Betty Saumarez Smith

It being Mother’s Day, I have inevitably been thinking of mine, who died nine years ago, aged 96.

After she died, I wrote a short obituary of her for the Guardian, based on what turned out to be inaccurate recollections of her life. In fact, when I was sent the short obit. which appeared in the Girton Annual Review 2010 (her college), I discovered that she had gone to university late, aged 23, which I had never known and read, not Arabic, which was a myth, nor Chinese, as she had apparently tried to change to because her then boyfriend was working for Jardine Matheson in Hong Kong, but Part 1 Modern and Medieval Languages and Part 2 Archaeology and Anthropology.

The obit. says diplomatically that ‘one of her prime interests was sport and she played hockey for the University Women’s Combined XI and for Cambridgeshire County, in addition to tennis for the University and lacrosse for Girton’.

Here she is on the ski slopes in, I guess, 1936:-


Boom Cities (2)

As hoped, my copy of Boom Cities was waiting for me, Otto’s detailed and scholarly exploration of the politics of 1960s town planning (its subtitle is Architect-Planners and the Politics of Radical Urban Renewal in 1960s Britain). It’s a historical account as much as a purely architectural one, looking at how the radical changes to cities in the 1960s came about and who was responsible for them – the politicians, town planners and civil servants, at least as much as the architects themselves.

Of course, I strongly recommend it, apart from OUP’s outrageous price:-


Hong Kong (3)

My last shots of Hong Kong before heading back to London are three shots of buildings under reconstruction, all wrapped up and with bamboo scaffolding, a feature of the city:-


Hong Kong Art Fair (3)

Back to the Fair.

A nice Elizabeth Peyton at Barbara Gladstone:-

I realised that some of the more interesting work is in the smaller galleries at the back, including work by a French artist, Julien Segard, represented by a gallery in Kolkata:-

Another Callum Innes, shown by Fox/Jensen, an Australian gallery:-

I admired a work, Mühe Kopf U, by Andreas Mühe on König Galerie, based on a digital record of a decaying clay head (he’s about to have an exhibition at the Hamburger Hof):-

I actually preferred the Fair second time round, when I had a bit more time to explore, without the pressure of feeling that I had to see it all.


Boom Cities (1)

I have been looking forward to getting my copy of Boom Cities, which I hope is waiting for me in London.

Meanwhile, I was pleased to read the well informed and sympathetic review of it by Lynsey Hanley in this week’s New Statesman.

See @OSaumarezSmith’s Tweet:


Wan Chai

My next stop was Wan Shai, another of the older neighbourhoods, closer to the centre and a short tram ride away past Happy Valley.

It has a wonderful street market in Stone Nullah Lane:-

Otherwise, it consists of back streets stretching up the hill off Queen’s Road East.

I called in on another temple:-

And explored the back streets:-


Tai Hang

Since the Fair doesn’t open till 1 o’clock, I thought I would explore a bit of Hong Kong I don’t already know, helped by the invaluable Neighbourhood Walks at the back of Monocle Guides.

Tai Hang is basically just a small grid of streets just above what was the old shore line which gives a feel for what Hong Kong must have been like in the early post-war period, still densely packed, less prosperous, with small backstreet industries.

I started at the local temple:-

Otherwise, I just wandered around as none of the coffee shops were yet open:-