More of Avignon:-
More of Avignon:-
I came to see the Collection Lambert which I don’t remember being aware of the days when we spent summers in the hills above L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue: collected by Yvon Lambert and installed in the Hôtel de Caumont on the south side of the city:-
It includes works of minimalist art of the 1970s, like Richard Long:-
A work by Claude Lévêque in the attic:-
And works by Nan Goldin and Douglas Gordon.
It’s blistering hot in Avignon, as hot as hot can be, which has the effect of emptying the streets, so that they feel once again medieval. I am staying right in the centre, so am able to explore the old streets, behind the Palais des Papes, which is what brings tourists to the city and which I remember as very boring. But the streets are not:-
The Basilique Saint-Pierre is nearby, with its finely carved panels of 1551:-
Otherwise, I rambled. Down to the Collection Lambert:-
And back up the Rue des Teinturiers:-
And the Rue Bonneterie (don’t ask me why there was such elaborate gilded lace hanging out of the window):-
The discovery that Tower Hamlets is holding the hearing on July 30th. as to whether or not Raycliff Capital, a New York-based venture capitalist, should be allowed to convert the historic fabric of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry into a boutique hotel concentrates the mind.
The big problem is that Historic England supports the Raycliff proposal in spite of the fact that that their website states in large letters that ‘We protect, champion and save places that define who we are’. But not apparently a Bell Foundry which has been in Whitechapel since the sixteenth century and made the bells of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
There are probably three reasons why they have adopted this position.
The first is that they now give paid advice to developers which hopelessly compromises their independence. They can’t give paid advice to Raycliff and then tell Tower Hamlets to turn down the scheme.
Secondly, they claim that their statutory obligations are limited to the fabric of the architecture, not its use. So, they couldn’t object if St. Paul’s Cathedral is turned into a discotheque and won’t object to a Foundry being turned into a bar, in spite of the grandiosity of their mission statement about ‘protecting places that define who we are’.
The third reason is that the Commissioners are oriented towards the rural heritage, not the urban, the west end, not the east, the architecture of country houses, not the working man.
Why isn’t Martin Daunton, the Professor of Urban History at Cambridge, holding the staff to account ?
Why isn’t Neil Mendoza, the chairman of the Landmark Trust, objecting to the loss of such an important part of our industrial heritage ?
The answer is that they have probably never been.
We went back to Masterpiece, not the best thing to do on a hot afternoon.
We started with Peter Blake’s Some of the Things I Like Best About Britain:-
In those days, he liked The Royal Academy (Sometimes).
A necklace by Castellani:-
Turkish sherbet spoons:-
And an Alabastron:-
I nipped down to the Whitechapel Idea Store to acquire a copy of the pamphlet produced by the Survey of London, just in time to document its long and fascinating history before it is turned into a kitsch hotel.
Its origins go back to the 1570s when Robert Doddes started making church bells in a foundry in what later became Church Alley and there was an earlier foundry in Aldgate dating back to 1363. So, it’s old. They moved into their current building in the 1740s when Thomas Lester (sometimes spelled Leicester) moved the foundry to a site formerly occupied by The Old Artichoke Alehouse. So, the building is an example of eighteenth-century industrial architecture, with a house at the front where Lester lived and had an office and another house at the side for the foreman.
The problem is that much of the importance of the site lies in it being used for manufacture – the sense of retaining old ways of working, not the snort of the cappuccino machine.
The best way of doing this is for Tower Hamlets to come out in favour of the proposal put forward by United Kingdom Building Preservation Trust and Factum Foundation, which would involve re-employing Nigel Taylor, the previous foreman, to run it.
Finsbury Park is not my natural habitat, but I am discovering it is not without its charms, with broad streets, like Fonthill Road, a grand, Victorian, Congregationalist, now Catholic church in Tollington Park, designed by C.G. Searle, who lived in Tollington Villas:-
Early Victorian villas in Charteris Road:-
And a host of coffee shops and delicatessens on Stroud Green Road:-
Wickhams Department Store, the Selfridge’s of the East, opened in 1927 and serving East London until the 1980s, has now been cleaned, showing off its 1920s classical detailing, referred to in the muf joke of a broken column buried in the nearby pavement:-
I am posting a link to James Wood’s admirable and thoughtful critique of the intellectual origins of his generation of Etonians, schooled by Eric Anderson, the Scottish headmaster whose name he has inexplicably forgotten, in the responsibilities of noblesse oblige, but which has turned instead into arrogant self-regard and destructive nostalgia:-
The Zaga Christ by Giovanna Garzoni at Philip Mould:-
A very nice Cedric Morris also at Philip Mould (he supported the Cedric Morris exhibition at the Garden Museum):-
A very recent Peter Blake (2018):-
Finch & Co, including a sixteenth-century alabaster relief:-
Nicola Hicks in 2003:-
A Han Figure with Gilded Blue and White Bowls (2019):-