Archive for the ‘London’ Tag

Eric de Maré's secret country | Art and design | The Guardian   Leave a comment

Architect at his drawing board. This wood engr...

Image via Wikipedia

Shock of the old … Eric De Maré’s ‘skyscrapers‘ in Hastings. Photograph: Eric de Maré

In the 1990s, the award-winning British architect Michael Hopkins was searching for someone to take black-and-white photographs of his buildings. He contacted Eric de Maré, the visionary chronicler of the postwar British landscape, then in retirement. “It was like watching an old�gunslinger back in action,” says Hopkins. “The first shots were a little off the mark. Then he found his aim and was bang on target. Those photographs are some of my proudest possessions.”

Richard MacCormac, architect of the Ruskin Library in Lancaster and other jewel-like buildings, shares Hopkins’s reverence. “Did Eric de Maré influence me?” he says. “Funny you should ask. I’ve just been using his shot of ‘skyscraper’ fishermen’s sheds at Hastings as inspiration for a housing scheme.”

This foreboding image shows a cluster of improbably tall sheds with pitched roofs, all tilting haphazardly. Referred to as “skyscrapers” by De Maré, their scale is revealed by two young women floating by in summery frocks. It was taken in 1956, when De Maré, an architect-turned-photographer born in London of Swedish parents, was in his mid-40s and working for the Architectural Review, on a mission to record venerable yet largely forgotten industrial buildings. The shot seems to be saying that architecture, no matter how unexpected, is for everyone: the women couldn’t be less like the fishermen for whom the sheds were built, yet they seem in curious harmony with the hulking structures that they are ambling past almost without noticing.

via Eric de Maré’s secret country | Art and design | The Guardian.

via Eric de Maré’s secret country | Art and design | The Guardian.

Posted November 22, 2010 by dmacc502 in architecture, global, History

Tagged with , , ,

Visible in stone: womens history through the buildings they lived and worked in – Telegraph   Leave a comment

Visible in stone: womens history through the buildings they lived and worked in – Telegraph.

via Visible in stone: womens history through the buildings they lived and worked in – Telegraph.

Department stores provided jobs not only for counter staff, but for women who made the stores’ goods. Here women make opera cloaks, mantles and motor-coats at Peter Robinson’s modern workshops in Little Portland Street, London, 1908.

Posted October 18, 2010 by dmacc502 in employment, family, London, photography

Tagged with , ,

Gardening calendar – October 2010 – Telegraph   Leave a comment

This is an image from L. H. Bailey's Manual of...

Image via Wikipedia

Gardening calendar – October 2010 – Telegraph.

via Gardening calendar – October 2010 – Telegraph.

Hazel View Farm kitchen garden

October is when gardeners really get to work on the body beautiful.

Whether they care about rippling abs, pecs and biceps or not, every muscle group will be put through its paces, digging – or even double-digging – the kitchen garden, planting container-grown shrubs, trees and climbers, laying a new lawn and preparing the garden for winter.

October often brings the first frosts. It also brings leaf colour and apple cake. It’s harvest festival.

And pumpkins go under the knife. So take time out to enjoy these seasonal delights before putting the garden to bed for winter.


Not only are the days shorter and the temperatures lower, but October also brings stronger winds and 25 per cent more rain compared with September. The first frost of the season occurs in the first week in northern Britain and near the month’s end in the south. An Indian summer happens about one year in four.

Posted October 18, 2010 by dmacc502 in culture, global, suburbs

Tagged with , , , ,

Domestic service – whats changed in 100 years? – This Britain, UK – The Independent   Leave a comment


Training for domestic service, Burnham School

Image by Christchurch City Libraries via Flickr


Domestic service – whats changed in 100 years? – This Britain, UK – The Independent.

via Domestic service – whats changed in 100 years? – This Britain, UK – The Independent.

It may be that very British obsession with class, deference or a prurient interest in the lives of others. Perhaps it is just the sumptuous costumes and sepia-tinged nostalgia for a bygone age when the brasses shone and the linen sheets were crisply ironed.

But whatever the reason for the surprise success of ITV’s hit period costume drama Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes’ Sunday night serial has reignited interest in the goings-on below stairs for millions of television viewers.

It is a life that has changed dramatically since the Edwardian high-water mark, when upper and upper middle class households employed more women than any other industry in Britain. Today the tens of thousands that make their living – officially or unofficially – cooking, cleaning, driving or keeping house for others are more likely to come from overseas and work for ex-pat families than from our own homegrown working class.

They are also subject to the same rigours of professionalism and cost control as in any other workplace, despite the wealth and often glamorous lifestyles of their employers.

Laura Harrall, of Greycoat Placements, which specialises in finding situations for high-calibre domestic staff, admitted that although the industry had been transformed since the days of Downton Abbey it still made for compulsive viewing. A former housekeeper, Ms Harrall said it took a certain kind of person to meet the challenge of 21st-century domestic service – where the economic downturn has resulted in hired help being required to turn their hands to an increasing number of tasks in what can often be a claustrophobic environment.

“It’s not all starched and stuffiness as it used to be,” she said. “But it is not an easy job. It is a very good profession for people who like to work for others; to work to very high standards and to make sure someone else’s life runs smoothly,” she said.

Whereas once domestic positions would be passed down through families, today’s recruits are more likely to be trained in the world’s leading hotels and hospitality industries. And for the very best, the rewards can be highly attractive.

The most sought-after couples who between them fulfil the roles of cook, chauffeur, butler, housekeeper, gardener and handyman are increasingly in demand and can earn anything up to £60,000 a year. Accommodation – normally self-contained and more often than not in the ritziest parts of town and country – is thrown in, as is travel, food, heating and other bills.

But in return, employees are expected to work very long hours, finding themselves at their employer’s beck and call from morning until night six or seven days a week. Staff must be able to put a distance between themselves and their masters.

“The houses are very nice but in the end you work there – you don’t own it. That is very important to remember. People think they can go and work in a large property and almost acquire the lifestyle of the person they are working for,” said Ms Harrall.

“You do get more personality clashes than if you put people in an office job. You are working in someone’s home. In an office if you don’t get along with an employee you can say goodbye to them at five o’clock,” she added.

Francine Bray, founder and managing director of Chelsea Staff Bureau International, said recent years had witnessed a profound power shift in relations between domestic staff and their employers.

“The employees have the whip hand. If it is too much one way or the other then it is no good. In the old days they were like slaves – they belonged to their masters. Today they are not – the master belongs to them. They do dictate. One of these days they will have a union,” she said.

In return, she added, old-fashioned notions of duty and responsibility have been swept under the carpet. Few employers are now prepared to put up with a member of staff with children or a pet. However, Ms Bray, who counts some of the world’s richest people and most famous celebrities among her clients, believes there is little to suggest the old days were as romantic as television might have it.

Finding the right people, she said, was also increasingly problematic. “Even the last four years it has become almost impossible. That is why we are starting a school for butlers, couples and nannies. They are very, very long hours. The employer wants to get as much for their money as they can. The other [employee] wants to do a minimum for their money. It’s a tug of war. It is not a happy world because the domestic household staff really hate doing it but they make a lot of money.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly in the face of such tensions, many employers new to the business of hiring live-in domestic help can find the process daunting – although in the end choosing the right staff is a matter of instinct as much as anything. “It doesn’t have to be scary. It can be a stressful time. They are inviting practical strangers to come into their homes five days a week,” said Ms Harrall.

“I talk about their expectations and try and find a suitable match. There will always be a formal interview and sometimes a trial but they will often have gut instincts whether you get on. They will normally make a decision based on personality rather than qualifications.”

Raffaele Riviezzo: ‘You give your life to these people’

Starting his career in hotels aged just 14, Mr Riviezzo was invited to join the household of Italy’s famous Innocenti family – creators of the Lambretta scooter. He also served for eight years with the fashion designer Valentino and later worked for a branch of the Morattis, owners of Inter Milan. He is currently working temporarily for an American employer in London. His teenage son and daughter live in Rome. He speaks French, English and Italian.

Mr Riviezzo, 49, said: “You have to be flexible and be able to do everything. You give your life to these people. I work a minimum of 13-14 hours a day, every day. This is my first day off in 10 days. It is the type of job that is really hard. I get perhaps £700 a week. I wake up at 6.30am and I go by myself to prepare breakfast for 8.30am.

At 12.30pm there is lunch and at 7.30pm it is a drink with some different appetisers every day. Then at 8.30pm it is dinner. I do the shopping and I cook Italian food. When I finish I go to bed. I have just one housekeeper. She is here for eight hours and the rest of the day I am alone.

Before it was different. I was a manager in big households with a lot of staff under me. There were houses all over the world – in London, St Moritz, New York, Rio de Janeiro.

For me it is not a problem. I just like to work for nice people. I don’t mind if they are English, Indian or Italian.”

Posted October 18, 2010 by dmacc502 in Britain, Domestic, history

Tagged with , , , , ,