First View of Chicago from the Chicago Skyway is always exciting
At the end of last year I found, tucked inside the winter issue of the Art Fund magazine, a flyer advertising a number of short breaks organised by the company Travel Editions with whom I’d previously spent a 3 night break in 2014 : Art Nouveau and Art Deco in Lille and Antwerp. The trip that particularly caught my eye was “Surrey Arts and Crafts”.
Never having visited Glasgow before, I was delighted when Ann suggested a weekend visit to the city. Gosh! Mackintosh! His work is everywhere. I was familiar with his flower paintings created during his time in Walberswick in Suffolk. Last year I read Esther Freud’s ‘Me and Mr Mac’ a fictionalised story of his time there.
Back in the summer of 2015 on my drive down to Cornwall I was faced with a dilemma. Whether to visit the LAND sculpture created by Antony Gormley as part of the 50th birthday celebrations of the Landmark Trust and installed alongside the Stratford upon Avon Canal outside the Landmark property Lengthsman’s Cottage. Or whether to call in at Compton Verney House to view the exhibition “The Arts and Crafts House; then and now”. In the end the Landmark won the day.
Then earlier in January, I don’t remember how I came across it, I found that the Laing Gallery in Newcastle was showing the same exhibition until the 31st of the month. I knew I would get to see it and who I hoped would come with me. Continue reading
After Cornwall and Port Eliot Festival I returned home briefly on 28 July, made excursions to Manchester, Jervaulx and Scarborough and on 12 August set off on a Swiss adventure with a foray into Italy only returning last Thursday 21 August.
Here are links to a couple of my posts over at Lynne’s blog Dovegreyreader
Not my post but here is my entry for the Port Eliot Flower and Fodder Show Tea Cosy Competition:
On 11 August I re-opened My Swiss Diary briefly and a further Swiss Post will follow here shortly. Meanwhile I can show you a few photos of the places visited in Italy :
The View from the house at Luino (Lake Maggiore)
The Ecological Swimming Pool
Il campanile (1585-1774) Varese
Art Nouveau in Varese
Art Nouveau Varese
Arriving in Canobbio on Lake Maggiore for the Sunday Market
How can you tell you’re on a summer day trip to the Lake District? Yes, it teems with rain all day long. Still, we were not deterred as we waited for our coach to pick us up at Bramhope Church bus stop. We hoped the rain would cease but unfortunately it didn’t. Never mind our main aims were not to climb the peaks nor to stride out across the fells but to make indoor visits to The Armitt Library in Ambleside in the morning and to Blackwell near Bowness in the afternoon.
How true! How true!
“The Armitt Library was founded by the will of Mary Louise Armitt and the wishes of her two sisters, “to create a collection of books of scientific, literary and antiquarian value” for the “student and book-lover”, and eventually a small museum. It was opened in 1912, and embodied the old 1828 Ambleside Book Society, of which William Wordsworth had been a member, and the Ambleside Ruskin Library, founded by Hardiwcke Rawnsley in 1882 with the active support of John Ruskin. The Library is now in a purpose-built home just north of Ambleside on the Rydal Road.
In 1934 Beatrix Potter gave many of her watercolours and drawings of fungi, mosses and fossils to the Armitt Library some of which are on display. She had become a member on her marriage to William Heelis in 1913 who was the Library’s solictor since 1912.”
Admiring Potter’s drawings and watercolours
The Armitt Museum houses so much more than just the original core book collection. Alongside the story of Beatrix Potter and the Lake District is a large collection of her exquisite drawings, the library of The Fell and Rock Climbing Club and a gallery devoted to the work of German artist Kurt Schwitters.
Portrait of Edith Thomas by Kurt Schwitters
“Born in Hanover in 1887, he studied art at Dresden, but it was not until the Dada movement of 1916 that he finally liberated himself from conventional art. Schwitters took from Dada the freedom to use what materials he wanted to in his pictorial compositions … In 1937 for a variety of compelling reasons Schwitters left Hanover for Norway, never to return to his home again. The Norwegian experience was mixed … and in 1940 Schwitters and his son fled to Britain where they were both interned on the Isle of Man. Afterwards Schwitters lived in London until the end of the war in 1945, when he moved to Ambleside where he remained until his death in poverty and obscurity in 1948. Schwitters never received the recognition in Britain he had enjoyed in Europe, and his art did not sell. However, in 1947 he was fortunate enough to start his third Merzbau in a barn in Elterwater. Regrettably only a fragment was completed before his death, and this small monument to his genius can now be seen in the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle.” [Armitt Museum website]
Books on an Alpine theme
After lunch in Windermere we continued to Blackwell the Arts and Crafts House overlooking Lake Windermere. This was my second visit to the house, my first being in 2002 which was not long after the house was opened to the public.
“When the architect Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott (1865 – 1945) built a holiday home overlooking Windermere for his client Sir Edward Holt, a brewer from Manchester, he created Blackwell, a masterpiece of twentieth-century design; a perfect example of the Arts & Crafts Movement.
Enjoy a lovingly crafted day out at one of the most enchanting historic houses in the Lake District. When you visit you are invited to relax and immerse yourself in all the beauty and craftsmanship of Blackwell. We encourage you to sit and soak up the atmosphere in Blackwell’s fireplace inglenooks, which have fine examples of tiles by Arts & Crafts designer William de Morgan. The inviting window seats offer stunning views of the surrounding Lake District scenery. You can appreciate the house as it was originally intended, without roped-off areas.
Stained glass window
Another stained glass window
Blackwell retains many of its original decorative features, including a rare hessian wall-hanging in the Dining Room, leaf-shaped door handles, curious window catches, spectacular plasterwork, stained glass and carved wooden panelling by Simpsons of Kendal. The rooms contain furniture and objects by many of the leading Arts & Crafts designers and studios – metalwork by WAS Benson, ceramics by Pilkingtons and Ruskin Pottery and furniture by Morris & Co., Stanley Webb Davies, Ernest Gimson and Baillie Scott himself.”
Another Fireplace (My Favourite)
For more and better pictures of Blackwell see here a fellow Blog Poster’s visit to the House earlier this year.
Farewell to Armitt, Blackwell and Windermere, but not, alas, to rain … it followed us home.
Polymath Transforms Georgian England!
William Kent (1685 – 17480) [source]
What a man! William Kent was hugely influential within Georgian English aristocratic circles. His designs spanned the widest spectrum of English upper class design from art to architecture and from furniture to gardens. Kent’s patrons included Lord and Lady Burlington, the Cokes of Leicester, the Walpoles of Houghton. Influenced by his early visits to Italy it’s surprising that William Kent is not far better known. This exhibition at the V&A tells his story with rich illustrations and varied artefacts. Go yourself and ponder why William Kent is not more familiar to us today.
I wrote that little appreciation/review for the ticket agent that supplied our tickets for the show last Friday afternoon.
The Georgians are big business as 2014 marks 300 years since the accession of George I thus beginning a succession of Hanoverian Kings of England which lasted until 1830.
The season started well with the British Library’s overview The Georgians Revealed that covered many aspects of life in 18th and early 19th century Britain. There are significant exhibitions at The Queen’s Gallery : The First Georgians: Art & Monarchy 1714-1760 and at The Historic Royal Palaces (Kensington Palace; Kew Palace and Hampton Court Palace) : The Glorious Georges. And BBC television is currently broadcasting a month-long Georgian season.
Slideshow of William Kent Paintings
William Kent was born in Bridlington, North Yorkshire, the son of a carpenter. From 1709 to 1719 he studied in Rome, copying Old Master paintings and learning the techniques of etching and engraving. Here in Italy he was to meet Lord Burlington who, with his wife, became patron and good friend to Kent. Burlington gave him his first commissions back in England and helped to set Kent off on his course designing for many of the great English landowners.
A Kent-designed chair from Holkham Hall
Kent designed the interiors of many stately homes including Houghton Hall, home of the Walpoles, in Norfolk.
Exterior of Houghton Hall, Norfolk
Stowe Landscape Garden with Gothic Temple and Palladian Bridge
Most of all Kent is best-known to me as the designer of landscape gardens.
Kent’s landscape designs confirm his status as the artistic genius of the era, a father of the English landscape garden. In contrast with the French and Dutch fashions for formal gardens, Kent took his inspiration from the ideal landscapes of pastoral literature and painting. His design drawings are not detailed plans, but poetic evocations of the landscape effects he was attempting to achieve.
Kent’s gardens could be places of activity and good fellowship, or places of reflection and solitude. Carefully crafted vistas lead the eye out beyond the garden into the surrounding countryside. He designed over fifty garden buildings which were positioned to act as picturesque focal points for views and also as places from which to contemplate the garden. His buildings vary from sober copies of ancient buildings to wild flights of fancy, from pyramids, triumphal arches and Chinese kiosks to grottoes and artificial ruins.” [V&A website]