Friday, 30 June 2017

Liverpool's World Heritage Site Status-In Ruins.

UNESCO have now decided that the city of Liverpool does not understand the concept of looking after its best asset, it's World Heritage Site. They meet this week to discuss whether Liverpool should be removed from the World Heritage list.
They have asked repeatedly that Liverpool provide them with provisions of how to manage its world heritage site.
No such undertakings have been received.
The United Nations cultural arm have expected a city that has a world heritage site would have people in place who would understand its cultural significance in terms of world importance and they would protect it against planning blight, and we get Joe Anderson, before him Mike Storey and in between the both of them Warren Bradley.
Unesco World Heritage Committee meet in Krakow high on the agenda is Liverpool.



In view of the above analysis, it is recommended that the Committee expresses its deep concern that the projects already approved as well as those approved in outline have actual and potential highly adverse and irreversible impacts on the OUV of the property. 
Therefore, it is also recommended that the Committee retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger but consider its deletion from the World Heritage List at its 42nd session in 2018, if the State Party does not reverse course and stop the granting of planning permissions which have a negative impact on the OUV of the property, provide substantive commitments to limitation on the quantity, location and size of allowable built form, link the strategic city development vision to a regulatory planning document, and lastly provide a DSOCR and corrective measures that could be considered for adoption by the Committee.


Read it yourself here.


I have been forced to watch as my cherished views have been destroyed by these consecutive city council leaders who seem blind to seeing what I used to be able to see, my history, my culture.
  Both pictures here are of the same view before and after note the cupola of the Port of Liverpool Building...now obscured.
For over ten years now I have been campaigning vigorously to stop the continual erosion of the majesty that once was Liverpool.
They have taken away my pride.
They have stolen it from me.
I have fought hard, really I have fought hard but the power that these people possess has surprised even me.
Civic vandalism is too tame a description of the sheer destruction of the soul of the city that in places has been stripped bare of all historic meaning.
Capital of Culture became Culture of Capital.
It was easy to pull the wool over the eyes of a lazy electorate.
Yes strong words but true.
Shame on all those who could see what was happening, but did nothing, often as with the guardians of our museums they had the brains........but were in on it. They destroyed Manchester Dock which pre-dated The Albert Dock by 60 years......to build a new museum.
The directors and curators busy making their names and furthering their own careers.
Yes you at Liverpool Museums you know who you are.
There were others who also had opinions. 
See Ptolemy Dean video describing on a programme entitled Britain's Vanishing Views.
I don't claim easily that the brain drain that happened in Liverpool in the 1960's has left us with a foolish breed of poorly educated architects without morals. But its true.
So what of these architects of disaster who sold themselves short for wages. Sold, well our soul really.
And of English Heritage whose ill conceived Chairmen such as Sir Neil Cossons and consecutive Chief Executives have to share most of the blame, allowing their operatives to be in on the deals.
I met with two Unesco reactive monitoring missions and asked Ron Van Oers of Unesco face to face, “Why did you allow them to destroy the Pier Head”
“With English Heritage supporting the developments there was nothing we could do”, was his reply.
Now we can't expect people from The United Nations to save a city from itself or understand the way Liverpool's forever corrupted regimes work the planning system.
Its really not their fault the blame lies elsewhere. 
You cant blame the barometer for the weather.
There are third world country World Heritage Sites to look after, surely they can't believe that a country such as the UK, as member of the G7 would behave like the Taliban in destroying its own heritage sites. 
Though instead of blowing them up with TNT they destroy them with planning blight.
Some historic buildings, listed, now look alien in their own environment because of what was allowed to be built around them.
Liverpool was placed on the Unesco 'World Heritage In Danger' List at the same World Heritage Committee meeting that saw Aleppo and the Palmyra Temple added, that was subsequently blown up by ISIS.
I feel like I have wasted so much time now, but for years I have been fighting for Liverpool's historic buildings, fighting against the odds, with planners, turning up to argue at planning committee meetings in my own time, those committees that had carefully politically placed members who had already taken the decision to pass the very plans that have now done the damage, thus denying me and other objectors, a democracy of fairness.
It's as if those with the power are walking round with welders goggles on, oblivious to the beauty that the forebears had left us, unable to see. Or are taking liberties for their own gain, they have just let it happen.
Frustration has become a way of life for me.
But now, Liverpool having been on the Unesco register for quite some time, it appears that we are at the last chance saloon, before we as a city, lose the title of World Heritage Site.
How can so many be let down by so few.

Monday, 15 May 2017

E.W Godwin. The Forgotten Giant of Design.

Edward William Godwin (1833-1886) Architect, designer, interior decorator, theatrical producer, antiquary, writer, reformer and critic. That’s a bit of a list
Today he has been relatively forgotten. 
But he remains an important figure in nineteenth century modernism.
“One of the most artistic spirits of this century” said Oscar Wilde describing Edward William Godwin. 
Wilde employed Godwin to design the interior of his house.

Godwin exhibited furniture in some of the great international exhibitions of the nineteenth century including Vienna in 1873, Philadelphia 1876 and Paris 1878 after which he received commissions as far a field as Connecticut and Vienna.


He worked for some of the leading furniture manufacturers. Collin son and Lock, William Watt and Gillows amongst others.
Some of his completed work are now thought of as, beacons of design.
The Anglo-Japanese sideboard of 1867 was far ahead of its day.

The spindle legged coffee table that he designed for William Watt was one of the most copied designs in the 1870's and 1880's.

I first came across Godwin's work in The Sudley Art Gallery. (Before the current director ruined it). His table almost looked strange..... Too many legs but that was the uniqueness of the piece. This table made by William Watt and illustrated in Watt's Art Furniture could be bought in Walnut for £7.7s. 0d or in ebonized wood for the higher price of £7.15s.0d. Brass shoes for added stability for an extra £1.10s.0d.



Art Furniture and Designs by E.W Godwin, F.S.A and Others, with Hints and Suggestions on Domestic Furniture and Decorations was published in 1887 and reprinted 1878. Allowing the public to ponder over his designs and influence on modern taste.





He designed wallpapers and floor coverings and fabrics often coming up with new ideas how to hang curtains and decorate walls.
He designed ceramics for W. Brownfield and Sons, Cobridge and tiles for Minton and Hollins.

He played a leading role in aesthetic taste in Britain pioneering the use of plain distempered walls with plain wood floors covered simply by Indian matting or perhaps an Oriental carpet.
He wrote some 450 articles for architectural and building journals along with other publications that saw his influence reign over a country ready for changing styles.

He did not rely on one style but combined historic styles such as Jacobean and Greek with the new taste for the East.
He encouraged others to do the same. 
He was eclectic in his choice of influence.
A.W.N Pugin in the 1840's had exclusively designed in Gothic.
Godwin used amongst others classical motifs. 
Attempting to fuse historicism with modernity at a time Britain saw itself as the Empire nation that imported a vocabulary on design that it felt, with a brash arrogance, could do better. 
The bringing together of the world into a British style.



Britain’s internationalism was also part of its superiority complex and the middle classes were rich enough to be able to aspire to the new found evocation of their need to be ahead of the rest and furnish their homes with all sorts of new exotic designs with inspiration from the world.
After the first Japanese delegation arrived in Britain in 1862 and Japanese goods were shown at the international exhibition Japanese creativity became the influence of a new dawn on British design.
Designers such as Godwin were thought of as innovators rather than cross-references of eastern art.
His modular furniture designs was far ahead of the mid 20th century happening. The coming together of the need for built in furniture and hygiene combined with simplicity.
Most people would not put the era of the 1860's and minimalism together.

He was the architect of Herbert McNeil's Whistlers house in Tite Street that he named The Whitehouse.
A paired down style at a time when ornamentation was king.
Though other styles came into play, Japan was his main inspiration which is hardly surprising whith the influx of artefacts from Japan that came to the attention of the west when the Japanese opened up their trade links, after a little bit of gunboat diplomacy.
The fashion for ebonised furniture and dark weighty heavy pieces saw him move into a simple style of designing that now seems way ahead of its time.
Minimalism with maximum effect.
This was a time of aesthetic movement, a new romantic of the 1870's where people could, as Oscar Wilde would, wander round town in velveteen, reciting poetry, smelling gardenias.
Where new movements such as the Pre-Raphealites would declare.... the end of art is the new beginning......




A modest provincial upbringing in Bristol. His father was a leather dresser who died young, but before he died he had Edward apprenticed to a sober architect by the name of William Armstrong.
William knew his calling was London and eventually his aspirations took him there.
His attentive mind saw him involved, or interested in all aspects of design.
He was a Theatre critic for a while. 
One thespian that did not like his review turned up at his house. Where Godwin was dressed as Henry V in fine hose and was subsequently chased with a horsewhip by the disgruntled actor.
He was influenced by the Italian Gothic revival led and held in such high regard by John Ruskin, who championed it.

Being an architect Godwin said, “You were the mother of all arts.” For that reason he wanted to design everything right down to the knives and forks that came out only for dinner.
Beauty above truth........... The aesthetic movements clarion call was a vocation meant to run through all aspects of ones life.
He belonged to a club without membership. This entertainment for the masses was portrayed in print in the publications of their day, for all to see.

He kept a journal and would write about pretty chambermaids at every inn he stayed while out studying medieval architecture in Cornwall.
He married 1850 to his first wife who was the daughter of an independent minister.
They enjoyed many interesting visits to historic buildings together.
He was living in Bristol when he went to the International Exhibition of 1862, the follow on of the great Exhibition. There he discovered the art of Japan and went on to decorate his house in the new taste with Japanese prints on the wall.

Ellen Terry was 14 when she visited Godwin then still living with his first wife.
He designed a dress for her. Later on she described how impressed she was with the house he had designed, and with him.
She at 16 married G.F.Watts but she became somewhat unhappy with a man 30 years older than her and she always had a fondness for Godwin, and he stole her, she eloped with him.
She was famous, a serious actress in the 1860's. The scandal ensued. They had two children out of wedlock.
 He was a philanderer and while living in Hertfordshire he would visit ladies in London. 
He was obstinate in his ideals and did not want to listen to his clients more often than not he would do things his way. The pair had a bit of a tough time financially but went to London to straighten out finances where his head was turned again. They split and it was not long before he met Beatrice an architectural student who he taught.

He and Whistler were forever involved this was a period of excitement and change. The 20th century was just around the corner.
His students were thankful for the time he spent with them helping them. 
But he was also known as a selfish person greedy to do lots of things.
A biography in the Spectator Review “The conscious stone” by Dudley Harberin around 1914 said. 

“Few people will be familiar with the name of Edward Godwin this proud and disappointed man was the victim of providence's most malevolent tease for he was endowed with a immeasurable fertility of mind and a contrasting lack of creative ability. But the plain truth is his artistic output was exiguous and unimportant and Godwin was a man of eccentric and violent prejudices that he never hesitated to express in the most uncompromising and dogmatic terms. He was moreover almost always in the right. Such people are of course disagreeable to live and work with, and his relations with his wives, colleagues and clients show him to be a little bit of a cad, and dare we say it crook.”

He was not a man of that time. 
He was a man of Gothic time of Victorian sturdy ornamentation. But the second half of the 20th century saw us looking back to the inspiration for modernism as well as modernism itself. We now know more about the man then we did then.
One of his complimentries said he was “ an architect who had no compeer in England and a designer on consummate skill”.
The later obituaries say that he was a man unfulfilled who didn’t achieve his full potential.
The Whistler Whitehouse and the Wilde Interior were great works indeed. 
They captured the spirit of an age. The vivid colours of the interiors and the white furniture, which now seems lost in the scourge time, were ahead of its day.
Did he inspire the Mackintosh Glasgow interiors?
He won many architectural competitions showing artistic vision.
He had a yearning for the middle ages and was obsessed with accuracy in costume design.
Truth before beauty was the benchmark for his historical costumes for the theatre. This was a reversal of the motto of the aesthetes. He also produced plays.
Along with Lady Archibald Campbell the great Grey Lady. The great aesthetic muse of the day. They decided to put on Shakespeare in Coombe Forest........... As You Like It.
The play was performed as if they were really living in the woods with forest men carrying deer over their shoulders. Godwin dressed as a monk in one play.
He had an ambition and wanted to be a Theatre producer and built a studio flat in Tite Street where he could entertain his ambition.

Godwin was often called The Wicked Earl.

He married Beatrice 1876 but he never built much after.
He was buried in 1886 in an unmarked grave in his early fifties after a kidney operation that went wrong.
His wooden casket was carried on a farm cart and it was said that Beatrice, Whistler and Lady Campbell ate a sandwich on top of the coffin.
An account said the widow was in a white fur lined coat and wild gypsy hair. The second in a yellow Ulster with turquoise tam-o-shanter and a third in a French grey sailor blouse and hat. Rustics shouldered the coffin.
Lady Archibald Campbell said that at this precise moment she saw the first flirtation between Whistler and Beatrice. They soon became husband and wife.
Godwin and Beatrice's son Teddy designed the angels around Whistlers grave.

For a long time he was forgotten.

Roger Fry wrote about Godwin’s style as “a horror genuine modern style as yet which has no name, a period of black polished furniture with spidery lines”.
Nicholas Pevsner’s first edition of Pioneers of the Modern Movement from William Morris to Walter Gropius had no mention of Godwin at all.
Though Maurice Adams described him as a genius, but considered his career a failure.
C.F.A Voysey admitted his work owed much to earlier architect-designers such as William Burgess, E.W Godwin A. H MacMurdo, Bodley and others.
1945 saw Dudley Harbron write a scholarly essay on Godwin for Architectural Review. 
He highlighted this five-page article with line drawings.
 Three years later Pevsner praised Godwin's wallpaper designs.
Harbron in 1949 published a small biography with many inaccuracies but the work saw a turning point in the understanding of the forgotten man. 
Letters between Oscar Wilde and Godwin were found and in 1952 the Victoria and Albert Museum highlighted Godwin’s influences in the first museum-based exhibition of his work.
The 1950's and 60's saw a steady appreciation of his place in the 19th century. 
In 1960 the third edition of Pevsners Modern Pioneers of Design sealed his placement on the steps of design.
The 1970's saw numerous exhibitions including one at the Royal academy named Victorian Decorative Art that showed the collection of Charles Handley-Read that included four pieces of Godwin Furniture.
1976 saw Bristol Museums staged a show of Marcel Breuer and Godwin furniture two designers with links to Bristol this accompanied a bequest of fourteen pieces of furniture from Godwin's daughter Edith Craig.
In 1978 William Watts Art Furnishers catalogue was reprinted.
The 1980's saw more Godwin pieces appearing on the market and being snapped up by institutions.
The over decorated Victorian period has been thought of as a period of design as ebonised as much of the furniture that was created, back then.



 Much of Godwin’s output was retailed though Liberty & Co to an avant-garde clientele that included Godwin’s close friends.
Godwin himself complained in the foreword to the 1877 William Watt trade catalogue Art Furniture that an ebonised side table, designed in 1867 and made by Watt in the late 1860s and 70s, had been regularly copied without authorisation.
These look-alikes find a ready market today, at around £100-150, the fraction of the price of a William Watt made Godwin original.
There is also a distinction to made between the designs Godwin produced - both earlier in his career and for more conservative clients - which are grounded in traditional Victorian design and the more desirable stark geometric forms for which he is most admired.

 There were many plagiarised copies of his tables.



But along with Christopher Dresser there seems to my mind a thorough examination must be taken of the enduring modernism of this Great Victorian.  

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Ernst Riegel Silver Box-Piece Of The Week.

 I love this beautiful silver box and cover.
 It is not hallmarked being continental, the same rigid hallmarking system was never adopted on the British scale. 
German silver is often marked 850 against our 925 standard.
When a friend brought it in I was impressed by the sculptural qualities of the minute female figure standing aloft on a silver plinth flanked by four cabochons with semi precious stones encased within. 
It is only small 14 cm high and the figure is a dainty 7cm.
The next thing I noticed is how the lid just fits so perfectly as if there isn't a join at all, the maker has put the join on the edge of the box so that it is almost a secret opening. Its been thought about alright. Years of skill encompassed in such a jewel like object.
It is hardly surprising to find out that the maker was a master gold and silver smith steeped in a sculptural tradition that allowed him to cast silver to perfection, loosely and playfully echoing the prevailing style. 
Art Nouveau. 
He did have to switch with the times when a more modernist approach was required. 



There are no fingers or facial expressions, for me, it has the qualities of a ten minute sketch by a master artist.
This is a small work by Ernst Riegel.



Ernst Riegel was born 12 September 1871 in Münnerstadt, Franks, and died 14 February 1939 in Cologne. He was a German goldsmith, sculptor and university professor.
From an early age he was impressed by the works of Tilman Riemenschneider and especially of the famous winged altar in the church he saw.
In 1890 he studied sculpture and the goldsmith's art for five years at The Royal School of Applied Arts in Munich , with amongst others, Fritz Miller.
He joined the Darmstadt artists' colony in 1908 and came third in the Hesse exhibition.
Riegel was a member of the Deutsche Werkbund.
He was commissioned to make the chain of the office of the Lord Mayor of Darmstadt and was commissioned in 1912 with the design of the Lutheran Church in Worms.
He brought Emil Thormählen to Cologne in 1913 who, he entrusted with the management of gold and silversmithing class.
In 1926 he was appointed professor at Cologne led by Richard Riemerschmid.
During The World War when the motto was "I gave gold for iron" it was difficult to work with precious metals. After the war there was subsequent period of massive inflation, it was almost impossible to work with precious metals during this period.
To allow the students a realistic and practical time-and labour on materials, he initiated the establishment of a business office at the factory schools run by a commercial director.
The aim, through his contacts made with industry, government agencies and private citizens was to obtain work orders and the studios and workshops on performance of the Cologne factory schools to make development and testing laboratories.
His plan worked: the precious metals department and the Department of Religious Art financed almost half the budget of the university.
The city of Cologne could be called a factory school.
The Lord Mayor Konrad Adenauer awarded well-paid jobs that were, in 1929, laying the foundation stone of the new building of the University of Cologne.
Lindenthal, the headmaster had chains in gold and cups in silver manufactured by Ernst with his students.
Wealthy citizens of Cologne patronised the school - the Association of Friends of the Cologne factory schools - placed orders thus allowing for a qualified student education.
With the rise of the Nazis the work of the Cologne factory schools was defamed, and in 1933 a dozen artists and teachers were dismissed.
Among them was Ernst Riegel, "fired with immediate effect. His successor, was Charles Berthold.

See More by clicking the link below







Friday, 3 February 2017

Did Picasso Invent The Blues?

Carlos Casagemas, Picasso's friend who was impotent, killed himself on February 17th 1901.
The approximate year of the birth, in a shack, in New Orleans of Louis Armstrong.
Devastated by his death, Picasso painted several portraits of him while he lay dead on his bed, the life draining out of him.
 Pain found the brushstrokes.
He had turned blue, the cold setting in, showing the fragility of existence.
Picasso entered this blue period, literally making precedence to the term, the blues.
He had left Barcelona and Gaudi behind, to go to Paris.


Decades later after this blue painting period of Picasso, Josephine Baker and Sydney Bechet brought the afro-american music called Jazz with them. Was it called the blues then?
Where did the term, the blues first enter the modern vocabulary, and why?
Did Picasso discover that blue for cold. Was blue for death.
The ancient Greeks in mythology related blue to rain and the tears of the God Zeus, who would make rain when he was sad and he cried.
James Audubon the the 19th century author in 1827 wrote in his journal, that he “had the blues.”
Did Picasso know this and relate the colour to the cold flesh he saw, or was he relating it to a term to describe how he felt. Speculation has gone before me.
He was in a state of self deprivation, he had the blues.
Two years later he would cap it off and start again, with a painting called life.
His mourning was over. He no longer had the blues. His blue period was finished.
At 22 he moved into the 'laundry boat' named by his poet friend Max Jacob Le Bateau Lavior.
This was the time of Madeleine and the Medrano circus.
He met acrobats and he painted himself as Harlequin and by doing so, announcing he had finished mourning.
Fernande Olivier was his next love who walked in during a thunderstorm.
He then began to paint, in competition with Matisse, as if he was primitive or copying primitive form. African masks and shapes from that great continent.
Learning his way as he went.
Did his search for feeling find him when he got the blues over the death of his best friend?
Edmund Portier had brought back photos of Africa to Paris.
Photography was tried and this led him into a different perspective.
He said “What was the point in painting now”. So he worked harder.
His photographs were cut and distorted in geometrical forms. The deconstruction.
Breaking up heads with sculpture he would feel his different experiences. Was it that simple?
Musical scales had been broken up and re-invented in New Orleans (named after the French city of Orlean) by the mixed race Creole. The Blues were born out of a re-invention of musical scales and the invention of The Blues Scale with its flattened third and its semi-tones.
So art would be remade and remodelled in Paris.

Then there was Eva.
Ma Jolie and the cubist musical instruments.
Braque enters the frame.
Picasso kept the portrait of Eva he did until his death. She died of Tuberculosis.
Jean Cocteau he met. In the village that was Montmartre.
Diaghilev and the Ballet Russe and Eric Satie and Olga, he followed on a tour.
He designed the curtain to, that, opera that did not go down too well.
Apollinaire said the new spirit was surrealism, a new spirit.

They would be inseparable. Olga Khokhlova.
Spanish flu took Apollonaire. Rozenburg financed his new glamorous life.
Ivor Stravinsky. High Society.
Bodies get bigger and giants appear in his work at this point, he is a father.
His work is his biography.
The roaring twenties. Dance Macabre is a change. Love is fatale his fears show anguish.
Paul Colin paints Jesephine Baker dancing in Le Revue Negre.
Marie-Therese Walter was 17. He disguises her even though she is seventeen.
He is 47 and takes photos and makes a flip book of images of her.
Obsessive repetition and the Minotaur.
The monster leaves Olga his wife, for Marie Therese.
Olga remained Madame Picasso because as a Spaniard he could not divorce.
A golden cage for Olga to live, and he wrote poetry to her.
Dora Maar spoke Spanish. Surrealism and Man Ray.
Hitler and Mussolini. Come into his life and play a part.
Andre Breton published his poems. Popular Front victory is Spain and Franco's civil war.
Spanish Pavilion asked for a painting. 27th April 1937.
Guernica.
It went on tour to Manchester as a fundraiser.
Françoise Gilot.
1947 and a new child. He lived in La Galliose.
Madoura ceramic workshops. He had moved south and worked there.
The dove of Peace. Dove, or Paloma in Spanish, was born.
Bullfights at Arles and Nimes.
1951 another girlfriend sees a break up with Franciose.
Jacqueline Roque 1954.
Olga died and Jacqueline became Madame Picasso.                           Marie Therese
Creation day, after day, after day. Canvases piled up.
He died in his bed drawing.
Marie Therese ended her life. Wouldn't you if you had this portrait painted of you?
Jacqueline in 1986 spilled a revolver in her head on the date of his inaugural exhibition. (in Madrid).
She definatly had the blues. Picasso seemed to give his lovers depression. Was he blue.
Quite a lot of Picasso's work depresses me.
His pottery at Madoura is all but a joke in my opinion.
If it was not by he, some of it would be laughable.

So where did the term the blues come from?
There are references that could be linked to feeling blue. A coldness of spirit.
Picasso maybe picked up on these blue thoughts.
Maybe it goes back a bit further than the great man to an age gone by.
There was a tradition amongst deep water sailing ships in America.
That when they had lost their Captain or officers, during the voyage to return to port, they would fly blue flags and also they would paint a blue band along the entire hull as it came into port.
Thus signifying that all was not right.
The blue paint was a warning to those ashore to expect the worst, prepare for some bad news.
Coleridge wrote and felt it in, The Ancient Mariner picking up the spirit of the sea, as he infused his blood with opium.
Death of a sailor could mean poverty for his wife and family.
But for Picasso it gave him inspiration to paint.
Feeling blue made you famous.
Just how blue can you be.








Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Antiques Roadshow 2017 Valuation Dates.

Here is where Antiques Roadshows is going in 2017


There are some great venues for 2017.

 2016 was a very good year with an average of six million people watching the show.

I had a great time as part of the Roadshow team in 2016.  

2017 looks like being a very exciting year but we rely on the wonderful people who take the time to bring their treasured possessions along.

 Not forgetting the things that may not appear to have any value, that they may have found in a skip or that may have been in the loft for decades.  See you soon.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4BFprksgSjpvxsdCTwDFQlJ/antiques-roadshows-2017