Pugin

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The Grange, Augustus Pugin’s house in Ramsgate that he had built for himself in then 1840s.

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Family crests on wallpaper in all colourways

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Beautiful glowing colours in the autumn sunshine

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Thoughtful details as you would expect from The Landmark Trust

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It was a contrast with the simplicity of the priests house next door

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whilst Pugin’s house had rugs, family portraits, stained glass and a glasshouse / Swiss-Cottage style entrance way.

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Apparently Pugin used to welcome friends with promises of cheese and bread and fires, which sounds rather cosy although I do hope he occasionally offered something else.

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The house also had its private chapel, which was moved to the next door church of st augustine, also built by Pugin

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and with lots of details: carvings, statues, tiled floors and biscuits for hungry walkers.

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September 2019.

 

Modern art in unexpected places

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The church next to the  Plecnik house in Ljubljana, which I think Plecnik must have designed for, as the water fonts were set at two careful heights and the metalwork on the doors and in the hanging boats looked familiar.

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The outside looked pretty ordinary or even dull, but inside were all sorts of intriguing details.

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Plecnik House

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Whilst we’re talking about artists’ studios, the Plecnik House in Ljubljana is another one I’ve been to recently and found fascinating.

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Plecnik was born in 1872 in Ljubljana, the son of a comfortably middle-class carpenter who made furniture for the local nobility and rich merchants. Initially apprenticed to his father he ended up studying and working in Vienna and Prague before returning to Ljubljana in the 1910s.

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The house was actually bought by Plecnik’s older brother, but Plecnik himself moved in with a view of making it a home for him and all his siblings, although in fact the wider family never lived there. Plecnik also returned from Prague determined to redesign his hometown, something he achieved through a mix of a ferocious work ethic, leveraging his position as professor of architecture at the local university to network with town officials granting building contracts and giving his designs to the town council for free.

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Frankly he sounds like a difficult character (setting up a reception room where guests were seated on a sloping bench under an open window that let in rain and snow; asking his younger brother to move out after the piano playing and noise from his visitors’ high heels disturbed Plecnik’s work; appropriating his students’ ideas), but his talent can be seen across the town.

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The house itself is fairly simple and full of light, with large curves bow windows overlooking the beautiful garden on two fronts and also the church next door that Plecnik contributed art and fittings to.

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There’s also an indoors winter garden where Plecnik continues teaching his architecture classes during the Second World War, but that in the summer is filled with vines and herbs growing round the walls.

All photos August 2019.

Trieste

Trieste was just right for a few quiet days and a comforting sense of being able to easily connect across Europe (you can be in Venice in 2 hours, Milan or Turin in about 5, or in the opposite direction dive down in Slovenia and connections to Germany and Switzerland), but it’s also not the prettiest city.

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Big post-war blocks of flats in concrete and with metal shutters like garages are dotted among equally blunt 19th century stucco blocks with faux-medieval “Venetian” windows or art nouveau snakes writhing across.

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But despite this, it’s small enough to cross in 20 minutes where you can stare at the sea, or at Fiats and boxes of ripe fruit in the square San Antonio

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or spot statues sitting by the sea and lounging in roundabouts

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spy an art exhibition

 

enjoy jaunty plates in a piggy buffet or camp coffee cups

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spot the pharmacy signs and statues set in niches at the very Wes Anderson former stock exchange.

 

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Pockets of pretty as you flaneur across a city.