Alan Bowness (1)

There was an event at Tate Britain to commemorate Alan Bowness, its Director from 1980 to 1988. As always at such events, one learns thing I didn’t know – particularly about his great knowledge and passionate expertise about contemporary music, documenting performances in his diary from the age of seventeen.

But what I particularly want to be able to record in case it isn’t published was Jeremy Dixon talking about Bowness’s role as an architectural patron. First at St. Ives in keeping Barbara Hepworth’s studio as a museum which opened in 1976. Then, sitting on the competition for an architect for the Clore Wing and the selection of Jim Stirling in 1979 (it was Jeremy Hutchinson as chairman of trustees who had apparently instigated the project). Tate of the North followed, with Stirling again as the architect – a very important project. And then Tate St. Ives with Evans + Shalev as its architect after they had designed the law courts in Truro. Jeremy and Fenella Dixon were employed to design the Tate’s coffee shop before they won the competition to redesign the Royal Opera House. And then Dixon.Jones designed the Henry Moore Institute next door to the Leeds City Art Gallery when Bowness was running the Henry Moore Foundation. Quite a track record as a patron and supporter of architecture, leave aside his influence as a teacher of modern and contemporary art, his innumerable pupils, and what was acquired by the Tate during his time as its Director.

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