I love this time of year when the sun shines on the garden:-
The first bit of press has appeared in the Daily Telegraph colour supplement this morning for our new building development under the title ‘Grand Designs’ (it was already online yesterday on https://www.telegraph.co.uk/art/artists/royal-academy-250-inside-sir-david-chipperfields-new-56-million/). It seems quite fair, at least to me. It is impossible to escape the myth of dysfunctionality, ‘the Naples of the art world’. Is it ‘the establishment’ or not the establishment ? The article makes clear that it’s both.
I went to David Chipperfield’s offices last night to attend the launch of the latest book about his practice: they get fatter each time, but always in the same deliberately economical typeface, designed by John Morgan. This time there is an introduction by Fulvio Irace, a Professor at the Politecnico di Milano, which places Chipperfield’s work in the context of the postwar Milanese tradition of pragmatic rationalism: Aldo Rossi, obviously, with his interests in the city and classicism; Ernesto Rogers less obviously; and Carlo Scarpa, who clearly influenced Chipperfield’s interests in the fragment, in history, and in the relationship between survival and new build. What comes across is his interest in the layering of history in his projects – that he is working in a continuum, in contrast to many of his contemporaries, who regard building as a clean sheet. As he stated in a conversation with Peter St. John and Adam Caruso in 1997, ‘I’m not obsessed with the idea of a clean sheet. I think we are in a continuum and that our responsibility is to find clues in memory and context’. I find this helpful in thinking about what he has achieved in Burlington Gardens. It’s a combination of attentiveness to the quality and characteristics of the original building with an intellectual boldness in the insertion of new elements.
It’s about three years since I last went to the Chipperfield offices in a high rise (but not very high) overlooking Waterloo. I remember Chipperfield looking out over the urban morass and lamenting the lack of any systematic town planning, while I slightly relished the view of nineteenth-century streetscape. In the intervening time, the view has been comprehensively buggered by the horrible building south of London Bridge. How on earth did it ever get planning permission ?
On the other side is Grimshaw’s sinuous Waterloo station, majestic, but still unused:-
And to the north is Qatar’s latest London development:-
In rootling about for information about Arthur Lett-Haines (Lett as he was known), I was intrigued to discover Richard Morphet’s description of his relationship with Cedric Morris in the DNB: ‘Morris was quiet, humorous, impractical, country-loving, and determined to concentrate on his art (with its key activity of human observation) and on the world of plants and animals. Lett-Haines was complex and sophisticated, a natural organizer, and dedicated to expanding recognition of Morris’s art’. When Kathleen Hale, of Orlando the Marmalade Cat, was told by her psychoanalyst in the late 1930s that she needed to have an extra-marital affair to unblock her art, Lett obliged.
I refrained from taking photographs of St. James’s Park yesterday, having done so often before; but I couldn’t restrain myself from taking a few pics of Hyde Park in the early morning sun.
There is still the residue of eighteenth-century planting in the long, axial views:-
Then some rus in urbe:-
And Prince Albert’s Italian Garden:-
I went to the second half of the two Cedic Morris exhibitions – abundant floriculture at the Garden Museum and more restrained landscape and travel painting tonight at Philip Mould & Co. I hadn’t really registered him as a painter before (although there’s a very good Self-portrait in the NPG), not having seen Richard Morphet’s pioneering Tate exhibition in 1984. I certainly hadn’t registered the extent to which his graphic language – outline drawing, acute observation, a touch of surrealism – influenced Lucian Freud and hence John Craxton (or was it the other way round ?). The introductory panel mentions that he fell in love with Arthur Lett-Haines in 1918 and that they lived together thereafter, without mentioning that Lett-Haines was married and that they all lived together for a year.