Lincoln castle sits high on Lincoln Edge, overlooking the city. Within the space created by the Norman curtain wall defences of the castle there is an early Victorian Prison, now disused, and a building housing Law Courts. The law courts are still in use. It’s not at all unusual to see prison vans delivering those who are about to be put on trial lined up, within the walls, at the back of the law courts. It was a sunny day towards the end of September 2019. I was walking the circuit along the top of the castle wall. Looking down into the castle I saw a couple of Barristers discussing a case, probably with their instructing solicitor. PDBarton Lincoln 2019
The Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, except perhaps, when it has swarms of tourists all over it. Sue and I were there at the end of 2007. We arrived in the extreme cold and dark of an early morning. Abhishek had got us out of our beds saying “you have to be early”. As the sun came up the Taj appeared from the obscuring still mist, The rays of the sun glinted off pieces of pieces of semi precious stones inlaid into the dome. It was a truly wonderful experience. Shortly afterwards masses of tourist appeared, all vying to sit on the “Lady Diana” bench to get a selfie with the glorious Taj behind them. The moment was lost. Yes these images are touristy, but that’s what we were, simply tourists. Just two amongst the throng. And would I have missed it? Not a chance. Exquisite and wonderful. PDBarton Lincoln 2019
I was in Birmingham last week, the city of my birth. And just to remove any confusion, I’m talking of Birmingham in the West Midlands of England. Every time I visit there has been change. The city seems incapable of standing still for just one minute. Perhaps that’s how it should be, afterall, Birmingham is known as the driver behind the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19thC. and was for many years, the home of manufacturing in the UK earning it the aphorism of “The City of a Thousand Trades”. It’s not an old city. Its growth, fed by the industrial revolution, came as a result of hundreds of thousands of ‘immigrants’ from the farming communities in surrounding counties. My own forebears on both sides were “Aglabs”, agricultural labourers, from Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, together with true ‘immigrants’ from Ireland. Birmingham is a crucible, and always has been. With that growth comes continual change. As a reason for change, added to that of growth, is development – in the shape of technology, working methods etc. …
Three Brutalist building in Birmingham. Two of which have gone. The first is the now-demolished Birmingham Central Reference Library designed by John Madin and constructed in 1974. It lasted 41 years before its recent destruction. The second is the signal box at New St Station (comprising 2 images), designed by Bicknell & Hamilton and W.R. Healey and completed in 1965. This is listed and so remains. The third is 103 Colmore Row, the Nat West Tower, as it was known. Designed by John Madin. It opened in 1975. It was demolished in 2015-16 and is to be replaced by another, taller tower.
In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is a world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Wikipedia. I’m not sure this image shows that principle exactly, but somehow, the imperfection of dilapidation and the consequent transience has a beauty of its own, albeit the process has perhaps gone just too far. Nevertheless, this image of an old French Colonial townhouse in Pondicherry, Southeast India, for me anyway, has a faded grandeur and a presence all of its own. Peter Barton July 2019
I don’t know about you, but I thought the Barbican in London was simply an arts centre – “simply an Arts centre” there’s an understatement for a start. Just how wrong can you be? My wife, Sue, knowing I like Brutalist architecture bought me a ticket for a guided architectural tour of the ‘complex’ and complex it is. Not only is it an arts centre – by the way, this section of the development was finalised and built last – but it is a housing project comprising around 2000 flats. First, throw away all preconceptions of what a ‘housing project’ of this size would look like. The project was conceived in the late ’50s by architects, Chamberlin, Powell and Bon. They planned and delivered a high quality, wonderfully detailed living space, and due to the management of the terms of the letting or sale of the units, it has remained so ever since. Strict conditions apply regarding what the occupants can and cannot do – but I’m getting in front of myself. If I may backtrack; The area …
Baltic centre. Newcastle. March 2019.