Sally Clarke

I don’t normally like to use my blog to promote things, but the greatest pleasure of this last weekend with the change in the clocks was when the doorbell rang at noon on Saturday. I had discovered that instead of bicycling over to West London, it was possible to buy products from Sally Clarke’s shops online and they are delivered by bicycle for nothing. I thought the offer had come to an end today, but it has been renewed for a month for November. Nothing could be nicer than a box of treats with a special note inside to say thank you. I recommend it !


Simon Lewty

I have only just heard of the death of Simon Lewty, an artist I very much admired and whose work we collected in a modest way. Born in 1941, he went to the Mid-Warwickshire School of Art in the late 1950s and then Hornsey, moving back to Leamington Spa where he taught for many years. He lived almost entirely in his imagination, doing intense graphic work drawn from his subconscious. He had an exhibition at the Ikon Gallery in 1984 and at the Serpentine in 1985 and continued to show work at Art First. But he was too modest and perhaps too serious to thrive in the contemporary art world and we hadn’t seen him since he moved to Swanage. But I continue to think of him as a very good and interesting artist, doing work of great originality and imaginative intensity, a surrealist out of his time.


Sainsbury Centre

I got up at crack of dawn to go and see the Grayson Perry exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre, having missed it in Bath and York:-

An ivory Royal Sceptre from Benin:-


Grayson Perry

I hadn’t realised that Grayson Perry’s career goes back to the early 1980s, when he was already experimenting with a subversive attitude to folk pottery:-

I can imagine that the work didn’t go down too well in his pottery classes:-

Sales Pitch (1987)


Untitled (1987):-

A Design which Implies Significance (1992):-

Artefact for People who have no identity (1994):-

The exhibition made me appreciate much better his experimental attitude to the medium and how form was as important as content.   Punk meets New Romantic.

In 1993/4, he was taken on by Anthony d’Offay and I suppose the rest is history.


Warwick University

I spent the afternoon on campus at Warwick University in preparation for a seminar on ‘Writing about Art Museums’.

I was impressed by the transformation of the campus from 1960s industrial utilitarian by Yorke Rosenberg Mardall in the style of St. Thomas’s Hospital to contemporary utopian ambition with the new Professor Lord Bhattacharyya Building by Cullinan Studio:-

And, even more impressive, the new Faculty of Arts Building by Feilden Clegg Bradley:-


Royal Drawing School

We just had an event to celebrate the completion of the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem studios at the Royal Drawing School.   Designed by Simon Hurst, a former student of the Prince’s Institute of Architecture, they make much better use of the ground floor, dividing it into two large teaching studios or, alternatively, using one – as now – as exhibition space.   It has an ingenious system of heavy screens on industrial size wheels to increase available hanging space, inspired by the screens on which Hogarth’s Rake’s Progress hangs at the Sir John Soane’s Museum.

The new entrance:-

The rolling screens:-

And one of the two studio spaces:-


The Custom House (5)

So, the City of London’s planning committee has unanimously rejected the plans to turn the Custom House into a luxury hotel, shortly after it turned down plans to building a monster tower block next door to the Bevis Mark’s synagogue. Maybe there is a glimmer of a change of heart, a recognition that it is not necessarily in the City’s own best interests to go on trampling on its history.

But what is the best way forward. A planning inquiry ? A long-drawn out and costly battle ? Is there not some way for Michael Gove and/or the Heritage Lottery Fund to intervene to encourage the architects and developers to come up with a more creative way forward ?

The keys would seem to be:-

• Making the Long Room into a proper public space

• Opening up the river frontage as SAVE recommends

• Treating it as an important architectural monument, not just as an asset ripe for conversion


Hughie O’Donoghue (1)

Attached is a film of Hughie O’Donoghue talking very interestingly about the work he did on Deptford Creek near his studio in Greenwich during lockdown, which looks like a new direction. And about his time at the National Gallery, the influence of late Titian and the reason for changes in taste. It will be good to see these works, plus his big rusty shipwrecks, in his exhibition at Marlborough Fine Art on November 9th.