I took Ricky Burdett and David Rosen round Burlington Gardens. Both have been closely involved with the project at different stages – Ricky as a member of the jury in the first competition in 1996, won by Michael and Patty Hopkins, but with David Chipperfield as close runner-up; David Rosen who was responsible for leasing the ground floor gallery space to Pace. Ricky’s comment was how unforced it feels as a project, using the existing spaces and enhancing their characteristics, rather than trying to impose new uses on them. I have never seen David Chipperfield’s entry to the 1998 competition and have often wondered how far it informed the intelligent confidence of his entry to the third and final 2008 competition ten years later:-
By an unexpected coincidence, I was having supper with some friends in Burlington Gardens on Sunday evening just as Sisk was dismantling the great crane which has towered over our two buildings for the last eighteen months at least. I had annoyingly managed to leave my mobile telephone at home, but borrowed someone else’s iPhone to take a photograph of the last moment of the de-installation. It felt like a historic moment:-
As the moment of our departure from Blackfriars approaches, I am paying more attention, once again, to our physical surroundings: this morning to the grand Victorian robustness of the underside of Blackfriars Bridge seen from the Embankment, designed by Joseph Cubitt and with metalwork by The Patent Shaft and Axletree Company in Wednesbury. It replaced the eighteenth-century toll bridge designed by Robert Mylne and opened in 1769:-
I went last night to hear Anya Hindmarch, one of the Trustees of the Royal Academy Development Trust, talk about the business of making and selling luxury handbags internationally. She made it sound charmingly straightforward as the daughter of entrepreneurial parents, travelling out to Florence aged eighteen and ordering some duffel bags which she sold through a feature in Harpers and Queen, opening a shop in Walton Street, and then gradually and incrementally expanding internationally, so that now she has shops all over the world. I assume that she must have had a great deal more steeliness and determination than she allowed to appear.
I was tipped off by Otto SS that St. Anne’s, Limehouse has joined the Buildings at Risk Register, published last week by Historic England. Since the structure has always seemed to be in good shape, built of the finest ashlar by Edward Strong and Edward Tufnell as masons, and since a great deal was spent in the 1980s through the construction of a new roof structure, overseen by Julian Harrap and with funding from the Getty, I wondered what it was that had led to its inclusion. The answer is that the walls of the interior, which was burnt out in 1850 and then restored by P.C.Hardwick, are indeed very damp:-
Inspired by Jamie Fobert’s talk at the Royal Institution about his work on Kettle’s Yard, I have been reading Jim Ede’s A way of life, his very detailed account of his life and, in particular, his philosophy of eclectic acquisition, how and when he bought – or was given – the objects in his collection, and how and where he displayed them in the cottages in Cambridge which he converted into a single house in 1957. Not least, I have been interested in the question raised in the Comments of the blog as to whether or not he would have been a better Director of the Tate, had he been available for appointment in 1938 instead of John Rothenstein. As Alan Bowness writes in the Introduction, ‘He might well have become director of the Tate Gallery in 1938 (and what a difference that would have made !)’. But admirable, charming and exceptionally visually sensitive as he so obviously was, deeply interested in the mystical communion with works of art and gifted in his associations with contemporary artists in both London and Paris during the 1920s, he doesn’t really come across as someone who would have wanted to be Director. He writes his own self-assessment: ‘At that time, 1928-1938, I thought I knew myself. I had a profound feeling for the essence of life of which I felt mysef to be a part. ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth’, so how could I despair ? I knew what sort of fool I was and what sort of fool I wasn’t. I knew I had little brain and much heart’.
Last week, we had a visit at the RA from the patrons of the Corning Museum of Glass in upstate New York. It made me realise how little I know about contemporary studio glass and more attentive to the set of glasses that we inherited by Steven Newell, a glass maker whose work we knew from when it was exhibited at the Prescote Gallery in Cropredy, north Oxfordshire in the early 1980s (does anyone now remember and value the work that Ann Hartree did in exhibiting the work of designer makers in the early days of the 1970s Crafts Revival ?). Newell, I discover, is American, was trained in Kansas City and Pittsburgh before studying at the Royal College of Art in the early 1970s and is still making and exhibiting work forty years later:-