Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Unfinished Pier … a romantic longing … at the De La Warr Pavilion ...



A design ready to be created … to be added to a futuristic new building in 1935 … yet …. the wait goes on – a dream that was never fulfilled … too expensive to be fulfilled, while Europe was in disarray … the draft remains to this day on paper …

Photocopy of the brochure advertising this exhibition


… but an artist, Roy Voss, has reinterpreted ‘the pier’ as a new exhibition … to look at it is perhaps not immediately very inspiring … but if one is an artist, or an architect, or a carpenter … I am certain it  resonates …




My iphone pic of the exhibition -
NB the white line: mentioned below



… when I went there was no information obviously available – a table with books … not much good to me … no articles that I could see – yes a wall board with some explanation … and a video situated outside the gallery was available to watch.  I was struggling …





… perseverance pays off … a two page article was found, a brochure of future and present events, which highlighted the pier, was available outside (near the video) … as I was leaving.


Front of this art deco building

This has been addressed – and I’m sure information will be available to all visitors.  The exhibit was fairly precarious … so a white line had been drawn round it to give a barrier over which one should not cross: again not very obvious … until each visitor is called back from stepping over the mark … then the reason is given –makes sense …





Columnar tulip trunks 
… yet another anomaly – the videos posted by the de la Warr Pavilion show people walking amongst the structure … ah! well – artistic licence I guess.

I hope it holds up … as it is being exhibited in Blackpool and then over on the east coast in Berwick-upon-Tweed … longish journeys: (325 miles and 185 miles respectively).



The sculpture is made from the North American tulip tree, also known as canary whitewood … it is:

-        38 metres (125 feet) long x 3 metres (10 feet) tall

-        There’s a roof type cover at the beginning of the pier – this measures 3m x 4m (10 feet x 13 feet). 

This part is push-jointed – which allows the piece to be constructed without screws or nails.

-        2,344 pieces of wood make up the structure

-        5 moulds were used to shape the curved pieces

-        The wood has been painted with casein paint … this is derived from milk casein (milk protein) – a fast-drying, water soluble medium used by artists.

Casein paint has been used since ancient Egyptian times as a form of distemper, and is still used today.  (Distemper is an early form of whitewash).

-        The sculpture took around 18 months to construct …


A close up of the sculpture structure


It’s a fascinating piece of art to see in situ – near where the pier was intended to be constructed in the 1930s …which can be clearly seen in the ‘About history’ of the De La Warr Pavilion … it’s fascinating to watch – not long … 6 minutes …


… the video describes the construction of the building … the steel frame was very innovative ‘hitting the headlines’ in the Welding Industry magazine …




The auditorium - with the 'cup' acoustic
ceiling


… as too the suspended ceiling … made out of plaster impregnated gauze … giving an amazing acoustic system.  The suspended ceiling is a remarkable piece of engineering – an excellent example of a modernist public building in this country – as shown in the video.




A poster graphic of the
de la Warr Pavilion 1930s


The Duke and Duchess of York visited for the Grand Opening on 12 December 1935 … within a year they would be King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother to be) …





The flag 'Wave' on the front of the building

It is another fascinating exhibition … where one (meaning me!) had to uncover relevant pointers to bring the exhibit to light – not being an artist … this can be challenging … but worthwhile in order to construct a post.


I don’t know how many of you remember a previous article I wrote about the “A Secret Service … Art, Compulsion, Concealment” – an exhibition on Pietro Antonio Narducci held at this Art Deco style contemporary arts centre – where I’d remembered the exhibition for seven and a half years … and wanted to chase it down – I did … I found my answer.


View from the Pavilion looking to where
the pier would have been


It’s interesting what one learns via blogging – I delve into subjects far more deeply than I used to … just to finish this post off … Herbrand Sackville, 9th Earl De La Warr, a committed socialist, after whom the building is named …


Another poster for the
de la Warr Pavilion



… ensured that the site would have an entertainment hall to seat at least 1,500 people; a 200-seat restaurant; a reading room; and a lounge … it was to be a public building for this socially minded Earl – and would be built in the Modernist style.





Looking through the sculpture towards
the English Channel


Now it has been given a Grade 1 Listed Building status and restored appropriately … it is a magnificent space for a contemporary arts centre … with plenty of exhibitions, activities and events being staged. 



This where the romantic longing for a pier still exists … but now satisfied for a few months – before the exhibition goes north … the dream will live on …




de la Warr Pavilion - history ... see here: a building tour

Ray Voss' exhibition 'The Way Things Are' 

Pietro Antonio Narducci and his "Sacra Mantra" - my post ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

58 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you for the digging and delving you do to ferret out additional information. I am endlessly fascinated by carpentry which doesn't use screws or nails and had never heard the term push-jointed before. I am now racking my brain (without success) for what I did know it as...

dolorah said...

This was supposed to be an actual pier? Hmm. So many projects seem to get left unfinished. I'm sure it would have been awesome.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I can definitely see it as a beautiful modern space for exhibitions. That acoustic ceiling is really interesting in the auditorium.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

The pier is so much a feature of our more recent heritage. I enjoy visiting the ones that remain and hearing a bit about their history; not sure that an exhibition about their design would hold my attention for long, though!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Interesting when projects go south or in a different direction.

Out on the prairie said...

A look at what may have been, a different piece ofart

Joanne said...

very interesting post. I would like to see the exhibits and try to figure it all out too. Looks like it would give neat shadows.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I'm glad you were able to hunt out the info you wanted. I think piers are fascinating, just for the challenge of trying to build it. Plymouth had a pier that was destroyed in WWII (I think), but Paignton still has there's - endless childhood weekends spent on that one!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC - thank you ... if I'm interested I want to find out more, or to satisfy my own mind - which I may write about or may not ...

I think push-jointed sounds a little like hose pipe connections ... but that may not be right - I couldn't find out anything on push joints that made me able to explain it more easily.

@ Donna - this is a re-interpretation by the artist ... but in the late 1930s money was tight ... perhaps a good thing it wasn't built as the Hotel featured in the video was bombed in WW2 - so the pier could well have been wiped out anyway ...

@ Elizabeth - it puts on very avant garde exhibitions and events ... while the immediately catchment area perhaps doesn't fall into that category of visitor ...

The building of the acoustic ceiling was fascinating to see - in the video ... an innovative idea at the time ...

@ Mike - yes, piers are a major feature of our heritage - though after ours was so badly burnt a few years ... hasn't been restored to its former glory.

This was an interesting exhibition - and I wasn't there for long ... but I guess if one was into design, art, architecture and woodworking then I'm sure there's fascinating aspects to look at ... this looked very fragile. But I enjoyed my visit!

@ Alex - some get built and some don't ... this one never got further than the drawing board ...

@ Steve - yes both ... a look at what might have been, and of something different and worth considering ...

@ Joanne - it is certainly very interesting ... and I'd probably like to be there with someone who could give some further information ... so I could understand it better ... I'm sorry you can't get over!

@ Annalisa - so I was right about the possibility of bombing- sad about Plymouth ... I know think of building one with the tides each day.

Paignton looks to be an interesting pier - which is still standing and operational ... what a wonderful place to play on as a child ...

Cheers to you all - the sea always beckons ... walk on water, so passengers don't get their feet wet when getting in and out of paddle steamers or early pleasure cruises ... or on occasions trips over the Channel ... thank you for commenting - Hilary

Rhodesia said...

Another brilliant post. As you say blogging makes you delve into all sorts of interesting details and histories. I have learn more about France (and other places) since blogging that I knew in a lifetime before!! Take care, cheers, Diane

Chatty Crone said...

I think that was an interesting post. You did do your research. I have mixed feeling - I realize it's value - but seems to me they could do something with it too.

RO said...

This took some real creative thinking to bring this to fruition, and so many new to me design pieces. Your research skills are pretty excellent! Hugs...RO

Anabel Marsh said...

I love the pavilion - there’s such a thrusting modernity about it after the solidity and flourishes of Victorian and Edwardian architecture. People must have had a real sense of a new era. It’s yesterday’s future!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Diane - I find it amazing how much blogging has opened my eyes to all sorts of things ... and your blog opens my eyes up to France and I see more of Southern Africa - which I love too ...

@ Sandie - the pier here ... is an interpretation of what would have been - the structure if built would have needed to withstand the sea - so much more solid ... but I rather like the white-lightness of this construction ...

@ RO - I'm glad you could appreciate the art-work ... it's fascinating to see how artists can interpret work. I enjoyed digging out the information ...

@ Anabel - the Pavilion is certainly an artwork in its own being ... very avant garde and very 'moderne'. I'm sure the people of Bexhill were captivated by the new style and all the media attention they'd have had - the engineers, welders and the soon to be King and Queen ...

Thank you ... so glad the design appeals to you in a variety of ways ... cheers Hilary

Truedessa said...

I saw a tulip tree for the first time a few years ago in Canada. Too bad the project didn't go as planned.

Silvia Villalobos said...

Wow, quite a lot went into making this exhibit happen. Amazing looking.
I'm so glad you went into deep research for this -- blogging is a blessing for the curious mind, isn't it. I sure learned a whole lot just by reading here. Thank you, Hilary.

Jo said...

So why don't they build the pier? Cost I suppose. Interesting exhibition.

Blogoratti said...

Many things and such projects get started and never get completed. A mirror of our own lives perhaps. Greetings!

Liz A. said...

Sad that the pier never got finished, but understandable considering the times in which it was built.

Kay G. said...

Sue, we do wear hats in our winter time. It lasts for about one week. :-)

Kim Blades said...

Hi Hilary. Another fascinating post that brings back the 'good old days' when such care and pride were taken in art, construction and most things in life. When quality not quantity was the keyword. I wonder if the milk protein based paint on the pier made it smell sour in the weeks after the painting was done? Lovely, interesting post Hilary. Kim x

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Truedessa - oh are tulip trees up in Canada too ... sometimes things just don't happen - this was quite an expensive project ... and WW2 was on the horizon.

@ Silvia - yes ... the artist and his carpentry colleagues worked really hard with it ... see the videos brings it to life. It was certainly interesting to see.

Yes blogging does make us look into things ... and once again I'm glad I searched around for answers and to find out a bit more ... delighted you enjoyed it.

@ Jo - well originally it was too expensive, then the War and post war austerity ...and it just never happened ...

@ Blogoratti - yes, certainly lots of projects get started and don't get completed ... seeing the re-interpretative exhibit has been interesting ...

oh! wise words: a mirror of our own lives - too too true ...

@ Liz - yes it was sad the pier wasn't built ... but prudently the money was not spent ...

@ Kay - I bet you only wear hats for a short time ... warmer down where you are ...

@ Kim - the casein is fast drying ... and has been used since Egyptian times, so I don't think it can 'pong' for very long ... as once dried it's dry.

The workmanship here was quite extraordinary - both in the artistic realisation, the use of the thin straight type of wood, and how it was created ... care and pride as you say.

It was beautiful to look at ... and that envisioning of the pier reaching out into eternity across the sea ...

Thanks so much to you all - I'm glad this exhibit resonates ... I hope it is appreciated as it does its tour around ... cheers Hilary

Elsie Amata said...

What I find fascinating is that the artist saw the pier and thought, "That would make a great piece for me!" It just goes to show that anything can inspire anyone at anytime. I love it. :)

Have a beachy week!
Elsie

Ally Bean said...

This is a most interesting exhibition. I'm fascinated by the building's name. A committed socialist, you say? And those war posters are so pretty and straightforward in a style that I'd like to see come back into fashion. Also, never knew tulip wood was canary whitewood. The things I learn here. Thanks.

Jacqui Murray said...

I'm constantly amazed by how others see things. There's no way to generalize is there. This is fascinating.

Murees Dupé said...

At least they brought the pier to life in some way. So they got to see part of the vision. Those are a lot of pieces though. You always have the best trips. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Madeleine Sara said...

Gosh a lot of work. Wbat a shame it never was completed. I love the art work on the De La Warr Pavillion poster, so like the London Underground posters.

Sandra Cox said...

As always, another fascinating post, full of great historical info, especially about Queen Elizabeth:)
Don't you love piers?

M Pax said...

I can imagine the dream the original planner once had, so I find the sculpture an intriguing homage.

Emily Bloomquist said...

How nice that there is an exhibition for the unfinished pier. I had to laugh about the people milling about the structure in the video. I tried to watch it but it is not loading right now for me - I'll try again tomorrow. Would love to see it. Thanks, Hilary, for another fascinating read.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Elsie – you’re so right … it’s fascinating to see where people’s ideas take them … this is an amazing piece of art …

@ Ally – yes … all true. Bexhill is an interesting town and the gallery within this contemporary arts centre offers us visions into other worlds … something very different and in keeping with its avant-garde style.

These types of posters are now around in various guises – they so cleverly depict the area they’re describing or advertising … I love them. I have to say I knew nothing about Tulip Wood … so that was interesting too …

@ Jacqui – you’re right … we do think we can put things into place – yet of course someone will see things differently … and obviously this exhibition is highlighting that – thanks for reminding us all we’re individuals …

@ Murees – the town can now see what might have been, while the art work gives us that greater visionary view of the pier stretching out into the haze of the English Channel … I’m glad I visited this exhibition.

@ Madeleine – yes … I wonder how they’re going to transport it north … I’d love to know! It was probably a good thing it wasn’t built – as I expect it’d have been bombed in WW2 … the hotel next door was bombed, so the de la Warr Pavilion had a close shave.

These posters are always delightful to see – just so succinct in their approach to the subject … I love them.

@ Sandra – thank you so much … I’m delighted people enjoy being here. It was interesting to know that it was the Duke of York and his wife who opened the Exhibition Centre … before they became King and Queen …
Some piers are stunning … sadly some have gone from our shores …

@ Mary – yes an homage it is to the original planner and designer … but this sculpture does interpret what might have been …

@ Emily – I too wanted to get closer to the structure – but could see how fragile it is … and was pulled away! I hope the video loads … let me know if not and I’ll try and find another way to find it …

Thanks everyone – so delighted you’ve enjoyed seeing this avant-garde sculptural art work … we are all individuals aren’t we … so see things at different levels – cheers to you all - Hilary

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I've spent many happy hours on piers in my lifetime, and it's a shame that one was never built. Its design is quite modernistic for the '30s. Perhaps some rich benefactors will one day put up the money to actually build it.

I never heard of distemper as a forerunner of whitewash. Interesting. I hear "distemper," and I think rabies. Maybe the association came because of the white foaming at the mouth?

Have a super weekend. (No mouth-foaming!)

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Hilary, I love the picture of the Art Deco Building. And I like piers a lot.

Sherry Ellis said...

A very interesting exhibition. Thanks for doing the extra research and sharing it with us.

likeschocolate said...

Oh wow! Thanks for sharing! So very interesting. Have a great weekend.

Nilanjana Bose said...

'It’s interesting what one learns via blogging – I delve into subjects far more deeply than I used to'

So true! Thank you for the delving you do, it's super interesting always.

scarlett clay said...

Hi Hilary! It does look like a wonderful exhibition space with lots of natural light. And what a task to take that type of exhibit on travel over hundreds of miles northward. I'm glad you got to see it before its departure (and not overstepping the boundary too far!). Thank you for sharing your trip! Have a blessed weekend~ Scarlett

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan - sadly I'm not that enamoured with piers ... but I'd be really happy if we went back to the good old days for them. Now they do seem to be reinventing themselves ... which is fun to read about - those piers are too far away from here for me to visit.

You had me look up 'distemper' and see there's various explanations ... a viral/ bacterial infection ... and others ... and really I'm no wiser without taking a history degree ... so I'll leave 'the disturbance of humour' to be for now ... ! My degree will take me a few hours ...

@ Rachna - thanks so much ... it is a stylish building isn't it ... while piers look aesthetically pleasant ... good to see you ...

@ Sherry - well I learnt more about one of our iconic buildings on the south coast - the de la Warr building - which is good to have researched ...

@ Likes Chocolate - glad you enjoyed the post, while thanks for visiting and leaving a comment ...

@ Nila - appreciate your thoughts ... it's good to know bloggers are happy to come visiting! - what makes the blog worth while writing ...

@ Scarlett - so good to see you ... I can see this sort of exhibition would interest you a lot, with your artistic knowledge and love. I'm not sure how they're going to get the exhibit up north ... I'd love to know how it will happen ... I might find out in a few years time ... But so pleased to see you and to know you enjoyed this exhibit.

Thanks everyone - fascinating to know you've enjoyed this pier exhibit ... enjoy your weekends - cheers Hilary

Sandra Cox said...

Have a spooktacular weekend, Hilary:)

A Heron's View said...

Just as well this 1935 pier stayed on the drawing board, otherwise it would probably gone the same way as the old pier has.
Down into the sea!

bazza said...

Interesting how the building looks so Art Deco and yet so modern at the same time!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s contemplative Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Maria said...

You got me thinking about the pier. I think it would be fabulous if it got built somewhere. I really think people are hankering after nostalgia, and vintage. I for one would love to see it, it's a shame National Lottery money couldn't be used to build it and have everything on it of that era - a museum of sorts, that would be very different.

Rhonda Albom said...

Hmm. The artwork looks like scaffolding to me. The building is a bit more impressive though.

bookworm said...

I am amazed at the amount of research you put into many of your posts. Tulip trees (I assume that what they are calling a tulip tree is what we call a tulip tree in the States) are one of our native trees, related to the magnolia, with a lovely flower. Not that common where I am, I don't think, but it is hardy where I live. And, milk paint used to be used years ago - I think, in some limited ways, it still is. Enjoyed this post very much. The Unknown Journey Ahead agingonthespectrum.blogspot.com

Marja said...

Here you see a lot of Art Deco buildings as well in nz. I quite like the style. The exhibition looks promising and very intriguing. Would be nice it the pier comes back It gives an extra dimension

Nick Wilford said...

Well, that was certainly fascinating. I'd heard of the pavilion, but not the pier-that-never-was. Great nugget of history.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sandra – thank you …

@ Mel – Bexhill never had a pier … Hastings pier is now in a state of the unknown money situation, our fire in Eastbourne didn’t ruin the pier but burnt the Victorian ballroom to its end – we’re waiting for this to be replaced … when?! While Brighton’s piers – one has almost completely vanished, the other survives onwards … the sea is certainly not kind to buildings etc …

@ Bazza – it’s a very interesting contemporary building – which is being used imaginatively …

@ Maria – I think it’s unlikely the pier will ever be built … there are others we can visit and be nostalgic about. Bexhill is not at the centre of large conurbation and I don’t think a case for lottery money could be made … I’m sure the Pavilion has help though … which gives us a wonderful history of the time … and some very avant garde exhibitions …

@ Rhonda – it’s the artist’s interpretation of a ‘light pier’ stretching out into the sea of the English Channel … his creative imagination has been allowed to roam …

@ Bookworm – I just like to find things out – yes this tulip tree is your American one. Well we know milk paint is still used – it was here … obviously it still has its uses … I’m so glad you enjoyed the post …

@ Marja – we have quite a few Art Deco buildings here … but the Pavilion is quite iconic being on the coast. I hope the exhibition will bear fruit for the children and friends who visit and can see what inspired the artist. The pier itself won’t happen … an expense that would be costly to maintain …

@ Nick – I hadn’t realised the pier was never built til I read the post, though it makes sense … bearing in mind the times (1930s) … but the other awards I thought were interesting – the steel frame and acoustic ceiling …

Thanks so much for visiting – I keep imagining this white pier stretching out into the turquoise sea … cheers Hilary

mail4rosey said...

Such a shame when something so lovely isn't brought to fruition. It's awesome that you took the time to dig in and find enough information to bring it to light for us. I almost always learn something new when I visit you. :) Have a happy day!

P. J. Lazos said...

I don't think it matters that the pier wasn't made since it's architectural stunning the way it is, like sacred geometry all overlain one on top of the other. Thanks for sharing, Hilary!

DMS said...

Well all your hard work paid off for us! You really helped me to see the vision and understand the sculpture. I hope it travels well- it looks like something that would be quite difficult to move (but I am sure they have ways). :)

Thanks for sharing!
~Jess

Arlee Bird said...

Some of the biggest aspirations of mankind are mere folly. Interesting to hear this story, but it kind of reminds me of some of those "bridge to nowhere" stories we sometimes hear.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Rosey - it was a shame the original pier couldn't be built - but it is wonderful that Roy Voss has been able to re-interpret the design of the pier for us to see as an exhibit today ... it was an interesting decision to visit and find out more - I always open my own eyes ...

@ PJ - certainly if one can see the exhibited structure in the light the way the artist wanted us to see it ... it is stunning isn't it ... I'm so glad I was able to bring that aspect to life for you ...

@ Jess - oh I'm delighted to read this ... thank you ... it's always difficult to interpret something as special as this to other bloggers ... but it's always worth the try - and thankfully fellow readers appreciate what I'm trying to do ... show different aspects of life ...

Re the moving of the exhibit - I'd love to know how it'll be done - at some stage I hope I'll find out ...

@ Lee - this wasn't a folly back in the 1930s - it was the scene of the times ... just sadly it became the pier to no-where - yet 80 years later ... it is brought to life through Roy's interpretation ... which was wonderful to see ...

Cheers and thanks for visiting - and comments - and for your understanding of the exhibition with Roy's intention to put it back on the map ... Hilary

Connie Arnold said...

Good for you and your persistence discovering all this and sharing with us such interesting information. I haven't been by in a while, and it's a pleasure to catch up with some of your enjoyable and informative posts!

Linda said...

Yes, you do know how to dig and delve! I can relate to learning a lot through blogging, as in this last month of posts.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Connie - how lovely to see you here ... am so glad you enjoy coming back and reading some of the posts and then for taking the time to commenting ...

@ Linda - it's fascinating how much we can learn through blogging ... and I enjoy looking things up ...

Thanks to you both for coming by and commenting ... I'm just glad to know you enjoy the 'digging'! Cheers Hilary

Keith's Ramblings said...

With the pavilion sitting just at the end of my road, I take full advantage of everything it offers from exhibitions and theatre, to rock concerts and beer! The connection between Voss's work and the pier that never was, makes what appears a rather uninspiring show actually really interesting!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Keith - lovely place to live ... that waterfront is interesting too - I've loved being here ... high up above the reef in Eastbourne. Lucky you having the de la Warr Pavilion on your doorstep - still I'd better not complain - as there's so much going on here in Eastbourne ...

Yes taking into account Voss' interpretation of the 'pier that never was' has made the exhibition interesting and as I was able to dig a bit further re the Pavilion itself back in the 1930s ... that helped give it vision. Also knowing we used to holiday here in the 1960s ... brings a bit more resonance to the whole ... thanks for the comment - cheers Hilary

Kay G. said...

I need to do a post about our native tulip tree! It is a gorgeous tree and I remember reading that the Native Americans used the wood to build canoes.