Thursday, 21 November 2013

Currently reading....'Anti Ugly'

'Anti Ugly' is a collection of short essays - articles, really - written for 'Apollo' magazine by the architectural historian Gavin Stamp.  I first became aware of Gavin Stamp in the early Eighties via colour-supplement article on the 'Englishman's Room' - a selection of pieces from a book of the same name written by Alvilde Lees Milne, photographs by Derry Moore.  I regret that he (along with Brian Sewell and Vivienne Westwood) didn't lecture at 'The Prince of Wales's Institute of Architecture' at least while I was there.  He's also a good artist, producing pen and ink drawings with an Edwardian feel, which can't be bad.
The title, (also the title of one of the essays), refers to a student led campaign in the sixties which ostensibly was concerned with quality of contemporary architecture but in fact only demonstrated outside modern Classical and traditional buildings.  This article and others importantly remind us of the damage to the built environment wrought by that almost manic love of the New, that love of Modernism and Modernity that seems (almost) to have saturated British life in the Post War years - what Christopher Brooker called Neophilia.  The loses were great, the scars still born by our cities, and disproportionally by the communities those interventions were often designed to help.  It's hard to disagree with his opinions; he is rightly critical about the recent surfeit of monuments particularly in London, which are mostly of poor quality - he doesn't mention it but RAF monument in the National Arboretum is a real shocker. (It really is appalling.) He is also right to applaud the recent redevelopments of St Pancras and King's Cross stations in London.

Gavin Stamp's bright, cheerful yellow drawing room features in the latest post on the blog Bible of British Taste.  Here's a link

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