Wednesday, 6 August 2008

New Gallery, Regent Street

I'm going to get a camera with a longer lens, and possibly start carrying a pair of binos around as well. It is totally frustrating not to be able to see the detail in really high-level sculpture, especially when it is as good as the figures and bronze work on the New Gallery building in Regent Street.
The New Gallery itself is in the middle of this Beaux Art block built in 1920 to 1925 by the Scottish architectural practice Burnet & Tait - the shop/office blocks at either end are known as Vigo House and Westmoreland House.
The corners are marked by domes that recall the pepperpots on the Nash building it replaced. Shields and barking snakes heads in bronze run round the domes (they were designed by George Alexander) and stately women in classical drapes stand in front.
They each carry something that clearly symbolises the building in some way, but it is impossible to see what they are without a telephoto lens. One seems to hold a statuette of a seated woman, another some fruit, and a third brandishes a vase in one hand and what looks like a hammer in the other. Below the south dome, a girl sits cross-legged spinning (I think). What on earth does it all mean?
The sculptor was Sir William Reid Dick, also a Scot, who was official sculptor to George V.

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