While on the subject of Carlo Scarpa, I had forgotten that he was responsible for the design of Frescoes from Florence, the exhibition at the Hayward Gallery held in 1969 as a thank-offering to the British for the help that they had given after the floods of 1966. He stayed at the Ritz, bought shoes from Lobb, and was taken by Stefan Buzas with whom he worked on the design of the exhibition to see the Soane Museum. ‘His lightning-quick eye made him understand the purpose of our visit, and the contact between two so closely related spirits was immediate’.
After the loss of a chunk of my library in a warehouse fire, I was touched to read what Carlo Scarpa’s brother said of his library after his death (he had over 1,000 works of fiction): ‘It was not just a library made up of books, but of relationships lived with friends, with conversations and exchanges of ideas and arguments with artists and men of letters, colleagues and friends, who used to drop by and for whom his house and library were open at all times and to everyone’.
I was once gently chastised by Humphrey Stone for describing his father, the wood engraver, Reynolds Stone, as an Old Etonian, which he was, the son of an Eton master and the grandson as well, but now that Humphrey has written a short, but highly evocative and, not surprisingly, beautifully illustrated biography of his father, I can see that the description is annoying, if not irrelevant, when applied to someone who was such a thoughtful and intense craftsman. He was the designer, which I knew, of the bookplate of the London Library, but also, which I did not, of the Economist masthead, the New English Bible and the logo for Dolcis shoes, as well as multiple carved inscriptions, all of them intelligently well judged, based on Renaissance letter forms, which he learned originally from studying type at Cambridge University Press.
I went to the memorial event for Ted Cullinan, held at St. James’, Spanish Place, where his parents were parishioners, but it was scarcely religious, apart from singing Jerusalem, with much poetry, guitars and a stirring rendition of ‘He’ll be coming round the mountain’. As often, one learns a lot from a memorial service: the size of his family – children and grandchildren; their devotion to him; his gentle and passionate anarchy, which included driving through the pedestrian entrance at Tesco’s. Reading his obituaries, I wasn’t surprised that he had studied at Berkeley, California in the early 1960s, which helps explain his bicycling utopianism. ‘A libertarian socialist’ was how he described himself.
I feel that I should know Downing better than I do. I don’t ever remember setting foot in it as an undergraduate – too far from the centre, its main entrance set back unobtrusively off Regent Street, its campus private, its focus on medicine, law and engineering. But the fellows employed William Wilkins, then a young fellow of Caius, full of the fire of his recent study and explorations of Greece and Asia Minor; and the quality of Downing’s detailing is much more crisp and correct, more learned in an interesting way, than his later work on University College and the National Gallery:-
I went the the small exhibition in the very beautiful Heong Gallery in Downing College devoted to Hepworth’s late work, post-1956, when she was in her sixties, living on her own in St. Ives, suffering from cancer, but, at the same time, internationally well recognised, the subject of a solo exhibition at the Tate in 1968 and a monograph on her sculpture, edited by her son-in-law, Alan Bowness, in 1969.
Sphere with Inside and Outside Colour (1967):-
Two Forms (Divided Circle) (1969):-
Disc with Strings (Moon) (1969):-
Having failed to find much information online about the work of Godfrey Samuel as an architect in spite of the fact that he was a founder member of the architectural practice Tecton in 1932, designed a number of modernist houses in the 1930s, corresponded with Le Corbusier about how to get La Ville Radieuse translated in 1936, and was one of Corbusier’s hosts at the MARS exhibition on The Elements of Modern Architecture in January 1938, I have discovered that there is more, and unexpected, information about him in ThePeerage.com: born in 1904, so in his late twenties as a member of Tecton, he had been at Balliol before, I assume, being a student at the AA; a bachelor, he died in 1982 and left all his papers to the RIBA.