused from the ceiling. There is also a quality of it being inside out, with views out into the countryside and the garden, like the de Menil Museum in Houston:-
Monthly Archives: June 2015
Basel Art Fair (1)
I’ve never been to the Basel Art Fair before. It’s mildly overwhelming having the whole of the contemporary art world packed into a large Swiss warehouse, gallery after gallery stretching out into the infinite distance. What have I liked ? Pablo Bronstein in Franco Noero, a gallery from Turin. Quite a few Sean Scullys. Some wonderful Christos. New work by Grayson Perry shown by Paragon Press. I particularly enjoyed the showing of large works in the adjacent space under the title Unlimited including work by Ai Weiwei called Stacked (2012):-
And a poignant work by Kader Attia called Arab Spring (2014):-
I have just been to a discussion between Cornelia Parker RA and Jimmy Wales about the embroidery that Cornelia has made based on the Wikipedia entry for Magna Carta. The embroidery is currently (and temporarily) exhibited in the British Library before going on tour to the Whitworth Art Gallery, the Bodleian and other venues. There was an intriguing contrast between Cornelia’s views of Wikipedia as a pre-eminently democratic medium reflecting the voice and, by implication, the views of its individual contributors and Jimmy Wales’s description of the average Wikipedian who is a young, male techie (average age 27). Wales said that bloggers tend to be obsessed by the sound of their own voice whereas Wikipedians are obsessed by the protocols of accuracy.
We made a short excursion this morning to see the Pullens Yard Open Studios, a bit of unexpected late nineteenth-century urban development just south of the Elephant and Castle where James Pullen, a local builder, created an estate of 12 blocks intersected by workshop yards, now occupied by a miscellaneous collection of artists, writers, clothesmakers and a florist, serviced by the Electric Elephant Cafe:-
Canterbury Cathedral Stained Glass
We slipped into the Chapter House of Canterbury Cathedral in order to see the exhibition of Romanesque stained glass from the South Window. Some of the figures date from before the fire of 1174, so are amongst the earliest stained glass in the country, designed by an artist known only as the Master of Methuselah. They are what remains of 86 figures originally placed in the clerestory of the choir, so invisible to the human eye. This did not prevent an extraordinary display of vigour and humane realism:-
I haven’t been to Cotesbach since December 1973. It’s a Queen Anne house, added to in the later eighteenth century, and owned since 1759 by generations of Marriotts, who tended to be parsons as well as Leicestershire landowners and whose family papers are now preserved as an educational trust:-
A family album
After lunch today I was asked if I would be interested in seeing some family albums. I found myself having the unexpected experience of seeing photographs of my father and his sister as children, my grandfather, who I never met and had no real idea of what he looked like, and my great grandfather, the Archbishop of Sydney, at my grandmother’s family house in Hertfordshire. They show a prosperous, rather clannish Edwardian family circle, with a great deal of hunting and endless holidays in Scotland, just before the outbreak of the first world war.
My great grandfather:-
My grandparents’ wedding (my grandmother Muriel had met my grandfather in Sydney):-
I don’t know why I’ve never previously registered the grand black polished façade of Ideal House, just down the street from Oxford Circus tube station and immediately opposite Liberty’s. It was designed by an architect called Gordon Jeeves, a Scot (all early twentieth-century architects seem to have been Scottish), working with the American art deco architect, Raymond Hood. It’s not surprising that it looks as if it’s strayed from the streets of New York because it is a small-scale copy of Hood’s building in New York for the American Radiator Corporation:-
RA Schools Show
I have just been to see the RA Schools Show which is this year (as always) well worth seeing, partly because there is the vicarious sense of talent-spotting for the future, partly because it is a way of gauging the interests of a group of disparate postgraduate students and their attitudes to the use of media (this year painting, ceramics, woodcut monotypes and books) and partly just for the pleasure of seeing new work. One of them, Henry Coleman, has done a work which aims – and succeeds – in demonstrating what the effect will be when the new Chipperfield scheme allows the public to cross the Cast Corridor.
I only managed to take two photographs, one of the room by Rebecca Ackroyd:-
The other is of a rather fascinating work by Adam Collier:-
St. John, Bethnal Green
A trip to the local polling station gave me a chance to document the church tower of St. John, Bethnal Green, designed by Sir John Soane in 1826 for the Commissioners of the 1818 Church Building Act at more or less the same time that he was designing St. Peter, Walworth and Holy Trinity, Marylebone. It’s the standard model of Comissioners’ church: a big, barn-like interior to maximise the number of pews; ornament restricted to the church tower, which is characteristic of Soane with a small pepper pot, which was originally planned to be much higher:-
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