Monday, 22 September 2014

Own work - wrapping paper

Something I created last week to wrap a little something for the bf.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Own work - Life drawing

I have returned this week to life drawing after a number of years absent from that discipline. The first session was yesterday.  I had forgotten was an intense thing it could be.  Here are my awful efforts.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Own work

Day three's work.  I spent about an hour before the subject before continuing to work on it back home.  Still not happy with it.  I may leave it a couple of days before resuming work.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Own work

Day two of my mixed media piece depicting the porch at the Red Hall, Bourne.  Not quite sure how its going....

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Own work

I thought I'd share with you, dear reader a couple of things: one I've just finished on Monday and another one I started yesterday afternoon.  The former is another in my sequence taken from Serlio's 'Extraordinario Libro di Architettura', the second is mixed media drawing of the porch at the Red Hall in Bourne.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Usher Gallery, Lincoln

To Lincoln yesterday on a rattletrap bus. A lovely late summer's day.  I thougth I'd share these pictures of the Usher Gallery, Lincoln and Lincolnshire's most important gallery.  I think you could say that it holds the county's collection of art.  There's a good collection of applied arts: porcelain, clocks and watches.  It holds one important Piper oil, an atmospheric watercolour by Andrew Wyeth and some lovely work by Clausen - his small oil of an orchard is particularly fine.  I surprised I should like that sort of thing - I usually find much of British Post-Impressionism sentimental. There is also a really good collection of Peter De Wints (1784 - 1849) and other 18th & 19th century watercolourists connected with county.
The building was erected in 1924, a design of Sir Reginald Blomfield.  One of his better buildings, I think - I'm not great fan of his work - it is compact and well detailed, influenced by English Baroque and early French Neo-classicism.  From Arts and Crafts beginning Blomfield went on to design in the Grand Manner on a large scale, of which the Usher Gallery is a well-mannered example.  (I do love Victorian and Edwardian architecture, but I often the overblown scale of some it, for instance in the work of Sir Richard Norman Shaw, really off-putting.  It's just too overpowering.)  Blomfield in his later career produced some really monstrous buildings like the Qudrant, Regent St (albeit he did have to incorporate the rear facade of Shaw's elephantine Piccadilly Hotel) and the Headrow Leeds.  And there are his proposals for Carlton House Terrace overlooking the Mall, in London.  Thankfully the Nash Terraces survive...
The odd thing is that architects like Blomfield, a Classicist, could be such a vandal, while early-Modernists like J M Richards such committed conservationists.  Another blot on Blomfield's copy-book is his partial responsibility for the (British) electricity pylon!  (Look closely at one; it's actually an obelisk...)
That said The Usher Gallery is a rather fine building. And he didn't like English Neo-Palladianism.  So he got some things right.


I forgot to mention that Blomfield was a prolific writer on architecture, producing a number of histories on English and French architecture.  He is perhaps, however, best remembered for his seminal book 'The Formal Garden' with its ravishing pen and ink illustrations by Francis Inigo Thomas.  I like them almost as much as I like the work of FL Griggs.  Thomas was no mean garden designer himself; he was designer of the exquisite Arts and Crafts gardens at Athelhampton.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Alvilde Lees-Milne & Rosemary Verey

As readers of the this blog will know I have an interest in the twentieth century diarist, novelist and art historian James Lees Milne.  Reading the Bloch biography I was struck by the formidable character of his wife Alvilde.  Like her husband she was bisexual, indeed not too long after their marriage Alvilde embarked on a tempestous relationship with Vita Sackville West.  What interested me, and let's be frank gave me a bit hope, was her late flowering career as both an author and garden designer.  In her seventies she collaborated with another renown gardener, Rosemary Verey, (her husband David wrote a number of the Shell County Guides) on producing two books:  'The Englishwoman's Garden' and 'The Englishman's Garden'.  Not only that but she found herself designing a garden for Mick Jagger of all people.  Browsing through a well-known internet auction site I came across both books.  Although the quality of the photographs inside as printed is not up to today's standards both books to offer an insight into post-war English garden design.  The structure is the same in both books:  there is a forward by a well-known gardener, followed by an introductory essay by Alvilde and Rosemary and then a collection of illustrated essays each on a particular garden written by the owner herself/himself.  It works well, giving a real insight into the long process of creating a good garden.
The cover of the English woman's garden, which shows part of Rosemary Verey's Cotswold garden was alone worth the cost of the book.  The laburnum walk looks magnificent, and I love the contrast between the yellow flowers of that and the purple globes of the aliums beneath, which seem quite happy in the partial shade, which I didn't expect. A bit disappointing, though, that all the gardens illustrated show a propensity to nasty concrete paving, but that was the times!

The men featured tend to be more famous - Beverley Nichols, Sir Frederick Ashton, Nicholas Ridley, for instance - than the women gardeners, though emphasis is rightly placed upon the important role women played in the creation of the English Garden.  As James Lees Milne biographer points out of the gardeners included in these books half the women were aristocrats and half the men gay!

The collaboration between Alvilde and Rosemary was not to last, but Alvilde working with her photographer Derry Moore went on to produce a number of books on both interior design and garden design, such as 'The Englishman's room' I have written about before in connection with the architectural historian and campaigner Gavin Stamp.