Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Dora Gordine & Dorich House

Dora Gordine – Sculptor, Artist, Designer (1895-1991)

Dora Gordine & Richard Hare at Dorich House
(c) Kingston University Dorich House Trust

There are some great perks when you volunteer and even though I not yet a fully- fledged guide at 2 Willow Road (home of Erno Goldfinger) the National Trust guides and I went to visit a wonderful hidden house bordering Richmond Park.

First floor Sculpture Studio - with a lift to the ground floor plaster room
Dorich House was the home of Dora Gordine and her husband Richard Hare. It was designed by Dora, an unusual feat for an artist in the 1930s, let alone a woman, but that will tell you much about what kind of person she was.

At the time considered an ‘exotic’ and mysterious character, playing up her ‘Russianness’ she was thought beyond Bohemian! Dora had been born in Latvia when it was still part of the Russian Empire, and ended up in Estonia. This talented and ambitious young woman arriving in Paris in the 1920s from Estonia, was very determined indeed.

Original 'combination' storage units designed by Dora Gordine - c late 1920s.
The curved cupboard is made to hold 78 rpm gramophone records

A tireless ‘networker’, long before the term was even invented, Dora Gordine managed to impress many, and in all professions, including such luminaries as Auguste Perret, Laurens van der Post, Noel Coward, Somerset Maugham. Also excellent at self-promotion without actually seeming to do so; her strong personality, looks and talent ensured she got her way.

Whilst in Paris she did not spend her time at the cafes and bars, Dora was there to work! Apparently “she found the louche and frenetic social life of Montparnasse artists an unacceptably frivolous distraction.” Interestingly Erno Goldfinger, architect to be, was also studying in Paris at the same time, if they had met, it is unlikely they would have got on.

Dining Room in their apartment at the top of the house

Sitting Room with view over Richmond Park

She began as an artist and changed to sculptor and was noted by the mid 1930s ‘as possibly becoming the finest woman sculptor in the world’. Becoming a major presence in British sculpture, renowned for powerful and beautiful portrait heads, Dora Gordine and her husband resided at Dorich House for many years, it was Richard Hare’s sudden death in 1966 that put an end to her creative will.

Display Room across from the Sculpture Studio on the first floor

I share with you some of my own photographs taken during our visit. Below is a virtual tour of the property and a link to an Estonian art page, which gives more detail of this woman’s fascinating career. Do visit the house if you can. The next open day is on 6th December 2013. Check website for details or telephone. Also best to book a place on the 11.30am or 2.30pm tour.


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