Here’s a tearsheet from the Economist’s Intelligent Life Magazine – a portrait of author Jim Crace visiting his favourite museum – the tiny Penlee House in Cornwall. Charming man, charming place
Britain has a housing crisis. The Queen’s speech yesterday underlined the current government’s commitment to develop Ebbsfleet as a Garden City – an idea ironically propounded in the early twentieth century by the Socialist-leaning Ebenezer Howard in Letchworth.
A year or so ago, I wrote a piece for a special edition of the German Magazine, Brand Eins (Brand Eins Wissen) where I traced the history of the British planned communities from the earliest industrial worker’s housing to Prince Charles’ architectural monstrosity, Poundbury. The piece, The Strange Death of the British Utopia (or how Britain lives in her own past) can be found on the writing section of my website here.
What a shame. It seems that production of the Ambassador, the first car to be made in India, has been halted. Hindustan Motors said it had suspended work at its plant outside the city of Kolkata, blaming weak demand and financing problems. There was always something reassuringly sturdy about bouncing along Indian roads in one. Never the most comfortable of cars but you could always reckon that a roadside mechanic would be able to bash, bend or replace something that had broken… Here’s a frame of a garland hanging from a mirror in one I hired in Tamil Nadu a few years ago…
I’m delighted that the V&A in London will be hosting a new show of MF Husain’s work this Summer.
I photographed Husain many years ago in his Bombay studio (I’ve previously written about him here and here) and he was as charming as he was prolific. How awful then that his work, a mixture of European Modernism and Indian imagery, is unlikely to be seen again anytime soon in his home country. He had to flee India in 2006 as Hindu militants put a bounty on his head, charging him with “offending religious sentiment”. The London show is, in a sense, a farewell to Husain but perhaps moreover, potentially to the ideas to which his art spoke: of a secular, tolerant India. As India rushes headlong into the clutches of corporations and those that seek to divide it’s people against one another (rigidly defining those who are and who aren’t an ‘acceptable’ Indian), it ironically may take the legacy of an elderly millionaire painter to act as a metaphor for the freedoms that ordinary Indians – indeed perhaps the idea of India itself – are in danger of losing.