The view from Richmond Hill

If you had to guess the location of the only view in England that’s protected by an Act of Parliament, somewhere in the Lake District would possibly spring to mind, or perhaps the white cliffs of Dover. In fact it’s right here in London – the view from Richmond Hill. Sir Walter Scott (Heart of Midlothian) and Wordsworth (Sonnet June 1820) wrote about it, and Reynolds and Turner painted it. The view from the hill looks up the Thames towards Twickenham, and includes tiny Glover’s Island. And all to be found in zone four no less!

Turner – who lived nearby at Sandycoombe Lodge for a number of years – returned to this theme time and time again. A number of his paintings and numerous sketches show this view, or views of Richmond Hill itself – many of which can be easily viewed in digital format here on Tate Britain’s website. Reynolds lived on Richmond Hill itself – his 1788 work The Thames from Richmond Hill, can be seen here.

My photographs of the view were taken from the top of Terrace Gardens, which itself is also Grade II* listed and is on land that was originally three large private estates. The local authorities had been buying up various properties – including Glover’s Island – over the years in order to preserve and protect this area and its view. The view from Richmond Hill was officially protected in 1902 by an Act of Parliament known as the Richmond, Ham and Petersham Open Spaces Act. The National Trust took over the protection of the Petersham Meadows (at the bottom of the hill, on the left of these photographs) – and its languidly grazing cattle – in 2010.

Nearby: You are indeed spoilt for choice in Richmond and surrounds. Next to Richmond Hill is the lovely Richmond Park (pictured below), where you can watch wild deer roam and take tea in Bertrand Russell’s childhood home, Pembroke Lodge. Turner’s old house, Sandycoombe Lodge, will re-open for visits on the first Saturday of the month in April 2013. Nearby grand houses include Ham House (open some weekends in winter) and Marble Hill House (closed until late March 2013, but you can still visit its grounds and grotto).

Update: Written in Soap

Given that it’s now over three months (yes, a quarter of a year, where did it go?) – and we’ve had some pretty inclement weather in that time – I thought it was high time I made good on my promise to keep you updated on the progress of the soap statue in Cavendish Square. To briefly recap, artist Meekyoung Shin created a statue made from soap of the rather unpopular Duke of Cumberland – to fill the plinth that has stood empty in the square since the original was removed in 1868.

Before

After

Shin’s piece was unveiled back in July and will be on display until 30 June 2013, weathering whatever nature throws at in in the meantime. You can probably imagine my surprise when on approaching the statue there at first appeared to be no change at all. A closer inspection, however, revealed some extra cracking along the hind and one of the hind legs – some cracking was already present when I visited in August. Part of the soap is breaking up around the top of the tail – probably the most obvious new sign of decay – and there are a couple of darker marks elsewhere that might be parts of the underlying metal base showing through.

But all in all horse and rider are in excellent condition considering. The mottling of the colour was already present on my first visit and is probably due to the nature of the soap itself. The major difference to report is that a sign has since been placed next to the statue, explaining the project. This actually constitues a significant improvement, as due to its realistic appearance many visitors to the square seemed unaware of the unusual nature of the statue in their midst.

You can view my original post about Written in Soap here.

Read more about the project at: http://www.writteninsoap.com/

Horrorgami

Marc Hagan-Guirey’s Horrorgami certainly seems to be the flavour of the moment with London’s art lovers – if the numbers visiting last Sunday were anything to go by. Hagan-Guirey’s own specialist blend of the Japanese art of kirigami (think origami with scissors) with the horror films that were so influential on him as a child – resulting in ‘horrorgami’ – has also generated a unique exhibition featuring intricate paper models of iconic buildings from the genre.

London-based Hagan-Guirey’s first foray into horrorgami occurred when he built a model of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House as a thank-you gift for a friend who organised a visit to the innovative, concrete Californian house. Ennis House was also the setting for House on Haunted Hill – and when the next model he produced was the Addams Family Mansion, Hagan-Guirey realised he had something of a theme going.

Each of the 13 models in the exhibition are created from a single sheet of white paper. The gallery has presented these in two upstairs rooms, curtained off to create darkness. The works are placed in light boxes, with different colours backlighting the models to great effect. The devil is very much in the detail here – both the intricate nature of the works and the subtle features like the pram placed outside the Dakota Building in the Rosemary’s Baby model, and the figure peering eerily out from a window in the Psycho house. The reflections produced along the base of many of the light boxes are also particularly striking.

Horrorgami is free and on now until Wednesday 14th November at Gallery One and a Half, Ardleigh Street, N1 4HS. Monday-Friday 10-5, Sat-Sun 11-4. The closest station is Dalston Junction.

http://www.one-and-a-half.com/index.php?/upcoming/marc-hagan-guirey—horrorgami/

The models pictured here are (from top): Rosemary’s Baby/The Dakota Building, The Addams Family/The Addams Mansion, Psycho/The Bates Residence (detail), Ghostbusters/The Fire Station, The Amityville Horror/112 Ocean Avenue, House on Haunted Hill/Ennis House, Rosemary’s Baby/The Dakota Building (detail).