Hornsey Town Hall

This large Art Deco former town hall in Crouch End North London may be turned into a hotel but for now it is a cultural and community centre. 

An imposing building, it was built in 1933 by New Zealand-born Reginald Harold Uren, winning him the RIBA London Architecture Medal for 1935. His portrait below stands in the entrance hall opposite a snake photograph by one of my Victoria House Other Art Fair neighbours Andrew McGibbon

See how a simple recurring motif is developed for decorative use in partitions, flooring and balustrades.

And no visit is ever complete without checking the toilets.
Full of atmosphere and stories this building needs serious investment to survive so I hope the different groups will find a way to co-exist in the future.

Part hotel part community and art centre? I’m sure it could be done.

Young Masters at The Royal Overseas League in London

London Clubland (not the dancing type) is a world that most of us are only vaguely aware of and the Royal Overseas League is a case in point. A magnificent building tucked in a courtyard in St James and overlooking Green Park, it really is hidden away in the centre of London.

I’d heard about it but never actually been till very recently when invited to attend the Young Masters Art Prize exhibition, held there for the first time.

Organised by the Cynthia Corbett Gallery, the Young Masters celebrates artists “who pay homage to  the  skill and techniques of the past; knowing that young artists today are not afraid, unlike their predecessors, to look back at art history and its lessons.” Painting, photography, video and ceramics were all included.

This skylight and the next couple of photos give a small indication of the interior as well as how well the artwork sits within it.

Work by Antoine Schneck and Christoph Steinmeyer below.Isabelle van Zeijl‘s photography is on the left.These 3 photos by Sandro Miller (apologies for the photo quality but it was pretty dark) had me perplexed for a while but I got it by the third one. Can you?Lauren Nauman’s frail porcelain and brass piece below was only one of several ceramic artists shown.  ROSL, as it is commonly known, was the first London club to accept female members from the beginning and has an ongoing programme of art and music. For more information please visit the website.

Cerith Wyn Evans at the Duveen Gallery at Tate Britain

I’d seen a lot of this piece on social media and finally managed to visit it in person a week before it closed at Tate Britain’s wonderful Duveen Galleries.

Cerith Wyn Evans created this sculpture called Forms in Space…by Light (in Time) filling the gallery above our heads with neon shapes drawn in space. The structure begins with a circle

then 3 symbols used by opticians for eye tests , also used by Marcel Duchamp in his The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (the Large Glass)  

followed, as you walk through, by shapes initially inspired by the gestures of Japanese Noh theatre.

You don’t , of course have to view it from front to back; wandering around it gives so many different viewpoints.  I also wanted to mention the way the whole thing has been suspended – the support has a fascination of its own.You can see more of his work in London in the lobby of the recently opened Four Seasons hotel at 10 Trinity Square .

The V & A’s new extension

Gosh, how many years has it been since this entrance to the V&A was really properly used?

Well it’s now open and architect Amanda Levete’s company, AL_A has transformed this part of Exhibition Road as well as, of course, the museum itself with this dramatic intervention.

Fractal shapes dominate the courtyard: in tiles, grilles and windows

The new courtyard is entirely covered in white porcelain tiles making the area very light – the practical in me noted the difficulty in keeping these tiles clean though – as you can see below they’re already a bit grubby on the first day of opening. 

I love the contrast and conversation between the brand new and the established – see how the lines and angles respond to one another.Once inside, a dark-lined staircase takes you down  to a huge column-free gallery where Shade, an installation by artist Simon Heijdens could be experienced through those fractal windows.

Back up the double staircase to the Blavatnik Hall entrance wherethe existing mosaic tiles were re-used to create new designs.
And here is the model of it all before anything was even built.

Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic. Tapestry at the National Gallery

The National Gallery is currently hosting Chris Ofili’s large tapestry woven by master weavers at the Dovecot Tapestry Studio for a commission by the Clothworkers’ Company.

Weaving Magic is the exhibition of “The Caged Bird’s Song”, set in a darkened room surrounded by a monochrome painted chorus of dancers.

The original painting below is in watercolour, a subtle medium where, due to rapid drying times, you have to work fast. This fluidity has been beautifully translated into the completely different and painstakingly slow medium of tapestry weaving.
Look how the painting below has been reproduced in a massively enlarged scale and in yarn. This took several master weavers over two and a half years to produce.Here are a couple of close-ups showing the blend of yarns. Such is the level of detail I went back to scour the watercolour to check whether what I saw in the tapestry was in the painting – it was. The tapestry will move to its permanent home at the Clothworkers’ Company at the end of August so visit the Sunley Room before then if you can.

The Serpentine summer pavilion

It’s that time of year again when visitors to the Serpentine Gallery can also experience the annual Summer Pavilion, designed this year by Francis Kéré

It wasn’t raining when I visited; rather than have a central cascade as designed, the area (on the right in the photo below) was used for seating.

Bold blue stacked wooden walls and slatted wood for the roof gives dappled shading both inside and out Less easy to spot is the small wooden slide at the side – not just for kids.

New Designers Part 1 – Katy Gillam-Hull at One Year On

It always surprises me when I see work at this show that I never noticed at a previous New Designers exhibition which just shows what visual overload can do.

Katy Gillam-Hull is one such maker whose loving recognition and restitution of old fragments and tools were, for me at least, quite moving. Her interventions encourage us to look again at items which have been forgotten and discarded, and she gives them a new incarnation whilst retaining a connection with their previous life.These ceramic fragments are a case in point.The top to this old bottle has been made taking into account all the irregularities, ensuring a perfect fit.as does this stopper Apologies for some of the slightly blurred shots here, my macro setting went a bit weird on me.

Royal Bank of Canada garden at Chelsea Flower Show

Designed for the Royal Bank of Canada by first-time exhibitor Charlotte Harris, this garden, inspired by the Boreal Forest of Canada and focusing on the importance of fresh water, felt cool and serene on a hot day.

She completely captured the natural rhythm of form and texture along with a variety of greens making a harmonious and very appealing place.

Charlotte has been at Chelsea for several years working with other designers but this was her first Chelsea garden winning a well-deserved gold medal.