Thursday, 29 May 2008

A bit of controversy anyone?

Prominently displayed facing a full page advertisement for Marks and Spencer's line in ladies swimwear is the challenging headline 'Awards for best British buildings leave classicists out in the cold'. A sub headline notes that ,'The RIBA and the architectural profession are behaving like style facists'.

All this on the day that the RIBA is due to reveal the identity of the best new buildings of 2008 - effectively the list of candidates for the coveted Stirling Award.

Robert Adam notes that 'these awards are a con'. Julian Bicknell weighs in by accusing the Institute of 'self-imposed blindness' and notes that 'it is a tragedy that RIBA awards choose to ignore work done in supposedly traditional styles'.

The other side of the debate was put by experienced architectural judge Joanna van Heyningan who noted that 'there is no prejudice against classical architecture, there is a prejudice against poor architecture'.

While all this makes interesting reading for those who last the distance to page 8 in the Guardian, it does raise an interesting question. Despite the fact that most RIBA awards juries have an element of lay representation (and in my experience these representatives have not been backward in expressing opinions), are such awards too often chosen by architects and friends of architecture who are paid up members of the style facisti? Should not the odd classicist be included on the jury from time to time? Are the laity concerned that modern classical architecture is being spurned by the judges? How interested would the viewers of Grand Designs be were the subject to be a painstakingly crafted neo-classical mansion?

Your views and opinions will be welcome - I think.

Newsletter Issue 12 - May 2008

Read this doc on Scribd: may 2008 newsletter

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Scilly things in boats

When the Master suggested that there were numerous ways of getting to the Isles of Scilly for his weekend visit, not many of those who went envisaged wading ashore from a rubber dinghy.

In fairness this is a group of the more intrepid members of the party paying a visit on the final day to the only island which had escaped invasion up to that point. Most members of the party managed the travel from the mainland on more or less the appointed day but some, the Master included, found the local weather conditions, a bit trying. Once there, the sun shone unremittingly and a good time was had by all.

Included in the attractions arranged by the Master was a shore call by the St Mary's RNLI Lifeboat seen below with its crew of Company members and under the (temporary) command of Past Master Lady Stewart who, she informed the photographer, advised that 'I have always wanted to do this'. As we were definitely tied / lashed / anchored or otherwise attached to the dock the whole time, there is no question that there should be a reference in the caption to fast ladies and their boats (or vice versa).

There were numerous other attractions - a fascinating talk on the history of the islands and their antiquities, visits in an open top bus to stone age village sites, a wonderful conducted tour around the rightly famed Tresco Abbey Gardens, a lunch in the recently built Flying Boat Club on Tresco and rather a lot of excellent food and drink including a glass or several of the ubiquitous, Cornish bubbly in the back garden of the Master's house on St Mary's.

A good selection of those local personalities who have appeared in 'The Island Parish' were spotted during the weekend along with several seals and puffins - a half dozen of the latter obliged with a fly past that the Red Arrows would have been pleased with.

Profuse thanks are due to the Master and Victoria as well as to our many local hosts who made the weekend such a memorable one.

The Master, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Neptune- perched precariously above him, enjoying a quiet moment in Tresco Abbey Gardens