Archive for the Architecture Category

Happy Christmas and New Year!


In my usual tradition, here is the round up of featured posts for 2011.  It’s been a pretty tubulent year personally for me and I haven’t blogged as much as I usually do – but my New Year resolution is to do so, so get ready for more eclectic mixes of art, design and quirkyness!  I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a bright New Year!

Stone me! Bathbombs, puppets, dribbles and Little Dancers!

Posted in Architecture, ART, BYGONE ADVERTISING AND PACKAGING, DESIGN, exhibitions, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 2, 2011 by echostains

Ronnie Wood Sketch

Musician,artist and printmaker  Ronnie Wood, who plays with the Rolling Stones (and has also played with The Faces, and the Jeff Beck Group) trained at Ealing Art College. His new exhibition, called ‘Time and Places’ will showcase 100 pieces of his work, including paintings of Jimi Hendrix, Slash and portraits of friends and family.  It shall run 7 – 12th November Cork Street, Mayfair. London.  Wood had this to say about his work:-

“People don’t know that I’m an artist. Playing music as part of a team effort is wonderful, but to express individuality as an artist is very personal. Art is more powerful, a more personal statement.”

 Creativity is creativity, but I take his point about personal expression and the need for own space to indulge this.  A group of artists can all bounce off each other and feed off ideas, each with their individual interpretation, – the inner journey must be solitary though.




Meanwhile, it’s nearly that time again.  No not Bonfire night – The Annual Turner Prize is nearly upon us.  love it or hate it, The Turner Prize has attracted controversy since it began back in 1984 to celebrate new developments in contemporary art.  Contenders have to have had outstanding exhibitions – and be under 50.

This year the exhibition will be held in the wonder BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Arts Gateshead.  This is a wonderful venue – a large and airy space  which used to be an old flour mill (see my review of this arts centre from when we visited – here)  The contenders for the Turner Prize this year are;-

Karla Black         


Martin Boyce
Hilary Lloyd
George Shaw

I shall be reviewing the other contenders in a later post, but my attention was drawn to the strange media of artist Karla Black – obviously a person after my heart where diverse media is concerned.  Whilst I have ground soft pastels mixed with polyfiller, and have flirted with latex, recycled acrylic scraps, Black uses crushed bath bombs (must smell wonderful!) foodstuffs and even medicines to make her sculptures.  Heavily influenced by psychoanalysis, she states;-

‘While there are ideas about psychological and emotional developmental processes held within the sculptures I make, the things themselves are actual physical explorations into thinking, feeling, communicating and relating’.

There’s a good review of this artist, image from here   If you want to see some of my painterly ‘recipes’ please look in my Categories MY SURFACES.  Here’s one I did earlier ‘Brown Sauce meets Latex’

This TV built 1936 was still going in 2009 please read the link below

Age is a dichotomy in many ways,on the one hand, nothing much surprises me any more – yet on the other there is still a yearning to believe in somethings and I still feel a childlike disappointment when they turn out to be wrong.  For instance, I find it very very difficult to believe that television is 75 years old today!  It seems only yesterday when I was told to see if there was any mail, went downstairs and saw a television showing a children’s programme in black and white.  I had never seen a television before – so you can imagine….  I was watching Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men – and they spoke my language 🙂   Bill and Ben, along with Andy Pandy, The Woodentops and many more were part of the Watch with Mother series.  BBC Watch with Mother ran from 1952 –  about 1965 when it was replaced by other children’s programmes like Camberwick Green, Pogles Wood and Trumpton.  Here’s a very early episode from Bill and Ben (Thanks to ) :-

Also in the news is the famous Little Dancer, the bronze ballerina made

The Little Dancer

by French Impressionist Edgar Degas.  The bronze sculpture, stands 40 inches in height and  wearing a silk hair ribbon and satin tutu failed to sell at Christie’s New York.  The ‘Little Dancer aged 14’  had a pre sale estimate of between $25 million to $35 million.  Degas’s heirs had 28 bronzes cast from the original which was made from tinted wax.  Whilst I find it difficult to believe that there was no buyer for such an iconic work – on the other hand, the price tag is a bit on the high side…..

Whilst the ‘Little Dancer’ is at least a bronze, Jackson Pollock’s No.5 1948 painting sold at for $140 million in a private sale in 2006.  The painting measures  8ft x 4ft and is on a sheet of fibreboard.  Quality versus quantity?  Not necessarily – take a look at the rest of the worlds most expensive paintings here.  Perhaps, in the end, a painting is only worth the price someone is willing to pay for it?

Ronnie Wood related link and painting from here

Television image and article (from 2009) is this TV still going now I wonder? read here

BBC first broadcast info here

Degas image and more information here

Candyfloss buildings and Marshmallow Skies

Posted in Architecture, DESIGN with tags , , , , , on July 1, 2011 by echostains

Kansas City Library public parking garage

Architects have their work cut out trying to dream up functional aestheticalyl pleasing buildings.  These particular buildings though, follow the dream literally.  They are castles in the air: imagination made practical, –  each of these buildings actually promotes a product.  For example, Kansas City Library actually incorporates book like structures into its public parking garage.  This might prove an expensive day out if you get a library fine AND  a parking fine. But the library car park is  not the only building to feature aspects of what it ‘sells or produces;-

Furnitureland South

When I first saw this building I thought that each drawer was a floor,  and puzzled over what furniture would be  considered to be ‘top drawer’ and what was tucked away in the bottom drawer, until I found out that  Furnitureland South in Jamestown NC USA is more of a sculpture attached to a building. What a great advertisement for the home furnishings is sells though.   Directions not needed – just look for the very tallboy – you can’t miss it – 85 foot high!

If you like ice cream and would like to live in an ice cream palace then you could buy one of these Twistee Treat ice cream shops!  This firm opened around 90 ice cream parlours between the 1980s and 90s and there’s actually one for sale in Florida (fully stocked).  You could always buy a dismantled one and put it back together yourself for 40,000 dollars though.  This building wood look refreshing in summer and extra chilly in winter – great fun though 🙂


Images from this interesting article – including more wacky buildings here

More information about the Kansas City Public Library car park and the choice of books used and why here

Furnitureland image from here

Happy Birthday Antoni Gaudi!

Posted in Architecture, ART HISTORY, ARTISTS BIRTHDAYS, DESIGN with tags , , , , on June 25, 2011 by echostains

Antoni Gaudi

Today is the birthday of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi.  Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí Cornet (to give him his full title) was born on this day in 1852 and died in 1926.  It is unknown where exactly he was born, but it may have been either Reus or Riudoms (he was baptised the day after his birth in the church  Sant Pere Apòstol in Reus, though he always stated his family was from Riudoms.

La Sagrada Familia Barcelona

Anyone who has seen Gaudi’s architecture never forgets it.  It is both beautiful yet playful and very very striking.  Barcelona abounds with it.  Gaudi is the best known Catalan Modernist, though he was briefly influenced by neo-Gothic art, he became part of the Catalan Modernista movement which was at its peak towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.

Casa Batilo roof and Gaudi's famous garlic form

Gaudi was inspired by nature and his work has an organic quality to it and shows his earlier oriental influences.  He studied at the Llotja School and the Barcelona Higher school of architecture, graduating in 1878.  He worked as a draughtsman to supplement his studies.

entrance hall Casa Vicens

His first important commission  was the Casa Vicens and after this success he received more commissions.  At the Worlds Fair he impressed Catalan Industrialist Eusebi Güell.  Gaudi was to work on future projects for Guell who became a firm friend an important patron and whom Gaudi did some of his most beautiful work for.

Finca Guell ventilation tower with ceramics

A lot has been written about this enigmatic architect and craftsman.  He has left the world a beautiful legacy  of architecture, and craftsmanship which shows such a purity of vision and just looking at it brings joy to the soul.

Casa Calvet

For more about this remarkable artist  read here

Gaudi’s life and works here 

All images from this fantastic site dedicated to the architect here

Gilded wood anagram designed by Gaudi with the letters JMJ (Jesus, Mary and Joseph

MEANWHILE…….Did you know that there are Goblins over
at Bookstains?  Just click here

Dream Buildings that are just that – Dreams!

Posted in Architecture, DESIGN, HOME with tags , , , , on November 9, 2009 by echostains

this one's called mammys cupboard and was built  1940 mississippi

There’s some strange buildings in this world.  Buildings made of salvage, buildings encrusted with shells, buildings that just cheer you up and make you think what great fun it would be to live in.

oast house Kent fairytale living surely

I have always thought that it would be fantastic to live in an Oast House; these are the houses  usuallyseen in Kent and Sussex. They were built to dry the hops to brew beer, but are so fairytale like as well as airy and practical!


Another building I used to dream of living in is the Lighthouse.  How exciting it must be to be in the middle of the sea, seeing all types of weather and braving the elements, but snug and content in your lighthouse.  Beaming out light and guiding ships to safety, sigh…

beautiful windmills
beautiful windmills

Or perhaps a windmill!  There’s something so romantic about these building.  The noise of the sails: the grinding of the corn, –  just constant continuity.  Surely this must count as a most lucupletative*  way of life?

* This is my adopted word that I have officially adopted and have promised to use where I can.  Here’s the site if you want to adopt a word HERE

The first picture came from THIS website: there’s some real wacky buildings on there!

Small Place that is Big on Character! Mr Thomas’s Chop House

Posted in Architecture, DESIGN, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA, OUT AND ABOUT MANCHESTER, PAST PLACES with tags , , , on November 1, 2009 by echostains

Mr Thomas's Chop House

We went for a meal in Mr Thomas’s Chop House, Manchester the other night.  I’ve  passed this place many times, even went in for a drink once, but I’ve never eaten in there.  The pub/restaurant size is deceptive.  The 1867 building is a long and narrow, giving the impression of a tiny bar at the front.  The restaurant goes on and on though…..

inside the restaurant

This place still enjoys a busy  atmosphere and still retains it’s original Victorian decorative arches and tiles.   Although it looks miniscule from the outside, it is actually  licensed for up to 175 people !  The building was originally a  Georgian townhouse of slender shape and has the distinction of being one of the first buildings in Manchester to have a  cast iron frame.

Mr Thomas himself

The food is good too!  It’s pub grub of course, but the presentation and the thought that has gone into the menu is wonderful.  The preparation time  for their famous Brown Onion Soup is 36 hours!  But don’t worry you won’t have to wait that long, lol!  We will go again, maybe try Mr Sam’s Chop House (nearby).  By the way, it does serve chops too!

Mr Thomas’s Chop House is situated at 52 Cross Street Manchester

HERE is the website

Of course it’s not all drinking and eating you know!  We do take in an exhibition from time to time.  Read my review of ‘Angels of Anarchy’ at Manchester City Art Gallery HERE

A Visit to Shrewsbury: Abbey to Appleyards

Posted in A VISIT TO SHREWSBURY, Architecture, DESIGN, PAST PLACES with tags , , on October 4, 2009 by echostains

The ancient market town of Shrewsbury continued from HERE


shrewsbury abbey

shrewsbury abbey

The Abbey itself was founded as a Benedictine Abbey in 1083 by Roger De Montgomery who was related to William the Conquerer and is still a place of worship.  It has a powerful atmosphere: the history seeps through the walls.

lord and lady shrewsbury abbey

lord and lady shrewsbury abbey

The first thing you notice (apart from the beautiful stained glass and the high altar), is the font.  This is made from an upturned Roman column, said to be from nearby Wroxeter.

inside shrewsbury-abbey

inside shrewsbury-abbey

Although there are over 660 ancient buildings in Shrewsbury, the Norman arches which were built in 1083 are the only building work left  that date from 11th century.

There are  quite a few tombs in the abbey and also what remains the remains of a shrine to St Winefride.

To read more about the interesting history of the Abbey HERE

Appleyards a ham sausage and cheese cornucopia

Appleyards a ham sausage and cheese cornucopia

Appleyards is  a Deli on the corner of Wyle Cop in Shrewsbury.  The window is a fascinating array of strange cheeses, homemade bread, exotic sausages and bottles of unusual ale.

The smells that waft out of the shop every time the door is opened just makes you want to go in.  Once inside, you can spend ages looking at all the unfamiliar food.  We bought some ale, olive bread and cheese from here.   Can’t remember what the cheese was called but it was lovely, spicy and peppery!

A Visit to Shrewsbury

Posted in A VISIT TO SHREWSBURY, Architecture, DESIGN, PAST PLACES with tags , , , , on October 2, 2009 by echostains

just one of many ancient buildings in Shrewsbury

just one of many ancient buildings in Shrewsbury

Just returned from a couple of days in the ancient market town of Shrewsbury (Salop).  Handy this scheduling tool isn’t it!  What a beautiful town this is.  Never have I seen so many ancient buildings – all in one place! 

the fabulous Derek Jacobi as Brother Cadfael

the fabulous Derek Jacobi as Brother Cadfael

 Shrewsbury can count Charles Darwin, Judge Jeffreys and Ellis Peters (the author of the Cadfael books) amongst its famous Salopians.  We have taken loads of pictures.  I will post  a selection  tomrrow.