I have admired the work of Bernhard and Hilla Becher ever since seeing their photographs in the one and only Tate at the time, in old London town.
An early example, possibly twelve small black and white prints of pit head winding gear, assembled in a three by four grid.
I became intrigued by the notion of serial art and typology, later in the seventies working as a Systems printmaker.
Very much in the tradition of Max Bill and Richard Paul Lohse.
In more recent years I have worked as a documentary photographer, at time paying homage to Bernhard and Hilla.
By placing several cooling towers side by side something happened, something like tonal music; you don’t see what makes the objects different until you bring them together, so subtle are their differences.
So on hearing of their exhibition at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, I excitedly booked my train ticket from Manchester.
Saturday 29th February 2020 – an auspicious Leap Year – knowingly taking a leap into the known unknown.
Braving the imminent threat of Storm Jorge.
I was given the warmest of welcomes by the gallery staff, spending a good while chatting to James, a fellow enthusiast.
My first surprise was the Bechers’ drawings, painting and notebooks.
Then onwards into two large, light spaces, with the work – actual Becher archive prints, displayed with the reverence that they deserve.
Given space to breath, in a calm contemplative area.
With a quiet attentive audience.
So here that are in situ – worth the wait, worth the train ticket, worth the two way seven hour rail trip. Seeing the prints close up reading the exposure, the thrill of the dodge and burn, a lifetime’s ambition realised.
This time of year, with limited light and an inclement climate, it’s far easier to travel by picture postcard. Researching and searching eBay to bring you the finest four colour repro pictures of our retail realm.
I was in town, just looking around, just looking for modernity, just looking.
I found you by chance between the railway and the high street, so I took a good look around, fascinated by the concrete sculptural panels on your fascia columns, those facing Abbey Walk.
Research tells me that they the work of Harold Gosney – born in Sheffield, he studied at Grimsby School of Art and London’s Slade School of Fine Art.
The majority of Gosney’s early commissions were collaborations with architects and he has made a significant contribution to public art in Grimsby. He is the artist responsible for the reliefs on the Abbey Walk car park, the large Grimsby seal by the entrance to the Grimsby Central Library and the Grim and Havelok themed copper relief on the side of Wilko store in Old Market Place.
The car park has been the subject of some speculative repairs and refurbishment:
In total, the scheme will cost the council £1.54 million.
The authority will borrow £1.34 million to fund the project with a further £200,000 coming from a local transport grant. But the council said that the improvements made could help increase revenue from the car park of around £34,000 a year.
Councillor Matthew Patrick, portfolio holder for transport at the council, said that the work is essential to “brighten up” the building and attract people into Grimsby.
“It’s one of the largest car parks in the town,” he said.
“It will attract more people into the town centre and help to improve the offering of the car park.”
Baby it happens when you’re close to me My heart starts beating – hey a strong beat. Oh I can’t leave you alone Can’t leave you alone
I walk over the Little Orme and there you are so well behaved – trimmed topped and tailed polished window washed windswept so sub-urbane.
Nothing ever happens here or does it?
The highly popular singing duo Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth retired to a small bungalow in Penrhyn Bay.
It provided a location for an episode of Hetty Wainthropp Investigates.
Originally a small farming community, Penrhyn Bay came to rely heavily on the employment opportunities of the limestone quarry operating since the mid-19th century, and served by its own narrow gauge railway, but quarrying ceased in 1936.
However, Penrhyn Bay expanded rapidly in the 20th century to become a desirable suburb of Llandudno – my you’re a hot property.
Almost half a million pounds and counting as the ever mounting mountain of retiring and retired knock upon your over ornate uPVC doors.
So here we are, as the rain clears and the sun almost breaks – your carefully rendered and stone clad walls, not quite awash with a golden midday glow.
Just like Arnie and General McArthur I’ll be back – I shall return.
Located in a residential area in East Manchester, Abbey Hey Allotment site is an award winning and thriving allotment community with over 100 plots.
I have to admit that not for the first time and certainly not the last, I was slightly lost. On my way to nowhere in particular via somewhere else, I cycled down a dead end track, along the wrong end of Ackroyd Avenue.
Allotments have been in existence for hundreds of years, with evidence pointing back to Anglo-Saxon times. But the system we recognise today has its roots in the Nineteenth Century, when land was given over to the labouring poor for the provision of food growing. This measure was desperately needed thanks to the rapid industrialisation of the country and the lack of a welfare state. In 1908 the Small Holdings and Allotments Act came into force, placing a duty on local authorities to provide sufficient allotments, according to demand. However it wasn’t until the end of the First World War that land was made available to all, primarily as a way of assisting returning service men (Land Settlement Facilities Act 1919) instead of just the labouring poor. The rights of allotment holders in England and Wales were strengthened through the Allotments Acts of 1922, but the most important change can be found in the Allotments Act of 1925 which established statutory allotments which local authorities could not sell off or covert without Ministerial consent, known as Section 8 Orders.
Betwixt and between the two world wars, the shortage of housing for the homeless, hopeless and dispossessed lead to an acceleration in the building of an informal architecture – the so-called Plotlands.
One such area and precious survivor from the last century is the Humberston Fitties – situated to south of Cleethorpes, preserved in time by the happy homesteaders.
Though under threat from Local Authority negligence or intervention, three hundred and twenty chalets prevail – against the incursion of planning regulations, building specs and a lack of respect.
I feel a real affinity for all Plotlands, having spent many summers in the converted Pagham railway carriage, belonging to my Aunty Alice and Uncle Arthur. They relocated to the south coast seeking cleaner air for Arthur’s ailing, industrialised northern lungs, thus prolonging his life.
Tamarisk – Pagham
So here are the photographs I took on a visit to The Fitties in July 2008, I walked the home made roads, amazed by the vigour and variety of shape, size, personal affectation and practical pragmatism, of this all too human architecture.
This is a particular form of independent minded Modernism – hand-forged from the vernacular.
It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are, than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise.