Did the first walk and talk on Saturday for mind into matter. First thing to say is that I’m now really into architecture and doing the research for the exhibition has opened my eyes to what is around us – everywhere! There are buildings EVERYWHERE I’ve just not really noticed them before and they’re amazingly interesting things to think about. I mean just look at those mock tudor fascias on the semis at the end of Hangleton Drive in Hove that I see every day on the bus home. What is that all about?
I introduced the tour by talking about how difficult I found it to think about architecture as a subject even though I acknowledge that we are surrounded by buildings and that for me my first experience of the exhibition was about finding a way in, literally, a door. The other question I kicked off with is something that I find particularly interesting to consider, which is: how can we visualise a building we don’t know by seeing photos and blueprints of it? What do we do as we look at the exhibits and try to put together the building in three dimensions in our mind. Again, what are the ways into experiencing an imagined building?
Talking our way through the exhibition I really noticed subtle aspects of its clever curation e.g. that you enter straight into the display of the most contemporary building, the British Embassy in Warsaw, and then pass through that to the Reform Club. People noticed how the architect’s drawings have changed over the years so that there are those really fluid and sketchy drawings by Tony Fretton compared with say, the beautiful drawing of the artichoke plant at Cloud’s House. That is not to say that Fretton’s drawings aren’t beautiful, just less elaborate, I guess.
Loved the way the exhibition opens up when you get to the Pavilion exhibit so that you look, in effect, straight through a glass display case to the bandstand and the sea beyond, becoming aware of the building through its near transparency.
There was lots and lots to say. I particularly loved the story of the stonemason O’Shea brothers who carved their own animal and flower decorations into the capitals in Oxford Museum. That there is a picture of James O’Shea and that he has gone down in history for doing his own thing is, I think, a miracle of history honouring the creative courage of an individual.
My group enjoyed entering their own histories into the book of dates on the resource table and Wendy, one of the gallery invigilators pointed out how alarming it looks if you stand by the date of the year of your birth and look down the timeline up to the present day. To see one’s age laid out like that in feet and inches makes you think. Buildings, birth, death, permanence and transience. It’s not just bricks and mortar and blueprints, is it!
And thanks for Judith for coming along and lending your lively participation to the event.