Thursday, October 18, 2018

Dedicated to books and reading

My grand sorting really has led to a great project which has gripped me.  I am not devoting every minute to it, but somewhere in the back of my mind thoughts are churning away.
I wrote a post about the initial idea last month, and since then my interest has deepened, and I have realised just how personally relevant the project is.  My career was in publishing, and specifically in children's non fiction and in educational publishing.  From 1977 - 81 I was a commissioning editor in London for Blackie, whose gazetteer I am now canibalising.  That gazetteer came from my Scottish grandparents' house - and Blackie was a Scottish publishing house. (It was one of the Blackie family who commissioned Charles Rennie Mackintosh to design Hill House.)
I also had a passion for encyclopedias and gazetteers when I was a child.  For Christmas 1953 I was given the complete Arthur Mee's Encyclopedia, and I have had a thirst for reading for information ever since.
So, all in all, I can see that this project will occupy quite a bit of my thinking and designing for a while.

Friday, October 12, 2018

There are some buildings

... to which I become attached at first sight.  Two in Oxford of which I never tired are the Natural History Museum (above) - which is also stunning beautiful inside, and houses the extraordinary Pitt-Rivers Museum, so ticks many boxes - and Keble College (below).
(image from here)
Today in Glasgow we visited another such: the former Templeton Carpet Factory.  It is a bizarre but delightful conceit of an edifice, and thoroughly dispelled any notions of feeling miserable because of the heavy rain (obviously the photo below was not taken on such a day).
These three are decidedly of the decorated school, and are not what I typically go for in a building, generally preferring clean lines.  But these are just so boldly sure of themselves, and have their own elegance I think.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

This is what I call luxury!

Some people crave a roll top bath in the bedroom, but we are enjoying the delight of watching the early morning light change from moment to moment with this view from the bed in the self-catering home we are renting this week.
The big window has a wide sweep over the valley of the Water of Fleet just north of Gatehouse of Fleet.  The garden falls away precipitately to reveal the glorious west-facing view.
Even on a misty drizzly morning it is fascinating.  Thank goodness for the horrid hard bedhead, otherwise it would be too tempting to linger!

Monday, October 08, 2018

Away from the madding crowd

Even when crowded, the occupants of a cemetery enhance one's enjoyment of solitude.  The startling blue in the background is the Water of Ken in Galloway reflecting glorious sky.
This cemetery also boasts a spectacular avenue of limes, and a rowan bower (one side red berried, and t'other yellow) over a well-placed bench.
It is lovely to be far from the bustling metropolis in Autumn.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Instructional and inspiring exhibition

(image from here)
On Sunday we went to see the Renzo Piano retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. (reviews here and here)  It was an opportunity also to see the newly joined buildings, the Piano exhibition is what I still think of as the Museum of Mankind, although the ethnographic exhibits have long been housed in the British Museum.  The galleries that contain the Piano displays are wondrous indeed, helped even more by a clear sunny day.
We found it to be a remarkably pleasing, informative, curiosity arousing, and even inspiring exhibition.  Such beautiful display, thorough, beautiful, and totally uplifting.
(image from here with more photos and a review)
There were three projects where I concentrated most of my time.  One was the Emergency Children's Surgery Centre in Kampala, Uganda.  An element which caught my imagination was the information about the use of packed earth blocks - not only the information, but the presentation of sample coloured blocks themselves.  An acrylic structure housed them in a way - as with all the displayed materials and samples - that made them aesthetic objects in their own right.
This is a Shutterstock photograph showing the displayed blocks.
Another project was the Menil Collection building - one of Renzo Piano's earliest buildings.  Elegance once more to the fore in the shape of the ventilation louvres.  Samples were hanging as part of the project display.
It is fascinating to read the client's brief, then to see the solution which lifts the heart.  As stated in this article, source of the image below, the elements of the solution, the parts which go to make a whole greater than them, somehow transmit a feeling of creative empowerment in the viewer.
I overwhelmingly was drawn to the project the display of which I just wanted to bring home: the Tjibaou Cultural Centre Noumea, New Caledonia.
(image above from here, with an article about the 'Piano Method')
(image above from here)
What struck me most about all the projects was the attention to situation, and the striving for the most elegant practical solution to each individual need.  This is an exhibition which will return to in my mind again and again, I'm sure.

We went through to the original RA building, passing this delightful courtyard between the two.  
Outside in the courtyard stands Cornelia Parker's PsychoBarn.  I was lucky enough to see a film of her visiting old barns in the USA in order to make this piece for the Metropolitan Museum Roof Garden, New York.  A fusion of two iconic images of buildings in the USA, I love the detailing - such as the roof 'slates' being carefully cut corrugated metal.  I find that Cornelia Parker's art is always taking me by surprise.
All in all it was a brilliant day of thinking about buildings.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

An author for the favourites list

Katie Jean Wood: Story Hour (image from here)
It is so frustrating that while it takes but a few days - or sometimes hours to read a book, it takes an author a year or several to produce the next one.  That is why it is always good to have a list of favourites to whom to turn for the next good read.
I became aware of Joanna Cannon first by being attracted to her title The Trouble with Goats and SheepThe review in the Guardian newspaper pushed me to acquiring it, and was delighted as a result.  Here is an explanation from Joanna Cannon herself of how the story came about.
I very much enjoyed the effortless way I as a reader was taken there to become part of that community, a child, an adult, turn about, understanding with humour and also pursuing the mystery.
So I was delighted to read the review of Three Things About Elsie.  And again I very much enjoyed reading the book.  Two friends since childhood once more, but now set in a care home at the end of life.  Another mystery, and once more we are swept into the lives of the community with humour and understanding - and with a real curiosity to solve the mystery.
Imitator of David Teniers the Younger: An Old Woman Reading (image from here)
Now I shall just have to fill in the gap until Joanna Cannon's next book is published.   No problem there - indeed, how lucky that there are so many good books to be read.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Great quote

Said by the film maker Agnès Varda, but relevant for all art: “Art should ring a bell in your own life. You should get involved. I don’t want people to say it’s great, I want people to say: ‘It is for me.’”  Both quote and photo above from here.