Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Edward Chambre Hardman-59 Rodney Street-The Truth=PART THREE

This give the, by this time, campaign, a new life. The Daily Post waded in deep and I kept the headlines coming. Radio Mereyside wanted a interview and I nervously went to talk to Roger Philips. Who was looking for something to report on. The City Council had sent a representative to argue for sending the archive to Bradford.          What! How can this be?

It was Councillor Frank Doran who I gave a right ear bashing to outside the studios calling him an idiot. 

Which proved to be correct as he subsequently had to resign. A clown.

I also found that the City Council owned 120,000 negatives and they were going to Bradford too. 

It was an outrage .

 Liverpool City Council hawking our heritage to......the lowest bidder. 

Well for free. 

Mike Storey was leader of Liverpool City Council. Not the most cultured of people. 

He would later be gobsmacked when Liverpool was announced a capital of culture.

 He wouldn't have a clue.

 Liverpool would receive the accolade of World Heritage Site Status and he would use executive powers to take the cities tall buildings policy away and accommodate some of the dodgiest land deals, that the people of Liverpool will forever pay the price for. You couldn't make it up.

He and his friend Trevor Jones would be in bed with The Duke of Westminster's property arm Grosvener and the council would give away most of the city centre for free.

Other headlines about missing antiques from the town hall added to the pressure.

Then BBC North West decided to do a programme as the whole campaign seemed to have legs. 

Mike McCartney was interviewed and at one stage he said “Everyone is moaning at us but we are the ones paying the tunnel fees to get over there. It was embarrassing for him.

I was annoyed. I wrote to him after we had a whip round in the barbers next door and enclosed £2.40, that was £1.20 each way return and said “take a paintbrush with you next time you lazy sod”

Everyone I spoke to was amazed at what was about to happen. Soon the public weight behind it gathered momentum and I kept filling the pages of The Daily Post.

Letters started to flow in and the radio waves went haywire.

 I had found in the Charity commissions files that Memories of Avignon had been licensed to a major print producing company....for 25 grand. The archive was worth a fortune.

The campaign began to remind me of the Simon Poliakoff film about another photographic archive nearly lost.

 I kicked up that much anti feeling against the idle trustees who were, by now getting worried. I got worried that I was starting to resemble the Timothy Small, off the wall character in the film.

I spoke to Poliakoff later when was giving a talk at The Unity Theatre and thanked him for his inspiration. “I have heard of the Chambre Hardman campaign” he said.

I wrote to Liverpool Museums and received a reply from the director Sir Richard Foster said he would look into the matter. He sadly committed suicide soon after.

I wrote a letter to the National Trust asking if they could look at taking over the house as they already had John Lennon's childhood home, Mendips.

I thought they could compliment each other.

 Lets say I was actively exploring every avenue, the lazy trustees had not. I was doing their work for them.

I asked for a meeting with the council leader Mike Storey who could not ignore the publicity as it was getting hot. I kicked up headlines every week. We were making them look foolish and showing them up for the lack of respect for the historical past.

He was ignorant to the history so I explained it to him and he offered to look into setting up a room in the Liverpool Library in William Brown Street to house it.

And the 120,000 neg's owned by The City Council.  

Gavin Stamp the historian waded in after I suggested we contact him.

Now we were getting somewhere and there was a great weight behind my campaign that many others had joined. We became The Friends of Chambre Hardman.

Peter Elson was up for an award for my, err, I mean his reporting.

PART TWO http://waynecolquhoun.blogspot.com/2020/07/the-chambre-hardman-house-57-rodney.html

Saturday, 15 August 2020

The Chambre Hardman House. 57 Rodney Street-The Truth. PART TWO

By chance I picked up a newspaper to read in a coffee shop at the corner of Brunswick street.
 It was November 1999. 
I noticed an article in the middle pages of The Liverpool Daily Post. With a headline. 

Turning a Positive into a Negative.

It was about Edward Chambre Hardman.
I knew that name.
A horrid neighbor of mine in Gateacre Brow had been working for the Social Services and was involved in the clearance of the photographers house when he passed away. 

A bloke called Peter Hagerty had recognized and formed a trust and there were calls to preserve all his stuff as it was a time capsule. So here we were now in 1999.
Peter Elson of the Daily Post had the good sense to question a press release from the Edward Chambre Hardman Trust who proclaimed that it was good thing.

That was, to send the whole Edward Chambre Hardman archive, including many unexplored negatives and all his life's work, to Bradford Museum of Film and Photography!!!!

That is no longer open. 

And sell the house to pay them to take it!

What! I thought.

This was the second article. I had missed the first.
This riled my back up and looking at the picture reproduced in the paper of Hardman, with his camera, he seemed to mouth to me.
'You are not going to let them do that are you'.
I wasn't.
I contacted Peter Elson who was looking for his next angle and told him as a art dealer in Liverpool I understood the worth of this collection, not only in monetary terms but as a cultural record of Liverpool's past.
“It wasn't any old archive” I said “It was a record of Liverpool's past”.
This seemed to give him an extra confidence. He had a hook for his next article.
We had a common goal to ensure this archive does not leave Liverpool and the house is not sold off to pay for the archive's donation to....Bradford. They were going to pay them to take it!

I had seen an exhibition at The Walker Art Gallery shortly after his death.
The collection moved through at least a couple of generations.
It was also a record of Liverpool's middle classes.
 Everyone who was anyone had their portrait taken by Hardman and Burrell.
Hardman never threw anything away.
There had been big ideas at the time. What had happened?
I set to work.
I got Chambre Hardmans will from the Records Office and after a bit of exploring I found that these trustees had been in possession of a load of cash. There were lots of assets.
Where had it all gone?
Peter Elson had obtained a quote for his first article from Mike McCartney who was Paul's brother and a well known documentary photographer of Liverpool himself.
I questioned why he was saying this was a good idea.

I made an appointment with the Charity Commission to see the accounts and dragged Peter Elson over to the Kings Dock.

There was all the evidence. Evidence of squandering all the money that had been left in his will.
To make matters worse McCartney was also a secret trustee!
Elson didn't know that. They tried to stitch up the press. He didn't fall for it.
There it was in black and white for all to see. For those who took half a day off work to do so.
The figures were alarming. The wastage amounted to £350,000. Yes!
They had even received a grant of £47,000 from Liverpool City Council.
One of the ex trustees was a director of the Bradford museum!
Another, Viv Tyler was renting space in the basement of the house in Rodney street.
For a peppercorn rent.
I had written to them offering my help. I did not receive a reply. They thought it would go quietly. They had not anticipated me and Peter Elson teaming up.
Lots of valuable pieces had gone missing without any proper records kept.
I noticed a picture of Edward sitting next to what appeared to be a Tiffany lamp.
Where was it?
It had gone missing.
There was a car that had disappeared.
This was all Peter Elson needed to swing back into action and the next headline was a damning indictment of the pathetic group of ineffectual people who had networked their way into being trustees of the most amazing record of Liverpool's past and its past people. This is the City that knocked the Cavern down and called itself Beatles Town and this was the photographic equivalent of that disaster.  

Here is the next Daily Post article.

This sent shock waves all around the city and the whole sorry escapade was now becoming more than just a few photographs it was becoming a point of order. a principle of looking after our historical records.

Of Shooting The Past.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Edward Chambre Hardman. 59 Rodney Street-The Truth. Part One.

Are The National Trust Liar's?
I noticed a poster tagged on the park gates of Reynolds Park in Church Road Woolton. It said that there was a talk taking place courtesy of The Woolton Society at St Marys Parish Hall.
 It was about Edward Chambre Hardman and The Hardman House in 59 Rodney Street. 
By Roy Wainwright of The National Trust.
Interesting I thought. 
There is a subject I know something about.
I wasn't doing anything else. 
It was a sunny summer evening, that I walked into the church hall and took my seat.
The speaker preparing his power point seemed to stop and notice me.
I recognized him.
He was the one that came over and asked if he could shake my hand. Thanking me.
 This was a wet Saturday afternoon.
I had been invited to meet the top brass. Of The Ark Royal. The Royal Navy were docked in Liverpool for the weekend. The Captain was being presented with a print of the famous photograph showing the construction of the famous aircraft carrier. By Edward Chambre Hardman.
The National Trust awarded the framed print but it was organised by Peter Elson of The Liverpool Daily Post.
“I love working here” the bloke said “And I have to thank you for all the work that you did helping save this house and the Chambre Hardman archive”. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you, I go out doing talks now. I love it.”
I remember it well because I had been touched at the time.
Little things like that make the hundred hours working on a heritage project seem worth it.
The house had been doomed to be sold off, when I had became involved.
So I sat there one sunny summer evening in Woolton feeling proud.
There are now books about his work. All could see the photographs of Edward Chambre Hardman.
Though many of his photographs had not been cataloged yet.
Listening to the talk about his life and his work. It had been worth it.
It was enjoyable enough.
Questions were taken at the end of his talk. 
I decided to sit on my hands and a few were answered.
Then one lady asked.
“Wasn't there a bit of controversy in the papers about it all, wasn't it going to be closed?”
“Errr no” he said scuffing on quickly to another question.
I nearly fell off my chair. I was about to stand up and put the matter straight.
The little fibber didn't look at me he just stood there in barefaced cheek.
With his pants on fire.
I had taped the whole talk. What a diabolical two faced joker I thought.
I am not having that.
Then I thought.
Did you do it for recognition, Wayne?
No I thought. It was something I just couldn't let go. I did it because I could.
I had made it my life for a while. 
I was successful. I know what I did.

They had written The Friends of Chambre Hardman out of his history despite the
 National Trust thanking us profusely at the time.
Diabolical bad manners, that.
I thought I would have a quiet word with him.
Then I thought. Y'know, I don't even want to acknowledge or talk to the balloon.
I walked away.

So with that. I decided to put the matter straight and post a few of the headlines I created.
So all can see what little ungrateful fibbers the National Trust are.

Part II to follow shortly.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. His Gothic Ideal Is All Around Us.

 I still recall how I wandered around the war torn streets thinking that everywhere was damaged and forlorn, and covered in a thick black patina, from the smog that frequently fell. Like a stone.
That at times, made even circumnavigating the other side of the street impossible.
The first church that I attended, was attached to our school. That was St Georges, and is a Grade I listed building of 1812. St Georges is one of the earliest buildings to be constructed by metal skeleton. Leaving it light and allowing the architecture to float in in its Georgian Gothic splendour. The decoration hanging on its Rickman designed cast iron frame.

I would not know the name Pugin, it would mean nothing to me until I started to feed the thirst for knowledge that I started developing while still in short pants.
Gothic was born of Rickmans work and was championed by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin.
The first time I looked up at the heavenly architecture of st Georges that was heightened and was shimmering in tinted colours, like a magic lantern slide. I wandered into a world of why. As the light from the only stained glass windows that escaped the Luftwaffe, pierced the pulpit during the services that I had to endure. My mind would wander. http://www.stgeorgeseverton.com/
It was built on the site of the old Liverpool lighthouse and Beacon lane fed up to its plateau. This was the old welsh town of Liverpool.
There were numerous massive buildings that I recall, that would either fall down or be demolished and the architecture of the firm of Pugin and Pugin, I would later find out, filled the streets around my home with Gothic pearls.
Our Lady Immaculate with the ambitious foundations of the Chancel Chapel on St Domingo Road. That would never be more than that. The plans to build a Majestic Cathedral, at the top of our street had never been able to to be realized. For lack of finances.
I could feel those ambitions all around me, enveloping my senses.
Decades later I would become a specialist in the restoration of listed buildings and then move into the world of antiques.
But I will never forget the way it made me feel to live in such a place with its monumental faded Gothic glory at every turn.
So now, when I may, understand the esoteric's of design, I try to keep on furthering my knowledge by the continual feeding of that seed. That grew out of those bombed out buildings that I played in as a child.
There were three Pugin and Pugin buildings in stones throw from, our house.

I want to explore here, a little more about The Great Gothic Master of Design.

Augustus Northmore Welby Pugin (Born 1812) wrote a scathing attack on British Georgian architecture. He called it an abomination.
CONTRASTS was written by Pugin when he was 25 and he does not hold back in his thought. The Industrial revolution of the 1830's had saw huge civil unrest.
A strong moral leadership was called for. But it was not there.
The country was burdened with George IV. Who did fancy himself as a patron of the arts.
He wanted to work on Buckingham Palace and the kings favourite architect John Nash who was a master of disguise was employed.
This work showed what we call Facadism where a building is cloaked in a Stucco fronting.
Pugin was an angry young man. He thought he would cleanse the immorality of this Georgian style. In 'Gothic' he asks the questions of the reasons of the demise of architecture.
Even though we now look at Georgian as an example of style that is admired, he thought Gothic was the way forward. Believing classicism to be false to a higher ideal.
St Giles in Staffordshire was an attempt to turn the tide of immorality through architecture. In his eyes Medieval fusion would be controlled into a channel of heavenly paradise. To him, the Gothic revival was devoutly christian. This was his brave new world......of looking back.
His mother Catherine Welby and August Charles had fled the french revolution and they settled in Bloomsbury. As a direct result of Catherine's inheritance. They were wealthy. The young Pugin never really went to school. His father supplemented their income by doing architectural drawing. At five years of age his parents took him to Lincoln Cathedral. He was struck by the genius of the prizmatic light dousing the building in contrasting colour's, that was built 700 years before.
He admired the honesty, and how the building was made.
Its skeleton was on show, there for all to see.
His father ran a drawing school and he and the pupils were taken to Northern France. Rouen Cathedral entranced him.
There is a drawing in the national archives entitled My first design at 9 years old.
He learnt about the engineering. How buildings held up. How they were built.
He was shown them the bones of how they were constructed. He would feel them.
Many Cathedrals were looted during the revolution. Many with sculptures were defaced. He noted this.
He would collect and would study fragments of medieval glass.

Low church services were held in preaching boxes in small chapels and his mother supported Edward Irving who was a sort of evangelist of the day.
He began to loathe the low style of service and turned to the theatre.
The Theatre Royale Richmond, entranced him at 15 years old, he saw the scenery flying on and off the stage. As if by magic. He began to study in three dimensions and in 1831 he designed quite lavishly for Henry VIII.
He gained a sense of the dramatic, with the immorality of the theatre.

Ann was 5 months pregnant when Pugin married her. He did the right thing and they seemed happy, until Ann died, shortly after childbirth. Then his mother died. And at the age of 21 he was a single parent. He was shattered by events and buried himself in the wreckage of his life and his Gothic ideal.

Contrasts won him the friendship of John Talbot the 16th Earl of Shrewsbury and his money gave him the capital for amongst others St Giles in Cheadle.
Cheadle, my perfect Cheadle he declared in later life. Picture The west doors of St Giles
At the consecration of his Gothic masterpiece of St Giles, Archbishops were present. He had come a long way. It was a national event. He wanted to capture a spirit something he felt and it all went into his ideas for Gothic.
Talbot's stately home is now Alton Towers.
He had converted to catholicism while writing 'Contrasts'. He adored the playing out of the service with all theatrical theatrical manner, he adored.
George Myers was his prefered builder, a Yorkshire man. They struck a chord, he had a understanding what Pugin wanted. Though on one project he was not involved in, the Bellfry fell down.
He would design wallpapers and Mintons took the decision to reinstate the practice of making encaustic tiles around his designs.
His friend John Hardman would make his metalwork and stained glass.

'The True Principle Of Pointed Architecture' was his second book. Published in 1841 it laid down six principles for building in the Gothic style.
Pugin believed good architecture is good society and it lays down all the principles of how to achieve this. A vision. Detail must have meaning. If it is constructed it can be decorated.
In his work he puts the hinge in full view showing exactly how the door is opening. A hidden hinge was imoral he thought.
He declared classicism was wrong and truth and honesty was Gods work.
'God will see if you skimp on hidden parts of the building' he would declare. This inspired a new generation of architects such a s George Gilbert Scott.
Who would say after reading Pugin.
'I felt as if I had awoken from my slumbers'.
The whole landscape of Britain would subsequently change through the thoughts and writings of the man'.
Though some people claim that modern buildings such as the Pompidou or Lloyds of London hold true. This is stupid thinking. They may hold the twisted principles dear but these have been, shall we say, stretched by the architects for good PR.

The Palace of Westminster burnt down and the rebuilding of the corrupt place would be replaced by Pugins moral ideal. Charles Barry had classic training, but Pugin overshadowed him. The towers were definatly Pugin which led but the heraldic interior, combining the work of John Hardman, that showed an ideal to an almost heavenly enlightenment of the mind.

We take for granted today the interiors of the chamber because we see it almost every day on TV. But it was made to overawe everyone who came in contact. And from his thousand drawings, he aimed for perfection. He was a man posessed. Working tirelessly.
The Soveriegns Throne is an example encompassed. The medieval view in revival form, evoked history and with a linear heritage from days gone by.
Though Barry was the architect, Pugin, in 1834 had designed an imaginary college and by co-incidence the year the Houses of Parliment burnt down.
It is almost the same building.
He was subsequently, unfairly written out of the final finished scheme. Barry claiming it all. While Pugin was working, he had no idea of the PR that was playing out around him.
Pugin worked because he wanted to. Barry got £25,000 while Pugin got £800.

Pugin had entered the debate surrounding wallpaper which was now entering into more mainstream consciousness after the Great Exhibition by designing a series of two dimensional papers. These were mostly heradic motifs for The Palace of Westminister. He would design a hundred different styles. There is a wonderful book showing his pattern designs from 1851-1859 in the V&A. Of course the best place to see them would be in place, on the walls. Of those hundred different wallpaper designs that were commissioned many were lost but his inspiration would seep into the public. I picked hand blocked Pugin wallpaper for my hall that is still available today if you know where to look. Though most of his designs would be too bold for most domestic settings. This debate be continued by Morris and Co.
His work then strangely dried up. This was his time, and he wasn't there.
Louisa his second wife of 5 children then died and at 32 he would struggle to cope with his paranoair.
He then wrote another book in Ramsgate.
An Apology for the Revival of Christian Architecture in England. He explains as best he can under the pressure of his developing illness and proclaims Gothic should be on every detail as what was in The Grange, that he designed for himself. It is.....Gothic to the core. Designed from the inside out and not the other way round, as of most architects of the day seemed to do. Rooms were arranged in the need for movement he was absorbed in theatrical vibrancy of its interiors.
Trefoiled escutcheons and Gothic handles with inscriptions declaring his love of patrons, family and places. It's as if he wanted to surround himself in a cocoon.
He married a third time.
He would stay at the Grange for the rest of his life.
He would exhibit at the 1851 Exhibition, a medieval court. It was acclaimed at all levels. Though he never won a prize for manufacture as a designer.
He then built a church next to the Grange. St Augustin's. Of napped flint, sandwiched between horizontal lines and courses of stone. This was a new departure in architecture for him. This building has recently been restored. His finances suffered.
It encapsulated his faith. £14,000 of his own money and he couldnt afford the spire.
It was all becoming too much. He was having blackouts.
The Westminister clock tower hadn't been built and Barry turned to Pugin who was ill with piles, worms and strange visions.
The finished article is said to be a masterpiece in delicacy reaching for the heavens.
He never made the opening of his design after a mental breakdown.
Consigned to Bedlam and in 1852 at the age of 40 he died. His tomb in St Augustin's decorated with carvings of his family.
He died at the same time as The Duke of Wellington and his death was relegated to the back pages of the periodicals. This maybe a metaphor or a symbol of his whole life. His son E.W Pugin would continue his work.
It took a hundred years for his recognition to come to the fore.
Half French, as was Brunel. They both were largely forgotten.
They, in time would both become greats.
In working on his book Gothic revival published 1928 Kenneth Clarke found it hard to believe that a man so little known was actually so important.
But still Pugin needs to be explored because what he created was more than buildings it was an ideal, a movement.
There are not many who could do that. And Pugin is one of the greats.

I will always remember the lightness of the cast iron framed architecture of St Georges. I visited there recently. The side entrance to the back of the church still has the same atmosphere and smell from decades past.
Looking at old photographs, I also remember the stolid Victorian remnants of the Victorian buildings of the era I grew up in. Most of it is heavy, over adorned, over engineered and self apposing.
I think this is why I love the lightness of the Georgians at their best..... and the freshness and the feel of the best of French Art Deco.
Though I do declare I love the work and appreciate the ideals of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin.

Friday, 12 June 2020

Liverpool The City That Knocked The Cavern Club Down, Then Called Itself Beatles Town.

I was born just off St Domingo Road in Everton, though it was nearer to the hallowed turf of Anfield. 
The proximity to Anfield is what provided me with my pocket money.
 I would mind cars on match day.
 It was great running up and down the street “Can I mind your car Sir”.
I would put my Liverpool scarf on early in the morning and we would have a little bit of territory in our cobbled street with which to work.
People were kind.

 It was a friendly gesture rewarded for the effort and enthusiasm. 
The drivers in would get out in their red and white scarves. They didn't have to give you a few coppers but I think it heightened match day for them.
There would be no cars in our street of a normal day. There wasn't anybody living there whose income could afford to run one.
 It showed you that if you tried a bit and were pleasant, you could earn a little bit. Which in turn made your life a bit better.
 Mainly in the ability to buy football cards that you could collect into an album. I can still remember the team goalkeeper was Tommy Lawrence, right up to Peter Thompson on the left wing. The beginning of collecting, maybe.
It was a friendly place, we knew everyone in the street. I still today can recall most of our neighbours names.
 The surrounding streets were pockmarked with missing houses that had been bombed during the war looking like missing teeth within a pretty girls smile. Other houses were shored up with timber.
We played war games amongst the debris and in the abandoned houses with broken window pains.
Around a similar time I was once showed how to throw a brick at a church window by an older lad.
 It was covered in a grill and made a great noise. I hadn't realised why my so called mentor was running away, until a white collared clergyman came out from a side door running towards me shaking his first. I learnt how to run that day. 
And how to keep away from this tearaway who fell about in stitches laughing.
I didn't think it funny at all especially when a knock on the door came and there he was reporting me to my mother. You grow up quick in the school of hard knocks.
The church was two streets away, the other side of Sir Thomas White Gardens which was quickly becoming a failed experiment into social housing. Its no longer there. Either is the church that became our playground. I used to run errands having made friends with the people inside. 
I never picked up a stone in anger again and soon realized why the beautiful glass windows were covered up.
At that time in Liverpool there was a different mentality, Protestants and Catholics were enemies, or so we were taught. 
We played football matches when we found someone with a ball. The teams were usually picked by religion. I thought whats all this about.
I soon grew up and realized, just as I had been shown to throw a stone, that I was not to listen to my elders, not to be guided by the wrong people.
To form my own judgments by study.

Decades later whilst driving past, I found the same church in disrepair and about to be demolished so I removed some of the fittings before the bulldozers destroyed them and put them in my stores to re use. Then shortly after, while reading Freddy O'Conners “It All Came Tumbling Down” I found a picture of my street, and a picture of a church that was designed by Pugin, well the firm of E.W Pugin. I was a property developer by this time. I then realized that there were several Pugin buildings in the vicinity and I also realized I had felt the gravity of the history in the humble little street that was condemned by the city council as a slum and we were sent to a modern house in the suburbs.
I always regretted the move. The wash house, that steamy place where the washer women gathered to chit chat away was in fact a Pugin building.
If you are born poor you dont know anything else.
My first BBC appearance was for a documentary about slum housing and I was nominated for interview by the headmaster of my school St Georges. 
I recall in my past memory that I was talking about growing up and there and some shots walking home from school with my friend.

I must have only been six years of age. We did not have a TV and had to go to a neighbours house to watch it. I have tried to find it in the BBC archives but I fear its lost.

 It showed a happy little child growing up and attending a school with its Grade I listed St Georges church, walking home through Everton Library, also a listed building that had escaped the blitz.
https://waynecolquhoun.blogspot.com/search?q=st+georges I wrote about St Georges some time ago.
Not long after being cleared out to the new Metro-land. A concrete jungle. I missed the sturdy security of my poor working class background and the way the people stood together and helped each other. 
People who had nothing would share their last bit of food with you, not knowing if there would be any money with which to buy more for themselves.
 Boot boys and football hooliganism appeared. Things rather dramatically in the coming years. When I started going the match it had become a dangerous place.

Now I understand that that church was in fact The Chancel Chapel erected to be the beginning of the building of a new Cathedral of such gigantic proportions that it would rival St Peters in Rome. The Church never got the necessary finances required and after war decimated Liverpool a free site was given to the Catholic Church near the city centre. This would see The new Metropolitan Cathedral Of Christ The King, or Paddy's Wigwam built. 
I was an apprentice watching this new space rocket erupt on the plateau opposite the Anglican Cathedral by Giles Gilbert Scott. I did not like it.
Later I got angry with what was happening to my city and how it's historical buildings were being targeted for redevelopment in the new era that was bringing a new prosperity...with little respect for my past.
I had become a vociferous heritage campaigner as Liverpool became a World Heritage City it began to destroy the Pier Head. 
The famous Three Graces had escaped The Luftwaffe and then the city planners set about destroying the majesty of Liverpool's waterfront.
Now I was negotiating with Unesco to save its soul as we watched the corrupt city council planners destroying my city that I had been so proud of, yes proud, even with all its tatty edges and incongruities,
It was my town. And they were knocking it down.
I would be as vocal as I could with some great success I gained a respect for my opinions and believed I could shape the argument of how to keep what was the essence of the city yet bring it into the modern times.
This is the city that knocked The Cavern down and then called itself Beatles Town.
Liverpool became European Capital of Culture and some argued that the only culture they could find was in the yougurt, in the fridge, in the Kwik Save, in Old Swan.

They built without respect, on and on, higher and higher, the World Heritage Site was becoming a architectural mess.
https://waynecolquhoun.blogspot.com/2019/06/liverpool-threatened-with-world.html I tried to inform the public. What happens if the econony shifts? I said.
I would be asked my opinion many times.
 One request was to the merit of The Metropolitan Cathedral by the Editor of the Liverpool Daily Post where I was careful not to throw stones at it, but give it a conseintious view built up by years of experience, questioning.
The lack of knowledge in the city for its heritage assets was apparent, especially that of the Editor of both the Daily Post Mark Thomas and the Liverpool Echo which had sunk to an all time low under Alaistair Machray.
It was in the Lutyens Crypt within the Metropolitan Cathedral that I made my Antiques Roadshow debut where I was invited to become a specialist on the longest running factual programme in the history of the BBC. https://waynecolquhoun.blogspot.com/2014/09/antiques-roadshow-what-amazing.html This was the programme I had loved since discovering it one Sunday night a long time ago. Those stories those objects, It lit up my life like a beacon.

Hopefuly I was invited to become part of the show because I understand the meaning of how important the past is to our future.
How we need history, the stories and meanings of the past.
How we use objects as a vessel to discover who we are.
And more importantly how to objectively look at everything without believing what you are told. To question and not be ordered how to think.
I believe that lad who taught me how to throw a brick made me think, and I formed the opinion that we should never trust in those who appear to be in a superior position.

And now I own a 19th century Grade II listed slate built Chapel where I will open my new gallery soon. I spent the summer restoring it and phase one is nearly completed and I realize that those who live in ecclesiastical buildings should not throw stones, yes I have learnt a lot.....................oops, I have just realized I started off writing about the designer architect who brought Gothic architecture back to the fore and in doing so changed forever the shape of our cities. Augustus Northmore Welby Pugin.
I will now have make that my next post I got a bit carried away there.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Stranger On The Shore. By Acker Bilk-One Of My Favourite Things.

Stranger On The Shore. By Acker Bilk.

It seem topical and not hard to imagine the title of this tune in today's Isolated climate of May 2020.

Being born into a slum clearance terrace house that was not deemed fit for habitation, as a family we got moved to a modern council estate on the outskirts of Liverpool.
Times were hard there was no money around and the decline of the docks saw a demise of industry due to the geographical change and containerization.
In this very poor climate it would be easy to fall in to all the traps around me.
During the 1970's times were really tough but I got myself out and worked. Firstly as a milk lad helping deliver milk on our estate for 15p a day. I saved up.
Then I got a job as a paper lad and was able to earn a little money.
All my well earned money went on clothes, as my parents could not afford a lot....and fishing tackle.
Discovering fishing was a lifesaver for me. I joined a newly formed club on the estate and we would go off to these amazing locations in the countryside, of a Sunday, mostly, in North Wales.
I can recall the first glistening Perch I caught on a freezing Sunday morn. It was magical. It was small. And the fact that it jumped on my hook didn't matter.
I had caught a fish.
The excitement of hunting these monster fish we never caught was enthralling.

It was my escape. Some of the kids at school called me Findus or Captain Haddock but I did not care. It was they who did not understand. Many of them would get into serious trouble. While I stayed out of it.
I asked my parents for a radio for Christmas and a small leather cased portable radio that took a single 9V battery was found wrapped up on Christmas day.
It seems hard to imagine in this day and age, how something as simple as having your own pocket radio could change your life but it did. I carried it everywhere.
Listening and learning. Searching for the limited number of stations that would introduce me to new music.
During the course fishing closed season we charrabanged on our old fashioned smiley faced coach up to The lake district. The coach doubled up as a meeting place during the week, a sort of youth club.
 It took hours of motorway.
Then around a corner as if landing on another planet there it was, The Lake. The excitement of seeing Ullswater lake, several miles long simmering in the beautiful luscious green land still lives with me today.
Me and my fishing friend got off the coach we would be picked up early evening for the journey home. For a day we were free. Fishing we went.
It may have been the wrong spot we seemed to be on a shallow gravel shingle and the ledge for the lake drop off was so far out that there was not even enough line on my reel with which to cast out far enough.
This was a bad spot.
Ingenuity was needed. I emptied the contents of my fishing basket on the bank and waded out with my rod until the water came confortably up to the top of my wellies. I sunk my basket and loaded it with rocks so it would not float away, and closed the lid and sat on it.
 I was 300 yards away from the bank. In 15 inches of water.
I took out of my pocket, my box, of tanlged worms and baited up, on a size 14 spade end hook, casting comfortably over the shelf and hopefully into the range of some monster trout.

I turned around and I was so far from the bank amidst the shimmering silver glade of water. I felt as if I was floating on silver ice. All around me was calm. The beauty moved me, and to this day I can remember the rolling hills foreshadowing that crystal mass of becalmed lake. There was no wind. It was beautiful. I felt safe and calm and alone. The silence of the lake deafened me with its majesty.
I felt like a speckle, a tiny little piece in the huge jigsaw of life.

I took out my coat pocket my radio and tuned it into the only channel I could pick up. Crackling away I finally balanced it in and on the radio as if by magic came the beautiful sound of....... Stranger On The Shore.
I had heard it before but today the beautiful clarinet solo hit me like a log, and as I looked around here I was.
The Stranger On The Shore.
It was very emotional. I may have shed a tear as I sat there looking around me at the sheer beauty of the place. It was a shimmering surreal experience that I have never forgotten.
The most beautiful isolation of my life.
Away from it all, free of everything in the wilderness of the deep. I was floating on air, or walking on water.
In no time the beautiful tone filtered away and I was forever moved in stillness.

Until my rod tipped and up from the deep cane a two pound eel.
This was the worst place you could wish to catch this slithering slimy half fish half snake, that you can never grab properly.
And all the time it wants to bite you.
We were always scared of eels for some reason they would wrap around your arm like an Anaconda. I didn't want to catch them.
Getting it back to the bank after the cold water slowly slipped over the top of my boots could have easily ruined my day but at least it was a fish caught in the fishing competition of life.
It took me an age to unhook the wriggling slithering monster.

That song has never left me and even through my musical journey into Reggae, Soul, Punk, Joy Division and many other genre's I would always have to pause to have my soul pierced by the beauty of this old fashioned song that never left my heart.
It was something you didn't admit to when your mates were buying Sex Pistols records called Never Mind The B****cks, but I still recalled that day every time it was heard it.
Twenty five years later at a massive street market in Lille, by now I seem to have escaped all those beartraps of life and I am a antique dealer. With a shop in a arcade that Pevsner the architectural historian described as making Burlington Arcade in London, look pedestrian.
There staring at me on the floor amongst a load of junk is a shiny black ebony and silver keyed ......clarinet.
A beautiful instrument, and it seemed to call me. I went over and picked it up and asked the price which was the equivalent of £50. It was old, but I bought it for £35 or the equivalent in Francs.
It was like as if it called out to me. Buy me. As if I got a clarion call.
As if I remembered the tune I grew up with. That old fashioned tune by Acker Bilk who had become a caricature of trad jazz, even though my favorite song was without definition, it was part of that era.
It was a beautiful tune.
Now coming from that council estate in Liverpool and not having an education I have had to use my brains, and my brain is telling me,
“You can't play a note, don't even begin” So I ignored my own advice and showed it to a bloke who come in the shop.
“Have you got a reed for it” he said
“What” I replied.
Ignorant to anything about it. He brought a reed in the next day and clipped it into the mouthpiece. By chance he was an old trad jazzer.
“Can you play Stranger On The Shore” I said.
He did. It was as surreal as my early experience. I wanted to learn it.
I developed a way of writing down the notes by sketching on paper the holes of the clarinet and coloring in the ones that my fingers would close. To form a note.
I soon realized that the note C was, three colored in dots, and D was two. Six was low G and all open was the G in the octave above.
It was like learning a new language. But I like a challenge.
And so began the longest journey of my life. Having no musical experience whatso-ever. At forty years of age. I decided I was going to take up the clarinet. 
Learning to read from the stave was a long and lonely task. You can't buy it. you have to keep on keeping on. Barrier after barrier was broken down until I could read a basic tune.
 I felt that my fingers needed breaking and resetting again as they had formed, not as a musician at all, at all.
Every day I worked an hour at least for years. I learnt the tune I heard as a child and it was an achievement like nothing else I had done before.
I was now a musician of sorts. Formed a band even. wrote out scores.

I stopped and thought one day why do you like that old fashioned tune so much?
I learnt that when I was still a baby, it was the theme tune to a series on BBC. It was written by Acker Bilk and named after his daughter Jenny shortly after she was born. He gifted her all the royalties. It went to no One in America and no two in Britain. And in May 1969 the crew of Apollo 10 took it with them, into their own isolation, to the moon. It was played at the funeral of a dear friend who knew I played it.
I have often seen Acker Bilk on TV in daft hats and striped waistcoats , in old films with names like Its Trad Dad or similar, man he could play.
I learnt it was the second longest running record in the charts, ever, or the hit parade as it used to be called.
 Fifty two weeks in continuity. It made number two.
It wasn't just me that liked it. They played The Cavern Club.
Then The Beatles came along and it all changed.
But you cant keep a beautiful tune down and here I am several decades later still talking about it.

I was honored to have been invited to join The Antiques Roadshow team in 2015 and its fair to say I kept myself away from all those traps that lurked in wait.
I educated myself but it was all due to a work ethic to aquire my fishing tackle, and the need to get out of town, to be, even just for a few hours, that Stranger On The Shore.

In these difficult times with everyone in lockdown, I can put my licquorice stick together and play....from memory......Stranger On The Shore.
That I learnt by dots.
And I am transferred back to the Cumbrian lakes, in isolation, on a shingle shore, without a care.
And today as I play, several decades later a tear slips down my cheek, again.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Bathing Venus-Piece of the Week

More widely known as The Crouching Venus. 
This study, after the antique and was cast mid 19th century.
The Crouching Venus has been excavated on numerous different Roman sites, in Italy and in France. There are slightly differing versions. But one thing that never changes is the fact that the study captures Venus at her bath, startled, and she very often is depicted with her arm slightly raised to cover her breasts.
 She has been an inspiration to sculptors and artists for centuries.
There are, among others, examples in The Louvre Paris, The Uffizi in Florence and The British Museum has an example.
She is Hellenistic in style and has influenced so many artists such as Rubens who painted an 'Allegory' 1612-13, after he saw The Lely Venus then in The Gonzaga collection at Mantua.

This example bears its foundry seal.
Bronze. Beautiful Chocolate Patina.
 34cm high