1 week 3 exhibitions

July 8, 2011 § 1 Comment

I have been a very busy girl of late, I managed to cram 3 exhibitions in one week! First on the exhibition tour was Constable at Salisbury Museum. It was a gloriously sunny day, not a cloud in the sky to be seen over Salisbury.  Which is pretty unusual in this part of the country. Although, I am not sure whether we have more than our fair proportion of clouds than anywhere else but the thought of ‘clouds’ was heavily on my mind, as I was walking around the exhibition. Much has been written about Constable’s love for his wife Maria (a book came out last year ‘Constable in Love’ by Martin Gayford- I haven’t read it yet). However, as a romantic landscape painter, I think that he was as much in love with clouds as he was in love with his wife! And who can blame him?

Constable spent his honeymoon visiting his friend and patron the Bishop of Salisbury Rev. John Fisher. Consequently, came to visit Salisbury a number of times and painted Salisbury Cathedral, as well as other local landmarks. Amongst many of his paintings, the 2 that stand out the most for me are his watercolours of Old Sarum and Stonehenge. Both on loan from the V&A for the exhibition. Both have truly remarkably dramatic clouds. The Stonehenge watercolour was painted after the death of Constable’s wife Maria and his closest friend Fisher. The mood is surely one of melancholy and desolation, despite its double rainbow. Both of which he must have felt at the time. Stonehenge was shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1836. I was very suprised to find out that Constable only sold about 20 paintings during his lifetime in England and yet sold more than this number in France in only a couple of years.

Old Sarum (1834) John Constable © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Stonehenge (1834) John Constable © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Robin and Lucienne Day exhibition at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester was next on my tour. What an amazing building. Pallant House is a Queen Anne town house Grade 1 listed building, dating from 1712. It also has a very modern extension, dating from 2006. It houses modern art and has a good restaurant called Field & Fork. It’s small but the freshly baked rolls and food were great! There was a very aptly named installation at a stairwell, looking out to a well proportioned window: ‘The Evening Star and ‘Passing Cloud after Constable’ by the New York contemporary artist Spencer Finch.

The Evening Star, Spencer Finch, 2010

The exhibition itself was very interesting. Robin and Lucienne Day were a husband and wife design duo of the post war era. Robin designed furniture and Lucienne textiles. Both designed for the Festival of Britain in 1951, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this summer. Robin designed the chairs for the Royal Festival Hall, which had to be mass produced cheaply. His designs are very functional and served a purpose. He designed chairs for the orchestra and chairs for the public lounge areas. This meant that as well as style and function, the chairs needed to be mass produced cost effectively. Hence, the materials he used reflected these requirements.

Armchair for Royal Festival Hall 1951 by Robin Day

Hillestack Chair, 1950 by Robin Day

Lucienne’s abtract textile designs in the ealy part of her career were influenced by her love of modern art. In particular the paintings of Joan Miro and Paul Klee.  I particularly like her bold design in bright red and oranges and blues and greens. They feel pretty contemporary. Although her Calyx design for Heals was the one that brought her to prominence, I like some of her later designs, such as Magnetic (1957), Apollo (late 1950s), Apex (1961), High Noon (1965), Sunrise (1969), Petal (1971) and Parkland (1974). I can’t show you any of the fabrics here due to copyright but if you wish to see the fabrics go to Dwell, where you will find a slideshow of some of the fabrics mentioned above under the heading ‘Britain’s Mid Century Female Designers’.

You can purchase some of Lucienne Day’s fabrics from Classic Textiles and Twentytwentyone.

I have found a very good review of the exhibition at the Architects’ Journal, which will do it justice more than I can hope to. So, if you are interested please read this. Unfortunately, the exhibition is now closed. I just managed to get there in its final few days. Also, the Design Museum have a concise write up on Robin and Lucienne Day, as well as other prominent designers past and present.

Finally, The Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition. I get such a buzz from going to the RA, one visit is just not enough. There is so much to take in that another visit is definitely worth making. There were big installations and canvases that would look great in public places. As  we have limited wall space in our living areas, such big works of art are out of the question. We had acquired a Bill Jacklin ‘Skaters ‘ some years ago from the Summer Exhibition. I was very happy to see some of his new work that he submitted for this year. Once I visit again, I will be able to report back with more information.


Mid-century creativity and Danish design today

June 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

As I mentioned before, the Shoreditch loft needs refurbishing. Given that it is going to be used for showcasing Raw Dice, we really want the furniture we choose to complement our existing product lines. So, I have been looking for inspiration with this purpose in mind. So far designs of Hans J. Wegner have caught my eye. Wegner was a very successful mid century Danish furniture designer. The purity of his chair designs are sublime. There are 3 chairs in particular that I think are worth looking at.

The Shell Chair, designed in 1963, is top of my list. It was presented at a Danish Furniture exhibition, where unbelievably people did not like its design and sales were poor. It was produced in very small quantities during the 1960s and re-introduced in 1998 by Carl Hansen & Son. Thank goodness, otherwise we would be deprived of this magnificent chair and certainly poorer for it. Strangely, it reminds me of a Samurai sword! Maybe they can rename it ‘The Samurai’ just for me! I am not sure whether I find the design elegant due to its curved seat or the three proportional legs. Either way, I think that it is best appreciated as a stand alone statement piece.

Shell Chair by Hans J. Wegner

Shell Chair by Hans J. Wegner

I also like Hans J Wegner’s easy chair, designed in 1952, called Sawhorse. This chair is made of pure wood. A marriage between American walnut (for the rounded armrests, back and seat) and European Oak (for legs).

Sawhorse Chair by Hans J. Wegner

Sawhorse Chair by Hans J. Wegner

The Sawhorse resembles a folding lounge chair made by one of our designers WE:DO:WOOD. Founded in 2006, this young and energetic Danish furniture design firm base their vision on the principles of sustainability and good design. We, at Raw Dice are very proud to stock their Trestle Table and Vario Bookcases.

WE:DO:WOOD Lounge Chair

Danish WE:DO:WOOd Bamboo Trestle Table

WE:DO:WOOD Trestle Table

Danish WE:DO:WOOD Vario Bookcases

WE:DO:WOOD Vario Bookcases

The Wishbone Chair, designed in 1959, would complement our WE:DO:WOOD trestle table perfectly. Hans J. Wenger drew inspiration from antique Chinese armchairs to come up with this design. The curved back is common as with the other chairs I have mentioned. Wegner’s strive for beauty in simplicity and comfort is evident from this chair. It comes in a variety of woods with natural cord seating.

Wishbone Chair by Hans J. Wegner

Currently we have 4 DSW Eames Side Chairs to go around our trestle table, 2 Wishbone Chairs would fit perfectly at either end. The beauty of the trestle table is not just in its purity of design but also the fact that it is made of sustainable bamboo.  It is as organic and environmentally friendly as they come. So, when I am eating my organic vegetables on my environmentally friendly table, I can sleep easy at night, knowing that change happens incrementally and every little helps!!

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