Some are well remembered, some are not

Another Saturday and another afternoon with my Lady Architects; we were visiting the former West London residence and studio of sculptor Kenneth Armitage (1916-2002).

Now held in trust by the Kenneth Armitage Foundation, occupancy of the house and studio is offered as a two-year residency to a selected sculptor, an act of generosity that bestows freedom to produce and exhibit a substantial body of work. We were shown around the building by the current resident David Murphy who spoke of receiving a mystery unsolicited phone call from the proverbial dark informing him he’d been selected for the fellowship. What an amazing phone call that must have been.

Purpose built as an artist’s house, the building was subsequently split vertically through the middle leaving a slightly eccentric tall narrow house connected by a winding stair with distinctly nautical vibes.

The current house and studio represent an even slice of the original building
Narrow winding stair
This trim circulation enhances the expansive feel of the living space at first floor level with its high ceiling and mezzanine study, and huge studio at ground level. Both these main spaces are characterised by those large north light windows so typical of Victorian purpose built studios.

View of the mezzanine in the living space

View from the mezzanine

I was taken by David's suggestion that the building relates an idea about falling out of history. At one time, Armitage had been a lauded British sculptor, a renowned contemporary of Henry Moore. I had, admittedly never heard of him, though it seems he is in general less well known than his fellow Leeds College of Art contemporaries and despite winning best international sculpture at the Venice Biennale in 1958, somehow his name has slipped out of time.

Armitage in his studio
The studio now
A theme it seems, the building itself was designed by Art and Crafts pioneer James MacLaren, at one time a great influence on Charles Rennie Mackintosh but it seems the student outshone the master in the end - while Mackintosh’s eminent name is synonymous with a whole school (the burning of that school designed by him in 2014 a national tragedy) just one book of MacLaren’s work is in circulation.

The whims of time I suppose, well, I enjoyed learning about both.


Revisionist Margin

I was so happy for my teaching colleague E to wise me up to Errata Editions – publisher of out of print photography books – an amazing resource for our students, and for me.
Of the examples shared, I kept returning to Keld Helmer-Petersen’s ‘122 Colour Photographs’, a bold collection of bright and banal. Content aside, the layout is striking jumping as it does in size and position across the double spread in a manner I couldn’t have imagined I'd countenance as a slightly fascistic formatter. But it works.

Keld Helmer-Petersen’s ‘122 Colour Photographs’ 136 p, 9.5 x 7.5'', 75 Colour illustrations

Layouts from six spreads
Maybe I’ll learn to relax my rigid margins a little.