We had a cup of tea on the terrace of Wyatville’s cottage ornĂ©e at Endsleigh, overlooking the heavily wooded valley of the Tamar, planted out following the prescriptions of Humphrey Repton’s Red Book, which dates from 1814 and still survives: a deeply romantic view to match the picturesque fantasy of the house itself, where the sixth Duke of Bedford could retreat while looking after his nearby estates:-


Castle Drogo

We called in at Castle Drogo, Lutyens’s last, great, romantic castle on a hill north of Dartmoor, where Julius Drewe, who made a fortune out of the Home and Colonial Stores, established himself in castellated splendour; but the house is being radically restored because Lutyens was hopeless at plumbing, so there was not much to see except the long corridors of his extended house plan:-


St. Paul’s Cathedral

Readers of my blog will know that I never miss an opportunity to study, celebrate and enjoy the amazing stone carving with which the essential Baroque structure of St. Paul’s, stolid and agreed at the beginning of the design, was enriched and embellished by craftsmen working in the School of Wren, including work by Grinling Gibbons and Caius Gabriel Cibber in the north and south Tympana and, following Cibber’s death in 1700, much of it by Francis Bird, who had worked under both before travelling to Italy.

The great columns and capitals of the West Front were based on drawings by Wren from the 1690s:-

But who carved the smaller decorative putti and the rich, surrounding carving, so full of swagger and so carefully individualised ?


Mary Quant

We went to the Mary Quant exhibition at the V&A. It was packed. I was impressed how much survived, not all of it motheaten; but I also thought that the early work was surprisingly traditional, beautifully made, not haute culture, but still expensive, if not worn by a duchess, then by Chelsea types and models:-

See her Fitted Jacket and Skirt (1957):-

Georgie (1962):-

The change came, unsurprisingly, in 1966, with a more butch and military look:-



We went to see the new display in the jewellery gallery at the V&A.

We only had time to see a Henry Wilson cloak clasp (c.1914):

And a ring by Romilly Saumarez Smith, with Lucie Gledhill:-


Eileen Hogan

We were sent a link to Eileen Hogan’s lecture about her exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art on 8 May, the day that it was delivered and the exhibition opened, but have only just got round to watching it. We found it unexpectedly moving watching it in absentia – the story of her artistic life, brought up in Tooting and taught by nuns, then rescued by going to Camberwell and being taught, amongst others, by Robert Medley, then at the Royal Academy Schools and the Royal College of Art by Carel Weight, and winning a scholarship to the British School of Athens. Through all her time as a teacher and painter, she has stuck to a belief in the benefits of close observation, getting to know a subject, often gardens, and painting it with extreme sensitivity to light and movement and the seasons – the spray of water in Chelsea Physic Garden or winter in Chiswick – drawing it first, recording it in her sketchbook and then painting more formally in her studio. Of course, this is the traditional activity of the painter, but, as she describes it, now more radical, because increasingly unusual, against the tide of so much of contemporary art practice, still, as she demonstrates so effectively, beautifully valid.

I strongly recommend watching it:-



The South Bank

I walked along the South Bank this morning.

Past the National Theatre, whose great supporting angular girders were impressive in the morning sun:-

Past the underbelly of Waterloo Bridge, where booksellers must set up their stalls:-

And across Hungerford Bridge:-



A beautiful, choice, focussed exhibition at Hazlitt Holland Hibbert of the artistic, as well as personal, relationship between Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson at 7, The Mall Studios, after they had met on holiday in September 1931, beginning with Nicholson’s 1932 (crowned head – the queen):-

Alongside Hepworth’s Two Heads (1932):-

1933 (girl at mirror):-

Through to the more abstract Two Forms (1935):-

Some really beautiful work from the mid-30s, including small work and drawings.

1934 (act drop curtain for Beethoven’s 7th. symphony ballet):-

1934 (painted relief):-

A family album:-

And a catalogue of their joint exhibition at Alex. Reid & Lefevre:-


Female Priests

I called in on Jim Grover’s exhibition, Here Am I, in the gallery of the Oxo Tower which documents the ordination of female priests in the Southwark Diocese. I hadn’t realised how many women have now been ordained. There are 2,200 stipendiary female priests in the Church of England, 28% of the total, including 18 bishops (female bishops were only allowed in 2012), which means that much of the work of the church – community work, service in prisons – is in the hands of women, which Jim, who previously did an exhibition on the Windrush generation, shows with characteristic documentary thoroughness and thoughtfulness.


Alison Watt

The other exhibition I saw yesterday was Alison Watt’s new exhibition A Shadow on the Blind at Parafin. It was an odd coincidence that I had been talking over lunch about the symbolism of the two dolphins as the logotype of Thames and Hudson and there in the exhibition was a picture of a pile of books with the old dolphins on top:-