A School of Place ? (1)

I was slightly baffled to hear Michael Gove advocating the creation of a brand new School of Architecture on the airwaves over Christmas. While I’m sympathetic to the issues he raises – how to create a good quality urban environment – I am not convinced that creating a version of the École des Beaux Arts is the solution. Surely, it ought to be possible to work with the existing architecture schools, rather than have to establish a new one. Besides, the problems are immediate: how to enable the construction of new housing with public support. Gove is actually in the best possible position to make changes to planning law, which would be much more effective than putting money into a new architecture school.

My views as attached in The Critic:



Lucian Freud at the Garden Museum (2)

Talking of things which arrive unexpectedly through the post, I have just received a copy of the booklet published to coincide with the Garden Museum’s Lucian Freud exhibition – like the exhibition, small scale, but extra special, showing the full strength and variety of Freud’s work and the intensity of his engagement with plant life, quoting his teacher and mentor, Cedric Morris, who said, ‘when I see plants, I do not see prettiness but, rather, ruthlessness, strength, and lust’.


Christmas Cards

Having been away the week before Christmas and what with postal strikes and the fact that the GPO punishes anyone who puts our address as 133-135, instead of 135 only (I suppose they regard 133-135, rightly, as pretentious), we have returned to an unexpected mountain of Christmas cards, which I thought might be depressing, but is actually oddly, and unexpectedly, uplifting:  messages from old friends;  the odd change-of-address;  much artwork;  interesting choice of cards;  news from people we haven’t seen because of COVID;  a sense of connectness.   Since I’ve abandoned card sending, doing it electronically instead (and also somewhat haphazardly), this is a way of thanking those of my blog followers who sent cards.  

I particularly liked the old postcard of a brass in Saffron Walden Church with the greeting GAUDETE NATO SALVATORE, now that Happy Christmas is politically suspect.



We went on a Christmas Eve expedition to see St. Eugrad, a tiny church set to the edge of surviving eighteenth-century parkland, still active, but closed:-

There is a dovecot to the side of a nearby field:-


Winter sun

There are compensations for being in Wales at the time of the winter solstice: the fierceness of the sun when it emerges in the midst of rain; the emptiness at this time of year, exaggerated by the closure of the Menai Bridge, so that Anglesey feels a proper island:-