Tag Archives: Architecture

Quimper’s Saint Coretin Cathedral, Canterbury Cathedral and the local church of Locmarie

On a recent stay at Quimper in Brittany we devoted some time to the Cathedral:  Cathédrale Saint-Corentin de Quimper and it was interesting to experience this building and compare it both to our local Canterbury Cathedral that I know so well and also to the local and much less grand church around the corner from Saint-Coretin.  (Coretin was the city’s first bishop by the way)

Saint Coretin Cathedral, Quimper with the Odet River

Saint Coretin Cathedral, Quimper with the Odet River

Chapel at Saint Coretin Cathedral, Quimper

Chapel at Saint Coretin Cathedral, Quimper

Side Aisle of Saint Coretin Cathedral, Quimper

Side Aisle of Saint Coretin Cathedral, Quimper

Nave of Saint Coretin Cathedral, Quimper

Nave of Saint Coretin Cathedral, Quimper

Flying Buttressing at Saint Coretin Cathedral, Quimper

Flying Buttressing at Saint Coretin Cathedral, Quimper

Both the Canterbury cathedral and Saint-Coretin share an unusual feature:  Both buildings have unusually kinked aisles and whilst they are both of elderly – Canterbury has the edge in being more than a few hundred years older –  and Canterbury is significantly larger I found the spaces contained within Saint Coretin  curiously un-mystical and they left me cold. This may be slightly unfair as my favourite part of Canterbury is the crypt and whilst I feel sure Saint Cortetin has one, it isn’t open to the casual visitor so I didn’t get to experience it.  The building is altogether a more uniform structure, the whole comes across as being conceived by one mind or at least one conception and seems to be of a time which contrasts strongly to Canterbury that is a really cobbelled together structure and as Jonathan Foyle puts it is a journey through time.  I found the grey local stone rather unappealing lacking the warmth of the limestone used at Canterbury (that ironically was imported from Caen in Normandy!)  The inside however did have some marvellous colours that Canterbury does not have.

And not surprisingly, given Canterbury’s position as home of some of the finest medieval glass in existance, the stained-glass was universally poor by comparison, with some of the best examples being quite modern and I use the word “best” relatively.  (I note that Wikipedia suggests that the 15C glass is “exceptional” but then I guess that is a relative term) So overall, I came away feeling very happy to have visited the Cathedral but rather unmoved by the experience.

This was not the case at the church of Locmarie just across the Odet from the cathedral.  Here we found a marvellous space with no stained-glass at all and none of the grace to be found at either Canterbury or Saint Coretin but with so much more spirit than the latter. The church of Locmarie predates the cathedral by some three or four hundred years and is an entirely Romanesque structure featuring the massive walls, round arches and tiny windows that define the period.  But although its rough hewn interior had none of the finesse of St Coretin,  it does hold a truly magical feel that more than makes up for it’s inadequacies in other respects.

The church was built in 12C and there is surprisingly little more information about it.  The west wall was rebuilt a few hundred years after it was originally built but that aside, it kind of just is.  This is in itself refreshing as it allowed us to simply appreciate what was there, rather than thinking about who did what when and where etc etc.

Side Aisle of the Church of Locmarie, near Quimper

Side Aisle of the Church of Locmarie, near Quimper

Side Door at the Church of Locmarie, near Quimper

Side Door at the Church of Locmarie, near Quimper

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Side Chapel at the Church of Locmarie, near Quimper

Side Chapel at the Church of Locmarie, near Quimper

Nave of Side the Church of Locmarie, near Quimper

Nave of Side the Church of Locmarie, near Quimper

Time-Lapse in Middlesex

It has been a busy few months as is witnessed by the dirth of postings here!

I’ve just finished installing a long-term time-lapse set up on a construction site in Middlesex for those pillars of the civil engineering world: Conway.  Time Lapses are slightly curious things that can make even the mundane buildings interesting,  I guess seeing the passage of time (in the case many months) compressed into a minute or two kind of compresses the fascination too.

I’ve developed a PV powered system for this project that will, I hope circumvent the temperature and battery drain issues I’ve experienced in the past, particularly through the winter months.  Short duration projects don’t have this issue but battery drain plagues long term set ups like this one.

So here is how it looks this month:

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Balconies of Quimper, Brittany, France

It’s been a while since I last posted mainly because of work and holidays getting in the way and being distracted by my Drascombe Lugger restoration project.

But I did spot these fine wrought iron balconies in Quimper,  – a city that reminded me a lot of Canterbury in a French kind of way.

BalCompLR

 

The Skinners, a City of London Livery Company

I often find myself in one or other of the various Livery Halls dotted around the City of London (Not as a guest but rather pursuing my own trade for which there is no company!).  Last week I was doing a regular annual shoot for the Architects Benevolent Society who hold their event in a different Hall each year.  This year it was the Skinners and it was one Hall I had not visited before.

For those who may not be familiar with the traditions of this land, the Livery Companies all go back a very long way, (in the case o the Skinners, they were awarded their charter by Edward the Third in 1327) and they are essentially trade associations that exist to protect and promote their particular trade.  There are 108 of them (I have only visited a small handful) and many of them are rather wealthy institutions.  Originally they had strong links to the church but nowadays these links are rather know tenuous but many still do a great deal of charitable work.  The Skinners is a case in point.  In fact the Skinners as a trade ceased to exist a couple of hundred years ago but the company is still doing very well and currently supports four schools in Kent and London, runs Sheltered Housing accommodations and make generous grants to other charities.  And then of course they have their fine building, right next door to Cannon Street station and within spitting distance to the Thames river.

An interesting aside is that in 1484 the Skinners and Merchant Taylors had a argument about who whose barge go in front during the Mayor of London river procession.  In the end the Mayor himself had to intervene and decreed that henceforth each company would take turns to be in front and when the fixed order was finally arranged they alternated between positions six and seven.  This probably gave rise to the phrase “to be at sixes and sevens”

I had a few minutes to kill last week so I made use of my time by looking at things that interested me.  (This is not meant to be a comprehensive study of the hall!)  In particular I really liked the huge chest with it’s impressively ornate locking mechanism in the lid, which was accidently closed and it took all the skills of the locksmith to get it open again and only once he had been given a photograph of the workings!  Otherwise they are all quite self-explanatory.

Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London

Canterbury at Night and Brassai’s “Paris de Nuit”

One of the most precious photography books in my collection is Brassai’s “Paris de Nuit”.  This was given to me by my father about 20 years ago and is a well loved copy which detracts from it’s monetary value (it remains the most valuable book I own despite the wear) but in no way detracts from the images.  These images, along with those of Sudek have formed one of the back-bone of my photographic education. Interestingly though, I never felt moved to emulate any of their work at the time.  But last year, or it may have been the year before, I spent a number of winter nights tramping around the streets of Canterbury doing a Canterbury de Nuit series.

By way of background to Brassai, this Hungarian born photographer forms part of that rich stream of photographers that flowed out of Europe during the early part of the 20C.  He worked mainly in Paris and died there in 1984, after a life of work in photography.  His commercial commissioned work is largely forgotten now but his legacy of personal work is formidable.

And so to Canterbury at night…

Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction Canterbury Junction

More Art Deco Architecture and more Wallis, Gilbert and Partners – The Daimler Garage in Bloomsbury, London

You may think that I have a bit of a thing about Art Deco architecture – in fact I don’t but having shown the Hoover Building here recently I could not help noticing the Daimler Garage on my travels in London.  This is not quite as spectacular a project as Hoover but it is clearly from the same stable despite it’s tucked away location. It predates Hoover by one whole year (!) so certainly springs from the same creative impulse that was driving WG&P at the time.

There is not that much information about the building itself but it was built for the Daimler Hire Company to accommodate their fleet of chauffeur driven hire limousines for the rich, the idea being that you hired that car and driver together for three months at a time thereby by eliminating the hassle of having to buy the car and employing a driver. It was also a “try before you buy” scheme in as much as you got a refund if you decided to go the whole hog and buy a car.  If you have money to burn, I guess it makes sense.

The building itself is home to the McCann advertising agency and there is very little to indicate how exactly the building functioned as it is all now offices where as presumably at least some of the floors would have been garage space.

Anyway here are a few shots of it. (I didn’t do many as I was running late for my meeting and it was a very dull day!)…

1931, Art Deco, Architecture, Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, Daimler Garage, Bloomsbury, London 1931, Art Deco, Architecture, Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, Daimler Garage, Bloomsbury, London 1931, Art Deco, Architecture, Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, Daimler Garage, Bloomsbury, London 1931, Art Deco, Architecture, Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, Daimler Garage, Bloomsbury, London 1931, Art Deco, Architecture, Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, Daimler Garage, Bloomsbury, London 1931, Art Deco, Architecture, Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, Daimler Garage, Bloomsbury, London

Escalators

   It’s been a busy week or so with great weather which is great for work but less so for doing other stuff. Yesterday, was typical I started to the West of London, then went to Teddington  in West London, then Wimbledon (SW London), the Sydenham (SE London), then Greenwich (SE) and then back home.  Which adds up to a lot of driving and quite a bit of shooting in between, but not much else.  Still, I did find myself in a DIY superstore with some impressive escalators so given the dearth of time I shot those for fun, before moving on to my next location.

Escalator, London, Escalator, London, Escalator, London, Escalator, London,

Postmans Park, City of London – A kind of heart-rending 19C twitter feed in ceramics

On my way through the city last week, I had an hour or so “spare” after shooting a bunch of bankers so decided to revisit Postmans Park, just around the corner from St Pauls.

I was commissioned to photograph this wonderful space last year but at the time was too busy photographing the park itself to concentrate on the other significant feature of the space, namely the George Watts memorial wall.  I have now rectifed that omission!

By way of a very brief overview, the park is the biggest within the City of London walls and was once the city burial ground.  (Because space was at such a premium they laid the corpses down and covered them with earth rather than actually burying them which is the reason why the park is at a higher level than the surrounding area)  It narrowly escaped being sold for development in the early 1890’s and it was rescued in part by a substantial donation from Octavia Hill (later to become the founder of the National Trust).  It was at around this time that George Watts, the celebrated painter and sculptor, along with his second wife Mary Fraser Tytler proposed to create a space to celebrate and remember the bravery of ordinary people.  His original grand ideas were quashed the the great and the good of the city and the project had to be scaled down in size, ending up as a single wall of three rows of tiles with a tiled roof.  He was still able to use his connections in the art world to help in his endeavor.  In particular he sought the support of the renowned (at the time) ceramicist William de Morgan who designed and produced the first batch of tiles.

Unfortunately Watts himself was too infirm to attend the opening ceremony and indeed he died a year later and never saw the fruition of his work.  Mary carried the torch forward though and even though plagued by problems with suppliers (what’s new there then!) installed a total,of 54 tablets before she ran our of money in 1910.  A 55th tablet was added in 2009 commemorating Leigh Pitt who died rescuing a 9 year-old boy from drowning in Thamesmead canal.

All in all they make for a very poignant read and in their brevity they really are a kind of twitter in ceramics.

I recommend a visit if you fancy some downtime when next in the city.  If you can’t make it, you can always watch Jude Law in “Closer” in which the park was used as the opening and closing sequences and is pretty central to the plot as far as I recall.

The first image was commissioned and you can see the covered wall in sunlight ahead of the camera position. The others were shot last week.

(You can read a more in-depth description HERE:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postman%27s_Park)

122190 Postmans Park, London EC1

Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park

Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park

All Saints Church, Icklingham, Suffolk

Granted, All Saints was built as a church but given that this building hasn’t been in use for over 100 years to call it a “Church”  is perhaps something of a misnomer.

I swung by Icklingham on my way back to Kent after a shoot in Suffolk a week or so ago as it was only a 3 mile detour. All Saints Church is a Churches Conservation Trust museum piece and whilst it certainly was a church it has more of a museum feel now.   It is interesting that while I wholeheartedly support the work of the CCT they are effectively creating a network of little museums across the country, preserving the structures of buildings that have lost their spirit and in a sense their way too.  However this church remains a fine example of a thatched Suffolk Church and is positioned on what once was an ancient and important trade route.

The setting of this particular building is rather plain, pretty but nothing extraordinary although the key guardian was exceptionally cheerful and friendly which did add a kind of warm glow.

Inside, the building has a slightly curious kind of double nave which is in fact a nave plus side aisle but the huge window at the end of the side-aisle kind of elevates it’s visual significance to me.  Unfortunately nearly all the stained glass is long gone that the little that remains is not in the same league as the Canterbury Cathedral glass I have been photographing for the Getty Museum recently.  So I guess the space is very much brighter than it would have been originally, no doubt the fact that it was a gloriously sunny day when I visited, added to this.

Side aisle with large winbdow

Side aisle with large window

There were a few things that caught my eye:

I liked the well chewed pews, no doubt worn down by generations of small children (pre 1900) anxious to get out and play.

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A gnawed Pew

I was also intrigued by the curious short spiral staircase built into the wall dividing the main nave from the (single) side aisle.  This didn’t seem to go anywhere except to a small opening a few metres above the entrance which presumably was used as a pulpit, giving the priest a commanding view of his gathered flock.

The spiral staircase and pulpit

The spiral staircase and pulpit

The early 14C font had some crude but pleasing carvings around it’s perimeter and I particularly liked the faint but lovely octopus-like carving on the sarcophagus by the side door.  This door also sported a fine anchor shaped knocker.

All Saints Details

All Saints Details

The thatched roof was also interesting:

Icklingham Church, Suffolk, CCT, Conservation, thatch roof

You can read the CCT blurb about this church here:  http://www.visitchurches.org.uk/Ourchurches/Completelistofchurches/All-Saints-Church-Icklingham-Suffolk/

And I’ll let the pictures do the talking now:

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The Nave

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Looking across the nave towards the side aisle

Icklingham Church, Suffolk, CCT, Conservation, thatch roof

Light from the side Aisle Wndow

Icklingham Church, Suffolk, CCT, Conservation, thatch roof

Those chewed pews again

Icklingham Church, Suffolk, CCT, Conservation, thatch roof

Side aisle window

Icklingham Church, Suffolk, CCT, Conservation, thatch roof

Kings Cross Station, Dome Roof, London (MacAslan, Vinci & Arups)

Kings Cross, John MacAslan, Arup, London

I took a train to Nottingham last week and had a few minutes in the station waiting for it to come in.  Having just had it’s first birthday the John MacAslan structure is looking good and well worth a few pics while waiting.

It was built by the French company Vinci and was engineered by Arups.

Here is a time-lapse of the construction courtesy of The Telegraph:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/9142586/Timelapse-building-new-Kings-Cross-station-dome.html