Friends of Regent's Park Newsletter 90

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agm diary date 9 march 2017

Frieze Art Fair Regent's Park 2016

The Frieze fairs took place two weeks' earlier this year to avoid some religious holiday dates, but this proved advantageous for the park's maintenance team as they were able to reinstate the park with new turf and seed well before winter set in.

In this edition we have reviewed all three aspects of the Frieze: the sculpture below, and a special colourful section in the middle of the newsletter covering Frieze and Frieze Masters.

the drummer
The Drummer, Barry Flanagan 1996

Frieze Sculpture was curated again this year by Clare Lilley, director of programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Two of the eighteen works displayed in the park stand out this year. The Drummer by Barry Flanagan, 1996, courtesy of Waddington Custot Galleries (above left) is a lithe, dancing and drumming hare in bronze, very much his signature piece and said to have been inspired by the sight of a leaping hare in the Sussex downs. Neptune (Rescue) by Matthew Monahan, 2016, courtesy of Massimo de Carlo (below) is sited in an inspired location below one of the fountains in Avenue Gardens. Is it a modern version of a classical bronze of the god which has been rescued from further damage and destruction by the environment or vandals?

neptune (rescue)
Neptune (rescue), Matthew Monahan 2016

Don't forget there is still time to visit on display until 8 January and the app sponsored by the Art Fund is highly recommended.

Anne-Marie Craven, editor

End of season review 6 October 2016

The chairman, Ianthe McWilliams, welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked and praised the team in the park for all their work during the year. She updated the friends with a report of some of the meetings on the Cycle Superhighway II and HS2 and the anticipated House of Lords report on the latter.

She then introduced Andrew Scattergood who gave a whistle-stop presentation on the re-organization of the Royal Parks which is summarised as follows:

Loyd Grossman was appointed as the new Chairman in July 2016, a popular appointment as he has a good knowledge of the history and the background of the parks. The first wave of Trustees from the Greater London Authority and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has been appointed and will be announced shortly. The contracting-out order was scheduled for debate in the House of Commons in October and in the Lords a little later.

He predicted the new Board would meet in November and the application to the Charity Commission would also probably be made in November. The deadline for the transition to the new organisation is 1st March 2017. The key items for the new board of trustees' consideration are:

  • The Articles of Association which will include the charitable objects...

    • To promote the use and enjoyment of the Royal Parks for public recreation, health and well-being including through the provision of sporting and cultural activities and events

    • To protect, conserve, maintain and care for the Royal Parks, including their natural and designed landscapes and built environment, to a high standard consistent with their historic, horticultural, environmental and architectural importance

    • To maintain and develop the biodiversity of the Royal Parks, including the protection of their wildlife and natural environment, together with promoting sustainability in the management and use of the Royal Parks

    • To support the advancement of education, by promoting public understanding of the history, culture, heritage and natural environment of the Royal Parks and (by way of comparison) elsewhere

    • To promote the national heritage by hosting and facilitating ceremonies of state within the Royal Parks

  • The business case for change to include the mid-to-long term business plan for the new organisation

  • The contract with the DCMS ie the documents which set out the services the new organisation will deliver to government.

Funds have been received from the Government which will be used for:

A super nursery at Hyde Park, (which will in due course mean the Regent's Park nursery will become redundant and there are no specific plans yet for a replacement) work to be completed in Brompton Cemetery, refurbishment of the tennis courts at Regent's Park & Hyde Park. Catering will also get a boost, in particular the proposed Primrose Hill café. Some of the lodges will have some refurbishment and accommodation for the contractors in Kensington Gardens.

A number of questions were raised on the qualifications of the trustees and the manner in which the funds are spent. The government is giving a capital sum of money, a contract for services and the ability to use the environment for raising money. The main change taking place with the new organisation is that the board will be responsible for making decisions rather than the government.

The evening followed with a talk by Michael Fitt OBE on the Royal Parks during the First World War. Formerly Deputy Chief Executive of the Royal Parks and now Chairman of the Royal Parks Guild, Michael was an apprentice in Regent's Park in the 1960s. The Guild supports the Royal Parks and has a membership of around 300. Three years ago the Guild decided to find out the names of employees from the Royal Parks who fought in WWI, whilst also looking at the role of the parks during this time.

The project is enormous and there is much research to be done. Weeks were spent in the National Archives where some wonderful tales were uncovered by Guild volunteers.

Hyde Park was used to park hundreds of vehicles requisitioned at the start of the war and the Magazine building in Kensington Gardens was used for storing munitions which were shipped out in London buses with troops on the top deck. Mass recruiting rallies were held in Regent's Park. A searchlight tower was installed at Hyde Park Corner. The Household Cavalry hosted American troops in Hyde Park. A replica battlefield was created as part of the Camouflage School in Kensington Gardens.

The lake in St James's Park was drained and Government offices erected on the lake bed, alongside the Mall and in Birdcage Walk, for use by such departments as the Ministry of Shipping and the War Office.

Regent's Park was the site for the Post Office Home Depot, which was the largest wooden building at the time, located on Cumberland Green where it is said that, at its peak, twelve million letters and parcels were sorted weekly and sent to the different battle fronts.

Fourteen acres of buildings were erected on Marylebone Green for storing aircraft parts, including engine spares. He also showed us photographs of St Katharine's Lodge used by the American Red Cross as a hospital and St Dunstan's Lodge, now the location of Winfield House, the American ambassador's residence, used as a hostel for blinded soldiers and sailors.

He showed a picture of the aerial ropeway, devised by H G Wells, for use in the trenches and tested in Richmond Park. The Guild recreated a length of this for demonstration at Richmond Park's Open Day, last year. Allotments were a government requirement in the parks. At the end of the war German guns were brought back to the Mall for display to the public. 15,000 troops marched through the parks in 1919 to mark the Peace Celebrations.

He then recounted the story of the Edwin Lutyens memorial in Whitehall, the Cenotaph and finally the memorial discovered, after huge research, which included the names of the 24 Royal Parks staff who joined up and lost their lives during the war. A booklet will be published by the Guild in 2017, to recount these stories and to commemorate those parks staff lost.

An application is being submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund for money to underpin a programme of displays and activities which will explain the role of the Royal Parks during WWI. The meeting ended with a round of applause for Mike.

Frieze Fair 2016

The Frieze Fair presented an array of exhibits with a notably strong sprinkling of photography by photographers such as Wolfgang Tillmans, Robert Mapplethorpe and William Eggleston. The section restaging notable '90s' exhibitions was an inspired curatorial addition to the fair.

portia munson
Portia Munson

There were plenty of quirky exhibits to bring a smile to all generations such as the vast table of pink memorabilia consisting of thousands of plastic exhibits ranging from mini hairbrushes to Care Bears, toothbrushes and mirrors by Portia Munson. Then there was the life size Reindeer covered in transparent plastic bubbles – quite unique. On a more formal note, on Frith Street Gallery's stand, stood Massimo Bartolini's majestic Bardiglio Imperial Marble tower entitled 'Airplane' made of black and grey marble, thousands of years old.

grayson perry
Grayson Perry

For me without doubt the most impressive stand was that of the Victoria Miro gallery, curated as a set of rooms. Many of the gallery's regular artists were on show such as Grayson Perry with an elegant ceramic, and his celebrated British inspired tapestries including one named 'The Digmoor Tapestry', featuring a lottery ticket. The star of his works this year had to be the cast-iron ship entitled 'Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman'. Quirky, comical and refreshingly different from any previous work, it was inspired by the collection of artifacts from the British Museum and pays homage to great craftsmen. A great feat to install I imagine. Yayoi Kusama's 'Infinity' paintings were displayed and several of-- her remarkable 'Eternal Soul' paintings in monochrome.

antony gormley
Antony Gormley

White Cube had a very impressive stand from both their Mason's Yard and Bermondsey galleries, featuring its wellknown artists such as Antony Gormley with his black metal cubist sculpture and Damien Hirst with his 'Black Sheep' in formaldehyde and his beautiful circle of butterflies. A stack of metal objects arranged vertically entwined with electrical current proved to be a challenging exhibit particularly for the invigilators who had to keep a close watch.

Around the corner at Lisson Gallery's stand, the monumental sculpture 'Red Stave' by Anish Kapoor with its curved mirrored surfaces was easily the most photographed work, reflecting the fairgoers back on themselves in its cool silver shell and its vibrant pink interior (see pic).

Gagosian Gallery and Marianne Boesky dedicated their minimal but expansive stands to single-artist presentations with Edmund de Waal and Hans Op de Beeck respectively. Hauser and Wirth also presented an artist-studio inspired stand featuring numerous works from the gallery's contemporary artists and estates, including work by Louise de Bourgeois.

Frieze proved again it is more than merely a fair for collectors but an important, enriching addition to the London arts scene, reflecting the city's diversity. The fair was an inspiring presentation drawing crowds of enthusiastic visitors and I was particularly pleased that Sunday opening hours have been reinstated. The lively programme of talks by exhibiting artists was also an added bonus.

Gillian Young, Secretary

An artist interprets some of the works at Frieze Masters

Frieze Masters is a celebration of creativity from the ancient Cycladic world to that of modern established contemporary artists.

An archaic amphora
An archaic amphora

An archaic amphora
This was an eloquent and lively example of the black-figure technique and depicts on both vignettes a popular subject - Dionysiac revelry as portrayed in Euripides' the Bacchae. The bearded god, flanked by two maenads, proffers a drinking cup to the girl on the right while the other to his left moves towards him in greeting; a satyr, with long bushy tail, adds to the drama. The figures are linked by flowing vine tendrils which emanate from the god's hand, celebrating his mastery over nature.

Hero and Leander
Hero and Leander

Eric Auerbach
Hero and Leander

Auerbach, a pupil of Bomberg, believes painting to be a cultural activity and has described his own work as a "re-invention of the physical world". But he has always been influenced by the masters who came before him, "Without these touchstones we'd be floundering." His vision is nonetheless rooted in his immediate experience of everyday life around him and that of the city. The small scale of this drawing seems to emphasise Auerbach's brilliant handling of spatial dynamics. His pursuit of the underlying structure of things is revelatory with the river flowing through the dark grainy charcoal.

The River Tajo
The River Tajo

David Bomberg
The River Tajo and the Road up to Toledo

Bomberg had a profoundly moral vision. Turning directly to the study of nature, he searched for the 'Spirit in the Mass,' coming increasingly to trust in his own instinct and intuition. He found, in the dramatic mountainous Spanish landscape with its tremendous heights and vertiginous depths, a spur to his creative impulse. In swift, visceral brushstrokes, he lays bare the significance of what was before him. His juxtaposition of warm pinks and terracotta to luminous greys thrill the viewer. Buildings are confined to the periphery of the composition but he manages to convey the glimmering light reflected in the castle windows


Joan Mirô

This was one of a series of small oil paintings on wooden panels which the artist worked on in 1932. Much admired by the French poet, Eluard, Miro wanted his work to possess its own poetic language and here evokes the anatomical shapes of a woman in cryptic rather than descriptive mode. Expressing his deep love of nature, he employs warm earth colours, a sharp acid yellow, green and white in layered and glazed transparent washes of great beauty while remaining true to the wooden texture of the panel beneath.

L'Empire des Lumières
L'Empire des Lumières

Rene Magritte
L'Empire des Lumières

Magritte claimed that a painting creates rather than expresses ideas and that it was only after he had finished this work that he understood that there is no real separation between night and day. He painted many versions of this subject matter, beloved by the Surrealists, who took great delight in paradox or the reconciliation of opposites: La Terre est bleue comme une orange as Eluard wrote.

Amanda Malpass

And the editor adds

Red, yellow and blue
Patrizio di Massimo, Red, yellow and blue. Photo courtesy of Mark Blower and Gallery T293, Rome

Patrizio di Massimo
Red, yellow and blue

This Italian artist who lives in London has taken a Flemish painting of the deposition of Christ and given it a completely new interpretation with portraits of himself (?) far right and perhaps some of his friends with a doctor examining the 'patient'. But is that the figure of John the Baptist in the middle?

Tennis and the Will to Win

The chairman, Ianthe McWilliams, patron Judy Hillman, magazine editor Anne-Marie Craven and secretary Gillian Young attended a meeting with CEO Steve Riley at the Will to Win Tennis Club on York Bridge, Inner Circle, in Regent's Park, NW1 4NU.

It was a glorious summer afternoon and we were treated to a delicious tea.

The club is impressive. It runs efficiently and is ambitiously embarking, with the approval of the Park Manager, Nick Biddle, on a programme of renovations to make it even better. The Parks are to upgrade the tennis courts and Will to Win are seeking permission to convert a derelict toilet block into smart new changing facilities. The new arrangement is to include Paddle or Padel Tennis, a relatively new sport in the UK but one that takes up half the size of a tennis court, provides the same 'eye-to-ball' co-ordination, and is by all accounts very popular across Europe.

The Will to Win Foundation is a not-for-profit arm of the organization doing good for the community. They run a school scheme to train an up-andcoming young junior players.

A good business and philanthropy go side-by-side in building up a small tennis empire which is available to all. Friends are offered a 20% discount at off-peak court bookings. The club offers four levels of tennis coaching and is well worth a visit as a local even if you are only a casual or lapsed player.

pavilion 1881
1881 view of pavilion and archery contest

For the historians among you it would appear, from an old photograph that Steve produced, that the clubhouse was formerly created for archery. It was the headquarters of the Royal Toxopholite Society from 1874 until it was evicted in 1922.

Do make time to visit even just for the tea.

Gillian Young, Secretary

A Church Diary (1939 - 1941)

Sunday, 3rd September 1939 was a beautiful early autumn day; but few people who lived through it would ever forget it. When the vicar, the Reverend J.A.L. Hardcastle, read the declaration of war in place of a sermon, the soldiers who were on Church parade, promptly left and went to their anti-aircraft gun positions on top of Primrose Hill. As the nation listened to the Prime Minister's radio broadcast, there was an immediate air raid warning and the gunners went to action stations. It seemed that the Germans were living up to their reputation for promptness. But, it proved to be the first of many false alarms. The authorities had greatly feared a massive pre-emptive air attack on the Capital immediately following the declaration of war. Consequently, the anti-aircraft defences had been mobilised ten days earlier, but no raids came. The period of relative calm, known as the 'phoney war', had begun.

aa gun 1939
Anti-aircraft gun on Primrose Hill 1939. Credit: Imperial War Museum H868

The Church Register of St Mary, the Virgin, Primrose Hill not only records the details of the church services and the number of communicants, but chronicles the impact of the war on London and Primrose Hill. Although the clergy continued to provide up to five services a day on a regular basis, ceremonies had to be modified or adapted as the circumstances dictated. Since no public access to Primrose Hill was allowed, the 1940 Palm Sunday 'beating the bounds' had to be curtailed. On occasions there was no Mass as the server had to go and make munitions or the Vicar overslept following a particularly heavy air raid the previous night. Sometimes the congregation was reduced to one person. However, the choir tenor managed to get special leave to sing at Easter, but wore his army battledress uniform under his cassock.

The Register records the invasion of Holland and Belgium in May, 1940 and the subsequent German entry into Paris five weeks' later. The clergy held a special day of prayer for France. Following the Armistice there was a lull. The first air raid in the London area is recorded on 19th August, but it was not until 8th September that Göring and the Luftwaffe changed tactics and concentrated on bombing the capital and its civilian population. That evening, there was a severe raid on London with immense fires in the east, visible from Primrose Hill. Windows were broken in the local houses by the anti-aircraft gun fire. Joyce Bland recalled:

"There were 3 or 4 guns on the hill, and when they fired you could hear glass tinkling along the street as the windows fell out."

The guns were in constant use throughout the night, with intense barrages lasting from 9.00pm through to dawn. The King and Queen had a narrow escape, when Buckingham Palace was hit by six bombs. But St Mark's Church, Regent's Park received an incendiary device in the night and was burnt to the ground within two hours. On 27th September, there was no Mass as a land mine had dropped on Primrose Hill rendering the church unsafe until removed. At 3.30 a.m. some 90 people were evacuated from Elsworthy and Primrose Hill roads and the vicarage; they were not allowed to return until the following day.

7th October was the first quiet night for a month, but over the following three nights there were massive raids lasting for 12 hours, accompanied by fierce, heavy gunfire and local bombing. The service on 3rd November was interrupted by a German plane overhead and an intense barrage from the guns, but the vicar continued with the Mass. It was followed by an entirely quiet night and torrential rain. Slowly the raids became more spasmodic as the Germans turned their attention to other cities; on 15th, Coventry Cathedral was destroyed with over 1,000 casualties.

On New Year's Day, 1941 there was a devastating fire raid on the City and Guildhall with many churches destroyed or severely damaged and, in April, St Mary's itself sustained damage when a bomb shattered windows in the north transept and aisle. The close proximity of the church to the local anti-aircraft defences on top of the hill must have ensured that it did not suffer massive destruction like so many other churches around the Capital.

John Malpass,
FRP&PH committee member

Regent's Park Residents Forum 28th September at Regent's University London

The Forum is run on behalf of park residents by the Crown Estate Paving Commission (CEPC) which is responsible for the maintenance of the residential roadways and gardens in the terraces around Regent's Park, including the street lighting, cleansing and on-street parking. Most of the Commissioners are volunteers and operate under statutes dating back almost 200 years to 1824. There is more information about the CEPC and its history at

Over forty people attended the Forum on 28th September and the meeting focussed on a number of recent developments:

  1. The Security Enhancement Project being run by the CEPC, including the appointment of a new Security Manager

  2. Cycle Superhighway 11 through Regent's Park being proposed by TfL

  3. High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) and the impact on the park of its lorry holding area in the Zoo carpark during the long construction period

The CEPC's Security Enhancement Project is now operational and Martin Dolby has been appointed as the new Security & Traffic Manager. His task is to seek coordination of the many private security operations in existence around the park. His own team of nine patrol staff will work with the police and the private security operators to improve security by identifying and monitoring problem "hotspots".

Max Jack, CEPC Director, reported on the TfL consultations with amenity groups about its proposals for CS11. TfL has attempted to work towards a consensus about the proposals with many of the stakeholder groups, both those supporting and opposing the route. The new London Mayor is still formulating his own transport policies, but Ianthe McWilliams, the Friends' chairman fears TfL will implement the project in some form, driven by the statistics which show that approximately 70% of vehicles entering the park pass straight through, and the accident rate on Outer Circle is unacceptably high, particularly for cyclists.

Ianthe and Judy Hillman petitioned the House of Lords Select Committee on HS2, on behalf of the Friends of Regents Park and Primrose Hill, along with a number of other local residents and organisations. The Zoo continues to argue that the lorry park should be moved elsewhere as a rare hedgehog population would be threatened by the lorry park and the Zoo itself would be adversely impacted. Before the HS2 project can begin, Thames Water will take 18 months to divert an existing 42" water main, which will cause much disruption and traffic congestion for Albany Street residents. The HS2 project is now looking at a number of alternative sites for the lorry park, although each site will have its own problems and opponents, meaning that a resolution may take some time to emerge.

The next Forum meeting will be on 22nd February 2017 and all CEPC ratepayers and residents are very welcome to attend.

Mark Elliott, Chairman of Regent's Park Residents' Forum

Zoo news

Renowned architects Foster + Partners are set to give the historic Snowdon Aviary a bold new makeover – as ZSL London Zoo appoints the firm to revamp the pioneering model of British architecture.

snowdon aviary
London Zoo Snowdon Aviary

A grade II* listed building and one of the Zoo's most famous structures, the Aviary celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015 and stands proud and visible from the nearby Regent's Canal and Primrose Hill. The new exhibit is set to be transformed into a walk-through colobus monkey enclosure, which will give visitors a unique and up close experience of the stunning primates.

Inspired by the graceful movements of flying birds, the Snowdon Aviary was truly unique for its time; conceived by Lord Snowdon and realised by architect Cedric Price and structural engineer Frank Newby, when the exhibit opened in 1965 it was Britain's first walk-through aviary. It's a symbolic appointment for the role, as Lord Foster of Foster + Partners is famed for his ambitious and daring designs, which are often compared to the megastructures imagined by the exhibit's original architect, Cedric Price.

Earlier this year international conservation charity the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) secured the first stage of a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant for the initial research and planning phase of modernising the Zoo's iconic Snowdon Aviary, and to use the new space to interact with new audiences and school children.

James Wren, ZSL
Director of Fundraising


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Site created on Friday 25th February 2011, last edited Sunday 18th December 2016.
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