Friday, 4 April 2014

It's all Black & White to me!

The last five days ...

What an extraordinary and enjoyable time I’ve been having viewing black and white photographs! The' extraordinary' being the venues as much as the works.

The National Portrait Gallery being least so, but by no means the less (you get my meaning) showing the Bailey’s Stardust Exhibition.
With my Art Fund Card in my pink gloved mitt, off I went to join my lovely friend Leigh to view Bailey’s ‘outstanding contribution to photography and the visual arts, creating consistently imaginative and thought-provoking portraits.’ (taken from NPG handout).

There is room after room of photographs, beautifully hung, some high up like the old-style Royal Academy, very effective as some of the rooms are tall and thin. The photographs are well spaced, large and impressive enough to make an impact even on high. There are also coloured prints.

When I think of Bailey I always draw on the film ‘Blow-Up’ by Carlo Ponti, starring David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave and Sarah Miles. I’m sort of stuck there! So my favourites tend to be from the 60s and 70s, Jean Shrimpton, Penelope Tree, Rolling Stones, Beatles et al. Bailey’s work of course extends well beyond those decades and he has travelled to far flung places, without the five star comforts to create intimate and often disturbing portraits. See Blow-Up trailer

It is one of those exhibitions that seems never-ending, in this case it is a good thing, the work holds your interest and you are keen to go forward as each room reveals more and more.

The showcases in the final space are fascinating. For the curious it is irresistable. Personal notes, scribbles, LP covers, letters, school reports all sorts of emphemera.  My special favourite is a photograph of Bailey as a young man in the army based in Singapore. Seek out his special dispensation at meal times! I was surprised the army in the 50s countenanced it. He must have also been there about the same time as my Father, that's another story entirely.

Go see. The only downside is the shop, expensive, but as my wiser companion told me, ‘wait until the exhibition closes, then there will be a sale.’  I did however leave with a beautiful postcard of the divine Miss Shrimpton.

On until 1st June 2014.

Miss B & Miss C dined out at Les Deux Salons, 40-42 William Street, Covent Garden, London WC2N 4DD. An excellent lunch in a charming and sophisticated restaurant with the largest pots of tea I’ve seen recently. Good value.

Tower Bridge Exhibition – ‘The Sixties’ – showcase of Cultural Icons of the 1960s

Here I met up with Miss Shrimpton again (by Bailey of course)!

Jean Shrimpton
This picture does not appear in the exhibition.

I must confess I had never visited the most famous bridge in the world before so it was a very exciting moment and did not disappoint, all that iron and construction. 

The display of photographs can be found on the impressive West Walkway, 42m above the Thames with stunning views across London. The space is for hire.

 West Walkway

View from West Walkway towards St Pauls

Tower Bridge was designed and created by Sir Horace Jones and engineer Sir John Wolfe Barry, it took eight years to complete and was officially opened on 30 June 1894 by the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, the then Prince and Princess of Wales.

Peter Cook & Dudley Moore
(c) Brian Forbes - 'The Wrong Box'
‘The Sixties’ Exhibition was opened by the lovely Nanette Newman, famous actress and author, also wife of Brian Forbes whose work features in the display - a rare still of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore taken from the ‘The Wrong Box’. One of the Sixties generation herself this lady still looks wonderful.

Nanette Newman on the right with John Scott JP, Chairman of Culture, Heritage
 and Libraries Committee, City of London with wife Claire.

The exhibition is small but perfectly formed and David Wight, Visitor Development and Services Director, City of London Corporation, comments:“This enjoyable and entertaining new photographic exhibition offers a wonderful insight into this exciting decade. Whether you lived through the period yourself or weren’t yet born, this exhibition will definitely spark a lifelong fascination with the people and times of the ‘Swinging Sixties’.”  The added bonus is the captions are in French, German, Spanish and Italian.

David Wight - photograph 1971 and now
Special thanks to the Twitterati who turned out in force and Chantelle Scullion of Seasoned Events for organising the great cocktails and canapes, including Babycham and prawn cocktails. Also Aneela Rose and Francesca Collin from Aneela Rose PR who continue to do great work for the City of London.

Twiggy and lady with lovely bob

Mary Quant

Sara Pink -  Head of Guildhall & City Business, City of London
and MissB 

Back to the National Portrait Gallery but not to central London.
Hampstead’s Village People: Portraits of Cultural Icons - Fenton House, Hampstead Grove, London NW3 6SP (National Trust)

Kenton House
An exhibition in partnership with the NPG and the NT celebrating famous Hampstead residents at Fenton House,  the heart of the area's cultural life since 1686. Hampstead seems to have always drawn the creative folk, amongst the most famous, John Constable, George Romney and the poet Keats. Even today it is favoured by the likes of Michael Hopkins (architect) and Helena Bonham Carter (actor) and many more. So as it ever was and is likely to remain, the exhibition of black and white photographs is testament to that.

The photographs are drawn from vintage prints as well as contemporary photographers and look and feel right in the large drawing room of Fenton House. 

A punched and sheared
curtain detail

The house itself is described as ‘a cabinet of curiosities’   with something for everyone. Elegant interiors, ceramics, paintings, textiles and furniture plus an extraordinary collection of musical instruments. Also do take time to look out of the windows on the top floors, the views are stunning.  Please look out for the George F Watts painting on the stairwell, and do not get confused, as I did (a senior moment), with William Nicholson’s work and Ben Nicholson (who appears in one of his father’s works). I thought Ben looked good for his age in his exhibition photograph!

From a room with a view - topiary delight!

If the house itself was not enough, the icing on the cake are the beautiful grounds, which include a 300 year old orchard, kitchen garden, formal terraces and lawns, and topiary – delightful. A haven of peace and tranquillity.  It must be said though it is a great place for children to enjoy whilst minders take it in turns to visit the house. Take a picnic!

The ancient orchard with spring planting below

Idyllic - English country garden

MissB also guides at 2 Willow Road, Hampstead, NW3 1TH – a 1930’s house designed by Erno Goldfinger.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Arts & Crafts Delight - 7 Hammersmith Terrace, London W6 9TS

21st March 2014

Part I


7 Hammersmith Terrace a tall Georgian building on the River Thames from 1903-1933 it was the home of Sir Emery Walker, printer and collector, and great friend of William Morris.

The house is furnished with carpets, wallpapers and furniture from Morris & Co. it survives complete with personal mementoes, and is possibly the only intact Morris & Co interior of its kind in Britain.  It has only recently been opened to the public because it remained a private home until 1999.

It was Emery Walker who encouraged and assisted William Morris with the setup of the Kelmscott Press.

The house is also full of artefacts of the pre Raphaelites era and beyond.  Emry Walker went on to create his own printing company, the Doves Press with T J Cobden-Sanderson. The dove watermark was drawn by Cobden-Sanderson and Walker created a special type, later destroyed. A sad and interesting tale which will be revealed when you visit No. 7.


These include:
·         Furniture and glass by Philip Webb (architect of the Red House) and partner in Morris & Co.
·         Hangings and other textiles by William Morris
·         Textiles by his daughter May Morris, who lived a 8 Hammersmith Terrace
·         Ceramics by William de Morgan (also created the first tiles for the G F Watts memorial in Postman’s Park)
·         Cotswold furniture by Ernest Gimsom and Ernest Barnsley
·         A Burne-Jones pencil portrait of May Morris

Photograph of May Morris

The house also includes objects collected by the occupants during their travels around Europe and the Middle East.

Tours are available but restricted in size and you have limited access within the rooms. The talk at the beginning was overlong during our visit, so beware if you are not good at standing for long periods. However it is well presented and very interesting. You also get a visit of the beautiful garden, where you can have a quick sit down.

Back garden at No. 7

The house is run by the Emery Walker Trust and is a registered charity.

Tours last approximately one hour. Three tours on Saturdays and you need to book via the web site.
Pre-booked group visits on other days.
There are lovely souveniers to purchase but cash only, be prepared.

We went on to visit Kelmscott House which is a short walk away along the river. See Part II of this blog.

Rear of No 7

May Morris lived next door at No. 8

View of River towards Richmond

View of River towards Hammersmith Bridge

Kelmscott House, 26 Upper Mall, Hammersmith, London W6 9TA

March 2014 - Arts & Crafts Visit Part II

The grade II* listed building stands at the eastern end of Upper Mall on the north bank of the river Thames.  A fine example of Georgian architecture and dates from the late 1780s.

The house has been home to several notables:
·         Colonel Ralph Winwood  - the first occupant from 1790. Thereafter James Smith then,
·         Sir Francis Ronalds c1816
-          Constructed the first electric telegraph – above and underground. The latter entailing 525 feet of trench – insulated cable still being dug up as we speak. He has a memorial tablet on the Coach House.
·         George MacDonald 1867-1877 – The house known as ‘The Retreat’
-          A poet and a novelist. A large family of eleven children, to accommodate all had to rent a small adjoining house. MacDonald wrote two of his most famous books at Hammersmith, The Princess and the Goblin and At the Back of the North Wind.

William Morris - 1878-1896
The house was brought to the attention of William Morris by Dante Gabriel Rossetti who was house-hunting in the area. Rossetti did not like it but Morris found it to be ideal, but had to persuade Jane Morris, who wished to live nearer London. The carrot before the horse (excuse the pun), was to suggest the purchase of a pony-and-trap to ensure easy travel between Hammersmith and London. It worked! The house was renamed in order to link it with their home in Oxfordshire, Kelmscott Manor, interestingly, also situated close to the Thames, hence Morris thought a good idea to share the name.

After Morris’s death, Jane remained at the house until 1897 then moved back to Kelmscott Manor, taking most of the contents with her.  Some of the pieces were subsequently returned via bequest by May Morris.
There were several interesting inhabitants and you can catch up with them in the beautifully written A History of Kelmscott House by Helen Elletson (Curator).  It gives much detail about the owners and structural and interior changes over time. Plus the interesting groups they entertained over the years.

It is due to Mrs Marion Stephenson, one of the last residents, who remained in occupation of the house until her death in 1972. She bequeathed the house to the William Morris Society in 1970.

Sadly we cannot visit the rooms of the main house as these are occupied as private apartments, a means to preserve the property intact. However the Coach House and the basement have been converted into a delightful showplace which includes a printing press! Well worth a visit, also you can include the Emry Walker house in the same trip.

Open Thursday and Saturday 2.00-5.00pm, admission free.
Special Group Tours are encouraged and will include access to artefacts in the collection, with a fine speaker to talk you through the Morris’s time at Kelmscott House. Tel: 020 8741 3735

Recommend lunch at The Dove pub just across the way.

The back of Kelmscott House from the Coach House Garden

Rear of Coach House, back gate.