Saturday, 24 May 2008
De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea
(Sorry -- I've lost the link for that image.) I was there last Tuesday, before a couple of sun-soaked days at Rodmell in the Sussex Ouse valley and South Downs – Eric Ravilious country, if you know that wonderful prewar British artist.
High Modernism greatly appeals to me. There’s a special variety associated with fresh air, health, the sea and swimming. The De La Warr Pavilion in this vein (Mendelsohn & Chermayeff, 1935) has just been restored from, apparently, near dereliction.
My own associations with this style of architecture are (1) the Lido in Lister Park, Bradford, and (2) an excellent play shown on Sunday night television in, perhaps, 1956: it was set in a Modernist Riviera hotel on the seafront in the late 1930s: wealthy British visitors mingled with MI5 agents and German spies – it was sinister and scary; but in addition there were a teenage boy and girl who met, etc., and one night were seen on the point of taking their clothes off to go swimming together… then the scene changed to the next day. This was the most erotic thing I had ever seen and was the hot topic in school in the morning. Ever since, High Modernist seaside architecture has had for me Nazi and erotic semiotic loadings.
I should add that the Pavilion contains an art gallery and auditorium, as well as cafe and restaurant. The gallery had an exhibition that we greatly enjoyed, of British post-war art -- painting, photography, sculpture. It's called Unpopular Culture and was curated by Grayson Perry, who talks interestingly on a video and has written far more intelligent captions than one typically sees in, say, Tate Modern -- presumably because he doesn't have recent Fine Art degree.
There are good photographs at LINK . (The site says, "You are free to view and download them for personal use but please do not link to them or publish them elswhere without seeking permission of the copyright holder." I'm not sure if a blog is personal use, but since the link can be found simply by Googling 'De La Warr Pavilion' I see no harm in giving it here.)