Jotting 1: Perambulation no.12

27th March 2024

John Wyver writes: I’m pleased that I seem to be managing to keep the Sunday dozen going, and while I don’t feel ready – or have the time – to return to blogging more seriously, I want to try floating another series. There are lots of things – films, books, plays, much more, that I enjoy and appreciate, and that I want to comment on or recommend. I can do that on Facebook and Bluesky, but I’m interested to see if that very modest social media activity can benefit from something just a tiny bit more substantial and less transient.

So I am going to experiment with what, for the moment at least, I call ‘jottings’ – occasional, random bite-size posts about anything and everything that appeals to me, which I have also decided for no particular reason to number. This first is combines a walking map from Modernist Estates and a resplendent Henry Moore sculpture, above.

I am a big fan of the Walking Guides written and designed by Stefi Orazi Studio and available from thingsyoucanbuy by Modernist Estates. These are beautifully produced as sheets that combine a map and a detailed walking guide to modernist buildings, mostly across London but there are also ones for Cambridge, Brussels, Berlin and Vienna.

Written by Stefi Orazi and Ruth Lang, Perambulation no.12 is for modernist housing in Lambeth South London, and Clare and I followed its route last Sunday morning. A perfectly-pitched combination of historical detail and aesthetic judgement ensures that you see so much more of the built environment through which you’re walking. There are constant surprises and delights, some of which are noted in the guide and others which are not.

A highlight of this walk on Sunday was Henry Moore’s Grade II listed Two Piece Reclining Figure No.3 (1961) which sits on a gentle mound right in the middle of Southwark’s Brandon Estate. The estate was planned by a London County Council team under Edward Hollamby around 1960, and as the walking guide says, ‘With a shared socialist vision, the architects and the LCC spent a large portion of the budget on art.’ There’s a very good Municipal Dreams blog post about the scheme here.

Moore made the sculpture in an edition of 7+1, and there are others in the collection of Tate [link to a very full catalogue essay) and at the Sainsbury Centre outside Norwich. In recent years there have been concerns about possible theft for the value of the bronze and a controversy about whether the council can or should sell it to fund essential services. But in the sunshine on Sunday, surrounded by decent quality social housing, it looked absolutely glorious – and an optimistic symbol of shared values that we could do with recovering today.

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