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Launch of the London Festival of Architecture

I joined in at Number One Poultry, on a warm May evening, for the launch of the London Festival of Architecture.

The theme this year is Memory, which is pretty good for a Paolozzi centred walk where memory predominates.

The walk on Sunday 25 June 2017 starts as before at the British Library, and will finish with Sunday Lunch at a well-known London restaurant, Le Caprice, where Paolozzi used to eat, and they have some of his work.

Rooftop garden was very busy. Views were grand.

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Missing – Wanted

– information concerning the whereabouts of the sculpture removed from High Holborn in September 2012 and sold at auction to an undisclosed buyer, of Eduardo Paolozzi as Hephaestus, Greek god of blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, fire and pizza delivery.

Before and after: The Artist as Hephaestus shown in situ 1987 -2012 at 36-38 High Holborn and how the building looks, remodelled and renumbered 39, today.

Image source: www.thelondonmagazine.org/article/the-cornucopias-of-our-time/

Image source: Chris Partridge, http://ornamentalpassions.blogspot.co.uk/2010_12_01_archive.html

I looked in vain for this sculpture, which I had seen many times before,  when I followed the Paolozzi Walk along High Holborn, but it had been whisked away and all traces covered over.

A chat with Robert Elms

I was delighted to have a quick interview with Robert Elms on BBC London radio on Saturday morning 25 March, the day before the walk, and describe some of the background to the man Eduardo Paolozzi, and the route we are planning to take tomorrow.

I love the Robert Elms show – I think it’s his sense of the span of London as a place where he belongs that I admire – it’s part of the reason I’m walking round the whole city on the London Spiral, to catch up with his breadth.

I said that the works of Paolozzi were scattered too widely from Kew in the West to the Vulcan at Royal Dock in the East, for the walk to take them all in, but there were several in central London, and Robert asked if the walk included his murals at Tottenham Court Road tube – which it does. We will dip down into the station to see the newly restored and energised tile work there, bring your Oyster card.

We’ll also go by the missing sculpture – more on that later – then carry on to Marcus Campbell’s shop. Campbell knew Paolozzi and offered to sell some of his work, plus he has catalogues from exhibitions past, so an interesting stop. We’ll have a refreshment break at Albion Bankside and the chance to taste some Paolozzi beer, straight from the Edinburgh Beer Factory.

Revisit Paolozzi’s sculptures …

The Whitechapel Gallery is hosting an exhibition of Eduardo Paolozzi’s work, from 16 February to 14 May 2017.

I’m interested to see their exhibition and also re-acquaint myself with his public sculpture in London, of which there is a smattering, and so I conceived of a WALK, linking these up and culminating in a tour of the gallery – a psychogeographic walk no less, connecting each place where Paolozzi lived or worked or left a permanent art work.

It turns out many are not so permanent, as several have vanished from their initial locations, as we shall see.

Actually I don’t massively like Paolozzi’s work, or that of those who are ranked alongside him like Giacometti, Caro, Ernst, nevertheless I can see that he was following – possibly from the front – a path of art production which pretty much characterises what I think of as twentieth century sculpture – big, blocky, machiney, obtuse, greek goddy, lumps of bronze; hard to love. The Whitechapel exhibition focuses less on his sculpture and more on his print work and collage, so this walk brings some of the scale that he was commissioned to make. We’ll see on the sculptures traces of the objects and decorations that he hoarded in his studio – he was kind of child-like in what he gathered and kept, a rich bedding soil for creative work.

The walk begins at the statue of Isaac Newton mapping the universe. This is a fantastic sculpture, making me wish that Paolozzi had collaborated more with painterly artists like Blake – can you imagine Paolozzi versions of Turner’s Mallard train or Frans Hal’s Cavalier? They would be amazing. From there we’ll check the nearby piss-pauvre Piscator, then head to the newly-reclaimed and recleaned mosaic murals at Tottenham Court Road tube station. We’ll see some maquettes, which are for sale, and a reinterpretation from a psychogeographic perspective of the Head of Leonardo da Vinci.

There is a pre-walk visit to the Head, which is now at the Design Museum in Kensington.