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Seaside Seduction: How the Moderns lost their stays

9th September 2020 at 7:00 pm - 31st January 2021 at 12:00 am

It gives me great pleasure to introduce our first lecture of the 2020/2021 lecture series and also our first online lecture. Online lectures have several advantages over the traditional format - not least that you can listen to them several times if you wish.

Many members will remember Alan Powers' engaging lecture on John Piper's Brighton Aquatints in 2018. This thought-provoking follow up contextualises Piper in the artistic and architectural traditions  and  wider attitudes of the 1930s.

If you would like to ask a question after the lecture, please send it by email to Roger Hinton using this link. Roger will pass your question on to Alan who has kindly agreed to take questions in this way.

If you would like to see the lecture in full screen, click on the box in the bottom right hand corner once the video is running.

Mary McKean (Chair)

This online lecture is available on this page at the time shown above. It will also be available on the Regency Society's Youtube channel for as long as the lecturer is happy for it to be available.

You can read more about the Regency Society's use of Youtube here.

For adherents of Modernism between the wars, man-made intrusions by the seaside were problematic. Artist John Piper began by celebrating ’The Nautical Style’ - his definition of a tough, native vernacular of form. His friends John Betjeman and Osbert Lancaster came to mock in poetry and drawings, but soon fell in love with the absurdity of Victorian excess in buildings and street furnishings, and Piper shared their delight, as his Brighton Aquatints of 1939 make clear.

Even if disciplined buildings such as Wells Coates’s Embassy Court took their place along the promenade, the most ardent Modernists were still apt to be seduced by the frivolity and exuberance of their supposed adversary. Perhaps, as Noel Coward so memorably put it, ‘It doesn’t do to be too la-di-bloody-da in the bar on the Piccola Marina.’

Alan Powers is an expert on 20th century architecture and a prolific author and curator. He was professor of Architecture at the University of Greenwich and teaches at the London campus of New York University and the London School of Architecture.  He is an honorary Fellow of the RIBA and a prominent member and former chair of the Twentieth Century Society.

Images by Osbert Lancaster


9th September 2020 at 7:00 pm
January 31 at 12:00 am