Research and Publications
With an extensive track record of books, papers, publications and reviews, research continues to be an integral part of what Spirit of the Place offers. From the first published article (1983, in the RIBA Journal) on the work of Sir John Ninian Comper, then Six Counties for the Blue Guide to Churches and Chapels of England (A&C Black) through publications, catalogues and videos on the designer FHK Henrion, Interactive Multimedia, Hampshire Villages, a number of exhibition catalogues to book reviews.
My new book, Art Deco Architecture - The Interwar Period, is due to be launched in the first week of July 2019. It is published by Crowood Press.
At present the following projects are being actively pursued.
Robert Anning Bell
Having now given two talks, to the London Branch of the Charles Rennie Macintosh Society and the Friends of Dillington House, I have been heartened by the genuine response of surprise and amazement that such an influential and wide-ranging artist should have been so overlooked.
Perhaps the least known of the late Arts and Crafts artists and designers, his work represents a true polymath and Renaissance man.
With his work as a painter and illustrator being most widely known, his work as a mosaicist and stained glass artist of considerable importance, has been largely forgotten. I am currently compiling a definitive list of his stained glass, (possibly in excess of 150 windows) which stretches from the far southwest and southeast of England throughout the country to Scotland. His teaching posts included Liverpool School of Architecture, The Glasgow School of Art and finally Professor of Design at the Royal College of Art. He was also a leading light in the Art Workers Guild.
Add to this his relief plasterwork sculpture, metal work, ceramics (working with Della Robbia Pottery in Birkenhead) wall paper designer, textile designer and you can see that he is truly a giant of the period. The almost complete lack of notes, sketchbooks and personal material is probably a key contributory reason why as yet no comprehensive study of his work has been published.
So a call for help, if anyone knows of a stained glass window, mosaic, ceramics or has any papers etc., please contact me via this website.
In the short term I will continue to give lectures about him and the medium term aim is to record and catalogue as much of his work as possible, with the goal of producing a book on this most noteworthy of late nineteenth and early twentieth century artists and designers.
Antwerp - City of Art Nouveau: The Golden Triangle and Beyond
Over the last fifteen years I have visited on many occasions, the Golden Triangle district in the Berchem suburb of Antwerp. The now, nearly 500 people, I have introduced to this phenomenal area, with its stunning late nineteenth and early twentieth century architecture, are shocked and surprised that it is so little known, visited and not accorded any mention in most Art Nouveau books. That there has not been a comprehensive publication in English is indeed mystifying. If this area is placed along side the two or three other Art Nouveau hotspots in the city, then there is a pressing need for a publication. Antwerp is one of the great European centres for Art Nouveau and needs to recognised as such. Likewise the key architects who were based in Antwerp at this time, Cols and Dever, Hofman, de Werdt, Bascourt, and van Averbek all need to be given the attention they so richly deserve.
Over the next year the necessary remaining research, the taking of photographs etc., will be completed with a view to publishing a book by June of 2021.
If you have not yet visited this city for its Art Nouveau heritage, then why not join one of the Travel Edition tours, “Art Deco and Art Nouveau in Lille and Antwerp”.
Perhaps the greatest single reason for new windows in churches across the land, since the Second World War, was the celebration of the Millennium. Certainly from the perspective of being the DAC (Diocesan Advisory Committee) member responsible for stained glass windows in the Exeter Diocese, I was stunned at how many window applications were submitted. The small number which did make it through all the planning stages represent, when examined alongside all the other Millennium windows, on a national scale, a significant contribution to the ongoing story of Stained Glass in churches in this country.
The research exercise will take in working with all 42 Church of England Dioceses and the 19 Roman Catholic Dioceses to produce a master list, which will then entail follow up visits to record and photograph the windows. In many cases interviews with stained glass artists will be undertaken. There will also be a section in the book which will take some of the individual windows as case studies, following the process through from the initial idea to completion.
It is envisaged that the research and visits will be complete by the end of 2020 with a view to publishing in 2021.