An interesting article in the Guardian about Felicia Browne, fellow artist, Artists International Association member and friend of Pictures for Schools founder Nan Youngman, whose death in the Spanish civil war politicised Youngman according to her autobiography.
Harlow got a mixed press in the 1950s. To some, it was ‘Pram Town’, a tribute to the preponderance of young families who had moved there and perhaps, by extension, to the new life that this New Town heralded. To others, it was little more than an urban prairie, one which left an unfortunate pedestrian ‘with a feeling of hopelessness in face of a terrifying eternity of wideness’. (1) Let’s look more sympathetically at the ideals which inspired it and, with the benefit of distance, at its successes and failures.
The Market Square during a royal visit, November 1957
Harlow, like Stevenage and the six other New Towns located around the periphery of London, was born in the confluence of two powerful currents. The first, the belief in planning – that society and the economy should be rationally organised to benefit all – had emerged as the inhumanity of Victorian…
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Last week’s post looked at the origins of Harlow New Town and the architectural and planning ideals – sharply criticised by some – which inspired it. It was, in every sense, a young town but it’s grown up since then. This post explores what became of the high hopes.
Frederick Gibberd ‘showing the New Town plans’, 1952
By 1954, the first of Harlow’s major neighbourhood areas – Mark Hall North – was largely complete and it boasted a population of 17,000. The work on the town centre began – belatedly it might seem – the following year. Within a further five years, as the Great Parndon and Passmores districts were built, around three-quarters of the New Town was complete and a further 35,000 had made it home. Further construction followed more slowly – the 24,000th new home of the Harlow Development Corporation (HDC) was opened in Little Cattins, Sumners…
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I’ve written an appreciation of two sacred and secular 1960s murals by Pictures for Schools contributing artist Steven Sykes, in Coventry Cathedral and New Century Hall in Manchester, for the latest issue of the modernist magazine, which is themed ‘Faith’.
To purchase the magazine (which has inexplicably renamed Steven Sykes ‘David’ in the title) visit www.the-modernist.org/faith.