Empire of Ice Cream is an exhibition of 13 meticulously filled graph paper drawings and three small sculptures created by Sam Jacob at Betts Project in London. The carefully drawn images in the gallery are generated from “remnants of architectural plans gathered from an assortment of historic and contemporary references.” Jacob's drawings were conceived between 2011 and 2019 and resemble historic city or urban design plans: segments from Ancient Greek temples, football pitches, something Meisian, parts of a church, orchards, fountains, straightforward corridors, a chunk of Parliament, and a Buzzcock’s single cover. They stand in Jacob's claims “for the effect of seeing fragments of architecture and our ability to recollect.” The small sculptures or objects in the show are also remnants of Jacob's memories, but seem to be personal "art" objects, unlike the drawings that have a long pedagogical and construction history in architecture research. Jacob is developing a recognizable hand drawing style that is moving his ideas beyond the single architectural object or drawing into urban design and a new take on postmodern urban planning and city making. It needs to be noted that Betts Project is becoming one of the most important independent venues for contemporary architecture today. The exhibition runs through March 9.
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RIBA Stirling Prize—winning firm Caruso St. John is currently exhibiting Diorama at the Betts Project art gallery in London. On show is a montage of 1:50 scale models of the firm's built works, notably their Newport Street Gallery, the building which claimed the 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize. The models have been intentionally restricted to a five-tone color palette, a decision taken to draw attention to their exteriors. This move transforms a medium typically used to express three-dimensional form into one that exhibits a pictorial quality. In doing so, the pastel colors used here place emphasis on details and facade arrangements. The technique appropriately defines the exterior qualities of projects such as the Nottingham Contemporary gallery, where linear forms sync with the mint and gold coloring that comprise the building's exterior, amplifying the model's topographic form and the effects of shadow created by cantilevers and canopies. What is sadly missed, however, is the subtle detail that often hallmarks Caruso St. John's facade work. To use the Nottingham Contemporary as an example again, the building employs a skin literally laced with contextual detail: Intricate and ornate lace motifs, embedded into a series of concrete panels, reference the site's history as the heart of the once thriving lace industry. But that perhaps isn't the point of Diorama. "The buildings that are represented in the models are very different, but we have used only five colors to represent all of their details. This serves to bring together their diverse forms and scales," said Adam Caruso in a press release. Photographs of models are also included in the exhibition. Describing these, Caruso added: "They show a world where the atmosphere of our buildings are explicitly evoked at the same time as being uncanny as to the actual size and material of the models, models that have been only made to produce these images." Diorama runs through February 25, 2017, at Betts Project.
There is a new gallery in London that should be on every architect's list of places to visit in the English capital. Betts Project at 100 Central street specializes in architectural drawings. The creator of the gallery, Marie Coulon, intends for the space to focus “on new ways of discovering and thinking about architecture by revealing the artistic qualities of architectural objects.” Coulon is a young French curator who has a passion for architecture and believes in exhibiting architectural drawings that are works of art more than technical drawings. The gallery displays and supports drawings that are personal and artful. In the past ten months, Betts Project has exhibited small-scale digital sketches by Tony Fretton, ink drawings by Pier Vittorio Aureli, sketches by Peter Märkli alongside reliefs by Hans Josephsohn, gouache and mixed media works by Lars Lerup, renderings by OFFICE, Kersten Geers, Peter Wilson, David Van Severen, and photographs by Bas Princen. The gallery has just opened an exhibit In Search of the Lost Artwork (through December 22) that features British architectural theorist Fred Scott and encompasses his fifty-year career of drawing. Click here to visit the gallery's website.