Three things converged recently…
We went to London to start with. Haven’t been for ages and it was so good to be back, wandering around the city. Hope to be there again in the summer.
Then I began to read the book I’d been given at Christmas, Helene Hanff’s 84, Charing Cross Road. It’s a lovely book…well, books really. The volume – the one I have – is made up of the original 84 – a collection of correspondences between Hanff in New York and her antiquarian book dealer at Marks & Co Ltd, at the title’s address – and her follow up, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, an account of her first visit to London, a city she spent years longing to see.
Both are fabulous to read. The first follows a touching and ultimately tragic friendship between the author and the staff of the bookshop. It’s funny and super-charming and a bit sad. In The Duchess, we accompany Hanff, at a mature stage of her life, on her adventure in and around the city. Her fascination for London soon becomes infectious as you experience a view of the city that only a visitor can have.
That’s two things…and neither are the point of this post. The third thing, and the point, is this: Buildings of London, published by Artifice, is another wanderer’s view of London. Roger FitzGerald is an architect at one of the country’s top firms ADP. Working in London, he clearly has a love for it that, though different to Hanff’s in nature, is at least on a similar scale; it’s clear from the pages of his book, that FitzGerald shares a fascination for the city.
The architect’s eye is obviously at work here but what struck me is how it takes the compositions of paint and collage – FitzGerald uses fragments of printed matter in amongst his brushwork – beyond physical structures and into the realm of ambience; they capture the sensation of each place. Paintings of places we visited just a few weeks ago, take me back there. In paintings of others places, I felt a sense of what it must actually be like. They made me want to be there.
Just like Helene Hanff’s book did.
You can get a copy of Buildings of London from you know where.