Friday, October 30, 2009

Hard Graft



Some overkill: two pieces about T Dan Smith, one (short) for BD, one (long) for 3:AM.

Also: the interviews I refer to are being uploaded onto Side TV, and make very interesting viewing....

9 Comments:

Blogger Matthew said...

I managed to pop up and see this on Saturday, Owen, so thanks for the reviews. I was there at 1pm, in fact, when the exhibition was closing for good, and the security guards were ushering the gathered crowds out of the building in the most polite manner possible. It was gratifying to see so many people there, grabbing their last chance to explore a rather recherché subeject in what is, after all, a non-mainstream venue. They were thronging, I tell you.

For all the talk of the uniqueness of Tyneside's topographically-inflected modernism - undoubtedly thrilling and of real worth - I read the whole thing as a de-facto defence of this brand of post-war redevelopment in much broader terms. That it was certainly more picturesque in Newcastle can hardly be doubted, but Newcastle can polish any old architectural turd to a gleaming finish using nothing but an incline and a dollop of Tyne fog. Smith only represented an extreme and infamous version of the progressive thinking present in Liverpool, Birmingham et al, with only the knowledge of his celebrity to differentiate between his architectural production and the results of similar schemes across the country (once one strips away topographical serendipity). Multi-level modernism was not only present in cities with existing multi-level traditions.

It was an incredible exhibition, but perhaps a little too absorbed in the idea of Smith as a king sitting in his regional stronghold, communicating only with centres of avant garde architectural and political thought across the globe, but forming no part of broad national trends. That side of the story was present, I suppose, but rather implicitly so.

5:49 pm  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

Yes, that's true, but Smith's very public advocacy of architecture and the obvious decline and fall story made it rather unavoidable I suspect - but Davies goes some way to balancing this, with the pics of .

Sheffield certainly had no multi-level tradition, or indeed any architectural tradition of any worth, but I would gladly see a similar exhibition on Hattersley and Womersley. Thing is I don't suspect Hattersley himself would be entirely game.

6:57 pm  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

whoops. The first para was supposed to end with 'the pics of Byker and Gateshead'.

6:58 pm  
Blogger Lang Rabbie said...

Will those wonderful John Davies photos be getting any future exposure through exhibition/publication?.

[nordostalgie]The one you had at the top of the post took me back to being a small child in our Morris Minor being driven across the Tyne Bridge and through Newcastle in the early '70s - until I spotted that interloper '90s building. [/nordostalgie]

11:07 pm  
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