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HRH Prince Michael of Kent Reviews the Chelsea Pensioners at Founder’s Day 2018

HRH Prince Michael of Kent reviewed the Chelsea Pensioners today at Royal Hospital Road. The pensioners resplendent in their scarlet coats tapped their hands and feet to the music of the Coldstream Guards, and proudly smiled when introduced to his Highness. Also present were his wife, HRH Princess Michael of Kent and the Mayor of Kensington & Chelsea, Cllr. Marie-Therese Rossi. In his replying speech, General Sir Adrian Bradshaw KCB OBE announced his pleasure at taking over as Governor of Royal Hospital Road.

Images and copyright:  www.lucyelliottphotography.com

David Austin Roses wins 24th Gold at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018

David Austin Roses, the by word for excellence in English Roses, won their 24th Gold at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. As always this was also their chance to showcase their new rose for the show, this year being ‘Tottering-by-gently’ inspired by Annie Tempest’s cartoon which appears in County Life every week. In addition to the 10 show gardens and 16 smaller ones, there were a host of celebrities to add to the colour of the floral displays. Themes for the gardens ranged from local company, Trailfinders’ inspiration of the Western Cape of South Africa, to the Yorkshire Dales, to recyclable plastic. Truly inspirational garden displays.

Images and copyright:  www.lucyelliottphotography.com

 

Obituary: Dr Joan Martin (102) who saved many lives at the Bethnal Green Tube Disaster

Born in November 1915 Joan trained as a doctor at the Royal Free Hospital. In 1943 she found herself the only Casualty Doctor (a junior doctor at that) on duty at the Queen Elizabeth Children’s Hospital on the night of the fateful Bethnal Green Tube Disaster. This was the UK’s largest single loss of civilian life during World War II where more than 170 people were crushed to death. Joan led the team treating the casualties at the hospital and saved many lives. She was advised by the Government never to mention what happened that night. It was only in her 80s that she started to speak of it. She suffered regular nightmares as a result of that night.In the early 1960s she set up the ‘Swimming for Disabled People’ club based at Walmer Road, Kensington where, together with John Scott & other volunteers, she provided this service for over fifty years (she gave up at 96!) Joan was awarded an MBE for 1985 and aged 88 she dived in the Agean Sea to save the then Bishop of Kensington from drowning. Local resident, Joy Puritz, wrote Joan’s autobiography in 2011 ‘
‘Passing the Flame: The Life and Work of Dr Joan Martin’ detailing Joan’s extraordinary life, including her work, not just as a medic and doctor, but also as Girl Gider, Pilgrim,Volunteer and devout Christian. In May 2012, at the recommendation of Lucy Elliott, Joan was awarded as Runner-up in the The Times/Sternberg Active Life Award 2012
resulting in a trip to No. 10 Downing St. In 2014 a group of friends arranged a surprise party. Joan was sadly ill, but it turned out we were a year early (!) and in 2015 to great fanfare Joan was given a huge party, with many friends coming long distances to share her celebration. Last December, a monument was finally unveiled to recognise those who had died in the 1943 Disaster. Joan was well enough to attend this event and to the end, she had full clarity. She died amongst friends, at home on January 15, 2018. A life (very) well lived.
A memorial service for Joan will be held at St Mary Abbots on 15 February at 11.00 am.

Draycott Nursing & Care Annual Christmas Carol Service for Canine Partners

In December friends and colleagues attended the Annual Christmas Carol Service with a difference – watching 12 fully trained canine partners demonstrate their talents in helping disabled people lead full lives. The service was attended by some 450 guests, and readers included the singer Pati Boulay, David Robb (Downton Abbey), Michael Paluso, Rula Lenska and James Dreyfus. The event raised over £40,000 resulting in enough funding for the training of two dogs – an Amazing Result

Prince Harry and Prince William lay flowers in memory of HRH Princess Diana on the 20th Anniversary of her death

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the death of their mother, Prince Harry and Prince William walked from their home at Kensington Palace through a gate to the Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace.  Accompanied by the Duchess of Cambridge, they walked around the garden inspired by Princess Diana.  The two princes then walked to the gates of Kensington Palace, where 20 years ago it was a sea of flowers.  Many well wishers were present with small bouquets of flowers.  Some were handed to the princes who returned to the gate to lay them. The scene was touchingly poignant of a similar scene so many years ago when the world watched with their hearts in their mouths as two young boys faced the world without their mother.

Images:  www.lucyelliottphotography.com

 

The Design Museum: The Final Journey – From Commonwealth Institute to the completion of a Vision

These entries have been taken from past entries in our Blog – A diary of progress: from the final days of the Commonwealth Institute, the development of the Design Museum, and its opening in November 2017:

To start at the beginning (September 2011):  As part of Open London Weekend, the Commonwealth Institute opened its doors to the public for the very last time, before works start on the new Design Museum.  This was a tremendous opportunity for people who love architecture or photographic architecture to take advantage of the tour provided.

The Design Museum will be moving to the former Commonwealth Institute in 2014. The building has, sadly, been empty for over 10 years, but during the tours it was evident many had been before, some in their school days and those who could remember their first impressions of ‘seeing other cultures’ being exposed to anthropology for the very first time.  Apparently it was quite ahead of its time, with plenty of activities to involve school children and generate their love and understanding of our commonwealth cousins.  And not least to mention the glass clad walls, which was considered innovative in the 1960s and is still used now in many modern buildings.

The internal remodelling of the building will be carried out by John Pawson Architects. The new Design Museum is expected to welcome half a million visitors to its exhibitions every year, offer 60,000 learning opportunities and display the museum’s important collection of twentieth and twenty-first century design. Design studios and workshops, a library, restaurant, cafe and auditorium will be housed in a beautiful, state of the art building underneath the stately curves of the original 1962 copper and concrete roof.

Originally the Commonwealth Institute housed an exhibition celebrating the fifty four nations of the Commonwealth. It was an undisputed icon of British post-war architecture. The radial deisgn inside extends out from a marble circular platform which stands at the centre of the square building’s diameter and at the exact mid – point of its height. On entering the building the visitor arrives on the platform, at the central point of a huge spatial volume – a powerful first impression. This platform situates the spectator not only at the centre of the Exhibition Hall but at the symbolic centre of the world of the Commonwealth. From here the visitor could ‘travel’ the staircases to visit the many different countries represented here. The most striking feature of the Exhibition Hall is the complex hyperbolic paraboloid roof. Its copper cladding was designed to mellow in harmony with the greens of Holland Park. Its tent like exterior lines complement the park’s soft treelines. Building materials donated by Commonwealth countries augmented the tiny budget for design and construction. Zambia donated 25 tonnes of copper from its mines. Unfortunately, this arrived in the form of copper ore and had to be processed before it could be applied to the roof. Much of the hardwood used in the flooring and other applications also come from Commonwealth donors.

The building was designed by the distinquished practice of Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall and Partners. James Gardner was the exhibition designer – he had been the principal designer to the Festival of Britain an his work on the Commonwealth Institute revived and impr9oved on may of the innovations he had developed there. Dame Sylvia Crower designed the landscaped gardens. Lord Cunliffe was the original project architect and has consulted on initial plans for the Exhibition Hall’s remodelling into the new Design Museum. Construction began at the end of 1960. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the buildings in November 1962. Its construction cost £440,000. The Exhibition Hall was listed Grade II* in 1988. Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest. The Exhibition Hall’s place in the social history of Britain and its ‘swept’ roof define its listed status. It has been described as the outstanding British examples of hyperbolic paraboloid roof and as one of the most carefully thought out experiments in post-war English architecture. The works are due to begin on site in early 2012 and will be completed in 2014. The magnificent concrete and copper roof of the Exhibition Hall will be preserved. A central viewing platform will offer visitors views of the interior roof span.
From ‘Open House London: Design Museum’ promotional flyer

This blog originally appeared on 19th September 2012:  Sir Terence Conran celebrates the ‘Ground Breaking’ at the Former Commonwealth Institute.

80 year old Sir Terence Conran made no bones about the fact this was one of the best days of his life.  Having started the Design Museum in the ‘boiler room’ at the V&A and then moved to the premises in Shad Thames, the Design Museum (the new Kensington one) is destined for great things once it is esconced at the former site of the Commonwealth Institute.  Rather wonderfully for just as the Commonwealth Institute represented cultures from around the world, so too does the inspiration that Sir Terence holds for the future of design – that the Government should do all it can to encourage designers, entrepreuners and engineers and become a world renowned hub for design.  He praised many stakeholders, Chelsfield, large and small charitable organisations who had made this possible (since they don’t receive Government funding) and the confidence he had in the team of builders from Mace.  He spoke fondly of the parabola roof, the only one of its kind in the world, and hoped that the well known flag poles at the forecourt would remain there.

The occasion was to celebrate the ‘ground breaking’ and to plant a time capsule to be opened in 2112.  Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Architecture spoke, as did Deyan Sudjic (Director of the Design Museum) and Luqman Arnold (Chair of the Trustees) and the Mayor of Kensington & Chelsea, Councillor Christopher Buckmaster.  However, on this beautiful sunny morning in Kensington, with the clear blue sky, the red crane, the high viz jackets and white helmets, it was the charming but somewhat frail Sir Terence who quietly stole the show.

 

Fast Forward to 17th November 2016:  The residents of Kensington have been watching the development of Holland Green (shiny lego-brick style residential development) and the Design Museum with interest.  First came the shop – beautifully small, but as it transpired, augmented by the larger store in the Museum situated on the ground floor of Holland Green.  Then on 17th the worlds press were invited to attend a photocall with Deyan Sudjic, Terence Conran, John Pawson, and Luqman Arnold with the multicoloured backdrop of ‘Designer Maker User’.   The architecture is wonderful; the roof structure having been left mainly in-situ from its Commonwealth Institute days, and the original marble flooring has been cleaned up and provides a panel for the main back wall.  The only sadness is that the star shaped design  which used to be on the centre of the original floor was not deemed by English Heritage to be of significant historical interest, so that was not saved.  The original copper parabola roof has been kept and can be viewed from Kensington High St. and Holland Park. Judging by the amount of interest world-wide the Design Museum is set to be a world class masterpiece of design, in its own right.

22nd November 2017  The Launch Party:  Attended by at last 1200 guests and hosted by Deyan, Terence and Alexandra Schulman – this was the party of all parties.   The champagne flowed, the atmosphere tremendous, guests very ‘designer-ish’ and the speeches genuine and sincere.  The affection between Terence and Deyan was clear, with both insisting the whole venture could not have been done without the other.  This was a huge day for Terence who later admitted to me that what he was really looking forward to was watching people come into the museum on the first open day, incognito!

24 November 2017:   The day has finally come.  Considering the world-wide interest and jamboree of the past few days, the ‘cutting of the ribbon’ as it was called, was quiet and sedate.  Only two photographers, (in-house and ourselves), the Trustees, architects and staff were present.  Upon cutting the ribbon, staff cheered and clapped – the event felt like a family birthday party than a corporate occasion – more akin to a celebration of a coming of age.  Perhaps in a sense that’s what it really was.  A long journey, a vision from a gentleman who has finally achieved what he felt so certain of all those years ago.  That design has a place, not only in our lives, but in society.  Bravo!

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Images and copyright:  www.lucyelliottphotography.com

www.designmuseum.org

 

 

Marrakech through the ages – In three days

Morocco is a city of contrasts; colour, poverty, dust, antiques, donkeys, motorbikes, horse drawn carts, history, architecture, artisans and gastronomic delight.  To take all this in, in three days is quite an assault on the mind and body.

For a good place to start your tour is the new Almaha Marrakech Riad based in the the Kasbah district of Marrakech, a 20 minute walk from the main square of Jemaa-el-Fna – from where it is possible to see the whole of Morocco in a condensed state.  Almaha Marrakech which opened in February, is run by a small team.  It comprises 12 rooms and suites, the size of which places it in the ’boutique’ hotel category.  Each suite on the first floor has its own private staircase leading directly to a large roof terrace, divided into private spaces by the clever use of fencing made up of Bougainvillea.  From here you have the vantage of surveying the whole of Marrakech and beyond to the Atlas mountains.  Also on the roof terrace is a small swimming pool and a covered terrace for breakfast or dinner.  The hotel is situated in a residential area meaning that you hardly see any other tourists and become immersed in the culture quicker. We built up a good rapport with the gentleman who sold water from a kiosk just minutes from the hotel and despite walking from the main Square back to the road at night, we felt much safer than we would have done in London.  Almaha Marrakech provides excellent food and you should definitely try their speciality (and indeed Morocco’s) of lamb tagine with prune and almonds.  Off the main courtyard is the Library where a wall panel of hand-folded books features the words from the poem by Charles Baudelaires ‘L’invitation au voyage’.  Another lovely room is the Pixel Room, so named due to the 23,000 or so silk pieces of fabric manually fitted  together to represent the Mosque and surrounding area of the Jamaa-el-Fna.  Bearing in mind the heat, a spa and hamman with its various treatments on offer is very welcome. A time to reflect on all that you have seen and done during your stay.
The architecture of Marrakech is varied and beautiful – places we would highly recommend as visiting are the Medersa Ben Youssef containing the most exquisite stone carvings you have ever seen representative of the Arab-Andalusian architecture;  The Secret Garden containing two sections – one for indigenous planting and the other showcasing plants from five continents; the Virtual Museum of the Public Square which holds temporary exhibitions reflecting local heritage and culture; The Marrakech Museum with its fantastic mosaics. For a rest from serious culture, go to Jemaa-el-Fna at night and see Marrakech come alive with its informal culture; snake charmers, medicine men, tooth pullers, storytellers, acrobats, musicians and entertainers.
You can walk everywhere, but at the end of the day, after some 8 miles of walking never has a spa or a sunbed been so welcome!
Lucy and Stephen were guests of Almaha Marrakech
Almaha Marrakech, 55 Derb Ben Zina, La Kasbah, 40040 Marrakech, Morocco   www.almahamarrakech.com

Images and copyright:  www.lucyelliottphotography.com

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HRH Princess Michael of Kent launches new season of KCWC at the Royal Geographic Society

The Kensington Chelsea Women’s Club (KCWC) is a very active Club with hundreds of members.  Offering national and international women from London the opportunity to meet once a month at their General Meeting at prestigious venues across the Borough.  KCWC run courses, lectures and events, covering some 35 activities over the month – ranging from sports, languages to history.   Each month they invite a keynote speaker – in September it was HRH Princess Michael of Kent who spoke about her Anjou trilogy, the third of which ‘Quicksilver’ had recently been published.  The Princess is a rather good storyteller and gave the packed auditorium at the Royal Geographic Society an entertaining historical account (aka romp) of the royal family of France in the 15th century.  Her quick wit and self-deprecation were endearing and clearly she proved to be a most popular choice of keynote speaker to launch the 2016-2017 KCWC year.  To join or to find out more about the activities of KCWC please see www.kcwc.org.uk

Images and copyright:  www.lucyelliottphotography.com

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Radiant HRH The Princess Royal reviews Chelsea Pensioners at Founder’s Day Parade

HRH The Princess Royal officially opened the refurbished Wren designed ‘Long Wards’ whilst visiting Royal Hospital Road, home to the Chelsea Pensioners, at their recent annual Founder’s Day Parade. Dressed in pale blue and looking strikingly similar to the Queen at a young age, she enchanted the men in scarlet and showed her mother’s knack for sharing a quick joke with all she met. Sporting an Oak Leaf, symbolic of the tree King Charles II hid behind in order to avoid capture by the Parliamentary forces in 1661 at the Battle of Worcester, ‘Oak Apple Day’ as Founder’s Day is also known, is held on a day closest to King Charles II birthday (29th May) and the date of his restoration as King in 1660.  Those attending the parade represented many of the British corps, rejiments and military charities of which HRH The Princess Royal is Colonel in Chief, Colonel or Patron.

Images and copyright: Lucy Elliott, www.lucyelliottphotography
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Chelsea Flower Show 2016

This year’s Chelsea Flower Show will appeal to all types of gardeners.  From the flamboyant to the traditional, from the informal to the formal, this Show has it all.  Phillip Johnson’s 300,000 individually crochet poppies covering 21,000 sq.ft is a visual masterpiece and surely one which can never be forgotten; each poppy representing a memory of a loved one.  Elsewhere was a Heath-Robinson like garden, with moving plant pots, twirling trees and a moving flower bed.  For the more royal amongst us, the Queen was represented by a 10ft cut out of her head, filled with 10,000 flowers – a striking image used by many journalists.  The show felt more inclusive this year, taking itself less seriously, but no less impressive for that.  Keen gardeners of all ages mixed with celebrities and stars, their common love of plants uniting them in appreciating all that Chelsea has to offer.

One of the biggest surprises was the Garden Garage in the Artisan Section – a beautifully designed and tranquil area in which to house a car. Magazines and broadsheets focused on the first black designer for Chelsea, ever (which rather puts to shame the notion that gardening is for all); however, the bonus of the attention is that the RHS and wider gardening world, are rectifying this and, we hope, gardening in the future, will really be for all. As we hope Chelsea will be too.

Images and copyright: lucyelliottphotography.com
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