Shuttered and derelict, in need of some repair. Somewhere in a field in Lincolnshire but I am no longer sure.
Shuttered and derelict, in need of some repair. Somewhere in a field in Lincolnshire but I am no longer sure.
This drypoint print is of Isokon Flats, also known as Lawn Road Flats, which is on Lawn Road, Hampstead, London NW3. It is a reinforced concrete block of flats, designed by Canadian engineer Wells Coates for Molly and Jack Pritchard.
The designs for the flats were developed between 1929–1932 and opened on 9 July 1934. The building originally included 24 studio flats, eight one-bedroom flats, staff quarters, a kitchen and a large garage. The Pritchards lived in a one-bedroom penthouse flat at the top. Plywood was used extensively in the fittings of the apartments. Jack Pritchard was the Marketing Manager for the Estonian plywood company Venesta between 1926 and 1936, while he also operated the Isokon Furniture Company, originally in partnership with Wells Coates.
Residents also included Bauhaus émigrés Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, and László Moholy-Nagy, architects Egon Riss and Arthur Korn, Agatha Christie (between 1941 and 1947) and her husband Max Mallowan, art historian Adrian Stokes, the author Nicholas Monsarrat, the archaeologist V. Gordon Childe, modernist architect Jacques Groag and his wife textile designer Jacqueline Groag. The communal kitchen was converted into the Isobar restaurant in 1937, to a design by Marcel Breuer and F.R.S. Yorke. The flats and the Isobar became known as a centre for socialist intellectual and artistic life in Hampstead and regular visitors to the Isobar included nearby residents Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson.
With the outbreak of World War II, the Isokon furniture company ceased trading but was restarted in 1963. In 1969 the building was sold to the New Statesman magazine and the Isobar converted into flats. The building was sold to Camden London Borough Council in 1972 and gradually deteriorated until the 1990s when it was abandoned and lay derelict for several years.
Avanti Architects, a practice which specialises in the refurbishment of Modernist buildings, refurbished the building in 2003 for the Notting Hill Housing Association (NHHA) who purchased it from Camden. During the restoration, the services were completely renewed, heating and insulation upgraded and the later overcoat of render removed from the exterior. The building was designated a Grade I listed structure, placing it amongst the most significant historic buildings in the UK.
In my drawing, from which the drypoint was produced, I included the soft forms of the trees to contrast with the lines of this modernist architecture.
The link below is to a Contemporary Artist Website I joined in 2001. It shows some of the projects I have been involved in since 2001 and also examples of drawings, paintings, and prints and other creative production since then. There is also a resume too. In the late 1990s I went to a talk by Artist, Bridget Riley, at Tate Britain. In her talk, and I may not remember word for word, I recall she said that an Artists development is not necessarily linear, but is a constant refinement of a concept or technique or a combination of them. It reminds me of the notion that an artist grows as an individual grows, hopefully emotionally and technically over time and this process is a refinement and a growing appreciation of nuance .
The website below has become an inventory and archive for my artistic practice and I do think of Bridget Rileys comments. For me it is also a diary, so a particular series of artwork is most definitely connected with time and place, and reminds me that my work is an autobiography.
Here in 2020 I continue to add to the content.
I have written about ‘And The House Watches On’ in this blog previously. It is a recently published book that came about through a collaboration between poet Neil Elder and myself. It tells the story of West House, a former manor house in Pinner, Middlesex over almost 200 years through poems by Neil Elder and Drawings and prints by myself. A creative response to the story of the house which is now a cafe, exhibition and event space next to a Museum housing a collection of the work of William Heath Robinson. During the course of research for my drawings and prints for the book I referred to a number of sources which I used to inspire my work and the resulting drawings and prints became my response to Neils poetry and the history of West House and its grounds. Here are some of my notes next to the images. In his blog www.neilelderpoetry.wordpress.com Neil has also written about the background and detail of our project and a copy of the book can be purchased there.
This is a drypoint print* which is developed from an archive photograph in the public domain. In intended that the print had a very fragmentary appearance which appeals to the sense of history of the book. It also depicts the lake because of the house reflection. The House is printed almost in ‘white’ silhouette, with only hint of windows and architectural detail, with the lake in the foreground.
…. the empty house in silhouette stands sentry
A silent house
This is a pencil drawing developed from research of images of male figures from the late Georgian period in period clothing. Also it is the product into the research on the shape and design of the blunderbuss ……… the master of the house has been gone all day
took his gun and went to meet a man;
This is a pencil drawing developed from researching images of Victorian women in mourning. I was thinking of the novel by Susan hill, ‘the Woman in Black’ ( a ghost story in the 19th century tradition) and its Victorian sensibility. I wanted to show the Victorian austere and melancholic approach to mourning and draw upon the sense of a ghost like figure as inspired by Susan Hills frightening ghost story.
Everybody knows the lady in black
Away day at home
This is a Drypoint print from an archive photograph of the house and staff. It’s a very poignant image but also shows the rigidity and formality of pose even though they are supposed to be relaxing. The drypoint gives a more degraded and fragmented image as a sort of memory, a documentation of a passed event
With their people away
the girls have been lording it up
Dreaming the impossible
This is a Pencil drawing of the Heath Robinson museum developed from my own sketches and photographs. The Museum was built in 2016 and I was the inaugural artist in residence at the museum and absorbed myself in the extensive collection of William Heath Robinsons work.
….beneath the sloping roof
of a temperature controlled museum
This is a drypoint print of the poppies in the War memorial in the quiet room of Daisy’s café on the ground floor of West House. This is based on my own on site sketches, observations and photographs. The poppies are the memorial symbol of lives lost in war. ‘the book’ referred to in Neil’s Poem is housed in a glass case next to the poppies which are depicted in the drawing
This is a pencil drawing of the lake next to West House iced over many winters ago probably in the early 2000s. I also made a drypoint print of this image which is in the book.
This image is based on my own photographs of the lake when it was iced over. I chose not to draw the figures of the schoolboys referred to in Neil’s poem. My drawing is the setting and Neils work evokes the action, which is consistent with the idea that my drawings are not illustrations of Neils work but that they act as prompts to my own depictions and memories and responses to this place. It gives our work a specific and universal feel at the same time.
This is an ink drawing of a derelict West House developed from a photograph I took sometime in the 1990s. It depicts blacked out windows, and a peopleless empty silent setting and the cypress casting a shadow across the empty building. Neils poem evokes an empty boarded up building gradually degrading. The building in my depiction is the vacant and derelict west house which was so for much of the 1990s.
Priya and Pamela
This is a drypoint print made from a photograph of an Anderson shelter in a book on Pinner. There is some evidence of there being an Anderson shelter at the now junction of the memorial park car park entrance. I am unsure whether there was one in the Pinner Memorial park itself.
inside the Anderson
This is a pencil drawing of West House in 2020 from my own on site sketches and photographs. To the right in the drawing is part of the Museum.
in the shade of a cypress tree
that stands like a sentry
outside a memorial reborn
‘And The House Watches On’ can be purchased at
The images are the copyright of Charlotte Harker
*drypoint printmaking – A drypoint is a form of intaglio printing where the image is incised into a surface and the incisions hold the ink. The image is then transferred to the paper when the inked plate is passed through an etching press. Other forms of intaglio include Etching and Engraving
The path is a route. A route that leads somewhere or to a dead end. In terms of the built environment it is of course a man made structure, to direct on a certain route around an obstacle or natural land form for example. There is a tendency to read the path in terms of a destination. Or at least there was. Perhaps now our thinking will be more in terms of the now rather than the future. When you think of a path in terms of a destination then of course you are instantly thinking of the future. What is around that next corner? Beyond those trees I cannot see so I walk the path to find out. We know that no one truly knows what kind of path they are on, and it occurs to me that they never really did. I went to Croatia many years ago and this drawing in ink depicts a coastal path near Dubrovnik.
Empty streets, meaning a street scene where a people are absent. Well for as long as I can remember that has been a characteristic of my drawings, paintings, photography. Something about the attractiveness of quiet and silence I suppose. At this time it has become normality. If it wasn’t for the backdrop and the reason for this silence then it would be exclusively calming and therapeutic.
via 11 April 2020
This ink drawing is part of an ongoing project of reminding myself of the remarkable time I had in Granada, Andalucia in 2000. I stayed in Granada for about 4 months, during which time I painted. I responded to the architecture of the Albaycin, the old quarter of Granada. I painted abstract paintings on panels which reflected the colours and textures of the wall surfaces. The 20th Century Spanish artist Antonio Tapies was much in my mind at that time. His textured and gritty paintings made so much more sense to me during my stay in Granada. I still produce images inspired by Granada, through, as with the image below, a more figurative prism.
I have been working on drawings to accompany the poetry of Neil Elder and the book ‘And The House Watches On’ is the result. There are ten drawings which accompany the ten poems in the book. The book is our creative response to this former private house in grounds which are now the Pinner Memorial Park and home to the Heath Robinson Museum, in Pinner, North West London.
Neils poems and my drawings are a filter through which we see West House. I have lived near the house and park for over 25 years and drawing the house and its grounds has always been a part of my work. Now here is a place for this work. This series is a combination of drypoint prints, pencil and ink drawings which are responses to Neils poems by using a word or phrase as a starting point, rather than a visual description of Neils writing. Often they are a setting in which the human dramas can take place. Here is the front cover. The drawing is West House in 2020.
Copies of the book can be obtained by visiting https://neilelderpoetry.wordpress.com
Writing the last entry prompted to me to finish the drawing of the lake.
The roadside and the partly collapsed wooden slatted fence and the mountain peaks in the distance. Northern Morocco near Tetouan I think which is about 60km east south east of Tangier.