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:-
First, I want to thank all those readers who have already given so generously to our Appeal. It has both surprised and impressed those who are running it how much money has poured in this afternoon. Maybe it’s from my 7 readers in Argentina. Second, I should have said that one of the benefits of giving £250 is that you get a private tour with Joseph Green who is brilliant at it and, if I am available, I am more than happy to offer my services as well.
We had an all-staff meeting this morning which, rather amazingly, will be the last to be held in our temporary offices in Unilever House before we move back to Burlington Gardens early in the New Year. I realised when I did a post earlier in the week about our public appeal that I didn’t actually provide a link to how to make a donation, which is rather badly needed at this juncture, if we are to get to the £3 million we have set as the target.
So, all being well (it will take a minute to be added) here is a link to the film about the appeal.
And this is a link to how to give to it.
Any amount, however large or small, will be appreciated.
I went tonight to a lecture organised by the Architecture Foundation in which Jamie Fobert talked about his three current, long-standing arts projects, one of which, Tate St. Ives, has just opened.
He started with a modest installation he had done in Tate Modern in 2002, in which he demonstrated his interest in the placement of works of art in open space and the way the spectator related to them with extreme economy of means.
He was first employed to work at Kettle’s Yard in 2004, when he reconfigured a Chinese restaurant at the corner of the site and, following the death of Michael Harrison, was employed by Andrew Nairne to do a much more ambitious scheme, protecting, as far as possible, the Leslie Martin 1970 extension with its ample use of brick, but at the same time creating two generously proportioned exhibition galleries in the old terrace on Castle Hill and much improving disabled access.
He won the competition to transform the barns adjacent to Charleston Farmhouse in 2009, jointly with Julian Harrap (one of the characteristics of his talk was his generosity to the work of collaborators). The old barns have been restored and a new barn-like structure has been created alongside to contain archive, exhibition gallery and loos. The project is on site, due to open, he said, next summer.
I had no idea how long-drawn out and complicated his project in St. Ives has been, owing to the fierce determination of the local community to STOP THE TATE and retain the car park on the hill above the art gallery. In the end, he won the second competition with a project which is sandwiched between the car park and the sheltered housing by the beach. But it looks like a very intelligent solution, adding a large, open exhibition space underground alongside and opening up the existing Evans & Shalev 1993 building.
Each of the projects demonstrated the extreme intelligence of his approach to design, based on close attention to solving the problems of the ground plan and then allowing the shape and structure of the building to grow from the experience of its context and intelligent use of unexpected materials.