Thursday 28 February 2013

Titanic II Return of a Legend.

Australian Tycoon who wants to build replica of the Titanic announces that he will unveil design plans at gala dinner in New York

-Mining magnate Clive Palmer hopes to launch Titanic II in 2016

-He will unveil plans at a gala dinner on board aircraft carrier USS Intrepid

-The menu will be the same as that served on the Titanic on the day it sank

-Design will retain the first, second and third-class divisions of the original

-First voyage will be from China where it will be built to Southampton


PUBLISHED: 15:01 GMT, 4 October 2012 /

The Australian tycoon planning to build a replica of the Titanic says he will unveil designs for his new liner at a gala dinner in New York in December.
Flamboyant billionaire Clive Palmer originally announced plans to build 'Titanic II' - a cruise ship with the same dimensions as its ill-fated predecessor - in April this year.
He will hold a dinner on the retired aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, moored in New York, on December 4 when he will unveil the designs with the help of John F. Kennedy's daughter Caroline.
Among those attending will be the former US president's daughter, his sister Jean Kennedy Smith and New York Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson along with leading US business leaders, Palmer said.
They will be treated to a dinner from the same menu as Titanic passengers on the day it sank on April 12, 1912. 'It will be a chance for the business community of the United States and indeed the world to see the wonderful progress that's been made on our Titanic II project,' Palmer said.
'Since we announced our plan in April we've had a huge amount of interest, particularly from people wanting to know how they can secure a booking for the maiden voyage, along with commercial sponsors.'
The first voyage remains set for 2016, with the boat due to sail from China, where it will be built, to Southampton in England ahead of her maiden passenger journey to New York.
The new ship will mirror its predecessor's dimensions -- measuring 270 metres long (885 feet), 53 metres high and weighing 40,000 tonnes.
It will have 840 rooms and nine decks and retain the first, second and third-class divisions of the original.
Palmer extended an invitation for James Cameron to sail on the ship, saying the Titanic director had complained there were no Titanic-related experiences left for him.
'Well James, this is something you can do,' he said.
Mr Palmer built a fortune on real estate on Australia's Gold Coast tourist strip before becoming a coal mining magnate. More than 1,300 passengers perished when the Titanic hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage on April 12, 1912. Earlier this year, a memorial cruise carrying relatives of Titanic victims among its 1,309 passengers, the same number as on the doomed ship – set sail from Southampton for the Titanic’s wreck site.
BRW magazine reported he was Australia's fifth-richest person last year with an estimated fortune of more than AUS$5billion (£3.2billion).
Mr Palmer said at an earlier press conference that previous attempts to build a Titanic replica failed because proponents failed to raise enough money and commission a shipyard.
The new nine-deck, 840-room ship will be constructed to the same dimensions as the Belfast-built White Star Liner - 270 metres long, 53 metres high and weighing 40,000 tonnes.
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Clive Palmer first announced the project in a press conference on 30 April 2012, following the signature of a memorandum of understanding with state-owned Chinese shipyard CSC Jinling ten days before. On 19 June, it was announced that Finnish naval architecture firm Deltamarin had been commissioned to undertake the design of the ship, and on 17 July a preliminary general arrangement was published.
In October 2012, Blue Star Lines announced that Titanic expert Steve Hall had been appointed as Design Consultant and Historian for the project, and that Titanic interiors expert Daniel Klistorner had been appointed as Interior Design Consultant and Historian.[Hall and Klistorner had previously co-authored books such as Titanic: The Ship Magnificent and Titanic in Photographs, and will give a technical presentation at the unveiling of the designs in New York, as well as at the dinner in London.
Later that month, it was announced that an advisory board would be formed to provide "suggestions and recommendations to Blue Star Line to ensure the Titanic II appropriately and respectfully pays homage to Titanic, her crew and passengers." Terry Ismay, the great-great nephew of White Star Line chairman and Titanic survivor Joseph Ismay will be a member of the board, as well as Helen Benziger, great-granddaughter of Titanic survivor Margaret Brown.
The design for the Titanic II was unveiled at a private event aboard the USS Intrepid in New York City on 26 February 2013. There will also be a dinner held at the Natural History Museum in London on 2 March, which will be accompanied by a display of items salvaged from the Titanic, as well as in Southampton on 5 March.

A New Titanic on the Drawing Board, but Where’s the Captain?


Published: February 19, 2013 in The New York Times /

MACAU — The gala was a grand affair: hundreds of well-dressed guests, lots of musical entertainment, a meal replicating the 11-course feast served to first-class passengers on the Titanic the night it sank and the promise of meeting the wealthy Australian who plans to rebuild not just the menu, but the entire ship.
Just one thing was missing Saturday at the event in Macau: the host, Clive Palmer, a self-made multimillionaire — multibillionaire by some reckonings — who is funding the venture. Mr. Palmer, a larger-than-life character who is as colorful as he is vocal, said he had been held up on other business in Australia.
For most entrepreneurs, a project of this sort — experts estimate the ship, to be constructed in the Chinese city of Nanjing, could cost more than $200 million — would be the focus of their travel and business plans.
Mr. Palmer, however, is a busy man.
“Yes, I was sorry to miss the event, but I got caught up in a meeting on another new project,” Mr. Palmer said by phone from Brisbane on Sunday, adding that the project had to do neither with mining, the cornerstone of his considerable wealth, nor with shipping, but something “completely new.”
Mr. Palmer’s business empire is all over the map. He owns five golf courses in Australia and three resorts, including one in Tahiti.
He has mining and other natural resource assets of the sort that form a large part of the Australian economy. Among them are a nickel refinery and large tracts of land containing coal and iron ore deposits in the states of Queensland and Western Australia.
Then there are the 150 racehorses, five corporate jets and more than 100 vintage cars, which he is planning to exhibit at one of his resorts later this year. Oh, and there is also a large and growing collection of dinosaur models, among them a life-size Tyrannosaurus rex that looms over one of his golf courses.
Despite that varied portfolio, the Titanic project has been greeted with raised eyebrows — in part because of Mr. Palmer’s overall image in Australia as a brash, eccentric entrepreneur.
“In a way, people don’t take him seriously,” said a mining analyst in Sydney, who declined to be identified because he does not formally analyze Mr. Palmer’s business dealings. “You have to discount much of what he says and does with many grains of salt.”
Underlining the split emotions over Mr. Palmer, the Australian National Trust last year added him to its list of National Living Treasures, which includes people like Nicole Kidman; Kylie Minogue; and Paul Keating, a former prime minister of Australia.
The decision brought a fair amount of uproar in Australia.
“There is a sort of grudging respect for him,” said Jason West, a former investment banker who is now an associate professor at Griffith University in Brisbane. “It is very hard to get a handle on him and his business empire,” Mr. West added, “but he has an eye for value — no doubt about it.”Mr. Palmer is also both outspoken and litigious. Political quarrels, for example, prompted him in November to quit the Liberal National Party, of which he had been a member for many years. And on the legal front, Mr. Palmer has begun legal proceedings against Citic Pacific, a Chinese company working to extract iron ore from one of his sites in Western Australia, over the timing of royalty payments due to him.
Mr. Palmer, 58, dropped out of law school and began his working life as a real estate agent.
Most of his wealth stems from the purchases of land that holds iron and coal, whose prices later soared, thanks largely to the ravenous appetite of China. Mr. Palmer’s acquisition of a nickel refinery from the mining giant BHP Billiton turned out to be similarly clever — or lucky — analysts say. Nickel prices climbed after the purchase and the refinery now turns a nice profit. Not all his plans materialize, however. A stock market listing of Resourcehouse, an entity grouping Mr. Palmer’s coal and iron ore assets, was planned in Hong Kong, but pulled in 2011. Meanwhile, the coal sites in Queensland, eastern Australia, require huge investments before coal can actually be mined and shipped.
“There are significant challenges to convert an empty paddock into an operating mine,” said Mr. West of Griffith University. As for the Titanic II, as Mr. Palmer has christened the ship, if all goes according to plan, it will take to the sea by 2016. It will be equipped with high-technology engines, modern conveniences like air-conditioning, 840 cabins and, of course, more lifeboats than the original.
In another big departure from the original — and one that reflects Mr. Palmer’s business ties with Chinese companies — the Titanic II will be built by CSC Jinling Shipyard, a Chinese state-owned company that is also building four bulk carriers for Mr. Palmer’s nickel business. A big reason to commission the Titanic II was to give his Chinese partner the chance to prove itself in the cruise-ship-building business, Mr. Palmer said. China, he said, holds a “dominant position in the cargo business, but they have less than 2 percent in passenger ships.”
The Titanic II, with its universal appeal, Mr. Palmer said, “could become a national showcase for China” and demonstrate that the country has the technical ability to build ships for that segment of the market.
Already, interest among potential passengers has been intense, though construction has not even started.
Blue Star Line, the company managing the Titanic II project, has received tens of thousands of inquiries, and half a dozen people from around the globe have offered to pay more than $1 million to be on the vessel’s maiden voyage, James McDonald, the marketing director, said at a news conference in Hong Kong on Saturday before the Macau gala.
Whether the ship will ever sail, let alone generate cash, remains to be seen.
“At my age, you don’t really worry that much about whether you make money or lose money on something,” Mr. Palmer said. “But I’m pretty convinced that it will be a financial bonanza.”
Kees Metselaar for the International Herald Tribune

A recorded message from Clive Palmer, the tycoon behind the Titanic II project, was played at a press conference in Hong Kong last week. Mr. Palmer also skipped a gala in Macau that was held to promote the project.

 Comparison with the original Titanic
The ship is being designed to be as similar in internal and external appearance to the Titanic as possible. However, modern safety regulations and economic considerations will dictate several major changes to the design, including:
Greater beam for enhanced stability
Welded, not riveted, hull[
 Reduced draught
Bulbous bow for higher fuel efficiency, although moderately sized compared to modern ships[
Stabilisers to reduce roll
Diesel engines driving azimuth thrusters to replace the original coal-fired steam engines
An additional 'safety deck' between C and D decks for modern lifeboats and marine evacuation systems, with the boat deck housing replicas of the original lifeboats. Space for the deck has been made by lowering decks D and below by 2.8 meters, and for the taller centre section of the safety deck, which houses the lifeboats, by raising the superstructure by 1.3 meters. In spite of the reduced draft, space has been made for the lowered decks by removing the orlop deck, which mainly housed the boilers.
New 'escape staircases' in addition to the original staircases, housed in the redundant boiler exhaust uptakes.
Viewing decks in the redundant first two funnels.
No sheer or camber,[ unlike the original. Pronounced sheer was a cosmetic feature of ocean liners, intended to add a graceful appearance to the ship, but made construction more difficult and therefore costly. Renderings released in February 2013 show an upwards rake added to C Deck at the bow and stern to give a superficial appearance of sheer, although an inauthentic wedge-shaped gap has had to be added between C and D decks in these areas to produce this effect.
A higher bridge, as the superstructure has been raised by 1.3 meters by the centre section of the safety deck, and also by the removal of the sheer. This negates the requirement on the original Titanic for lookouts.

 The steam engines and coal-fired boilers of the original Titanic have been replaced with a modern diesel-electric propulsion system. The space which housed the boilers will be used for crew quarters and ships systems. Power will be produced by four Wärtsilä 46F medium-speed four-stroke diesel generating sets; two twelve-cylinder 12V46F engines producing 14,400 kilowatts (19,300 hp) each, and two eight-cylinder 8L46F engines producing 9,600 kilowatts (12,900 hp) each, running on heavy fuel oil and marine gas oil.Propulsion will be by one fixed propeller and two azimuth thrusters which will also be used for manoeuvring, while the replica of the rudder of the Titanic is purely cosmetic, and will not extend substantially below the waterline.

The interior of the ship is intended to be as similar as possible to the original. However, the original wooden panelling does not conform to modern fire regulations, so as in RMS Queen Elizabeth 2, veneers will have to be used. Plans show a layout broadly similar to the original, but with the third-class cabins modernised, and consideration being given to en-suite cabins throughout the ship. The room freed up by eliminating the steam boilers of the original ship will be used for crew quarters and various services.

If built, the Titanic II would represent the first major passenger vessel constructed in China, a country with much more experience of building cargo ships than cruise ships, and a significant investment would be required to ensure it meets the much more stringent safety requirements for passenger vessels.
The Chinese state-owned CSC Jinling shipyard has never built a large passenger vessel. In addition, it has no drydock, instead using side launching from a 200m slipway. The 269m Titanic II would be the largest side-launched vessel in history by a huge margin, and would require a significant extension to the shipyard's facilities.
Representatives from the shipyard have questioned whether the ship can be completed by 2016, and emphasize that no contract has yet been signed.
Clive Palmer has been described as an 'eccentric billionare' with a reputation for bizarre publicity stunts, such as the attempt to create a massive Jurassic Park style dinosaur theme park at his golf resort. It has also been noted that the publicity surrounding the Titanic II coincided with Palmer's announcement of his entry in to Australian federal politics, which was made immediately following the Titanic II conference.Palmer had previously claimed that he was the target of a conspiracy involving Barack Obama, the CIA, the Rockefeller Foundation and Greenpeace, who he believed were attempting to close down his mining operation. In 2010, Palmer started a company called Zeppelin International, with the intention of making a commercially viable Zeppelin.[After the plan came to nothing, it was ridiculed as the 'bizarre move of the year' by Australian business website Smartcompany.[ He has gained a reputation in Australia for floating ambitious and unusual business ideas which he fails to see through, and the Titanic II has been described as 'a classic Clive Palmer announcement'.

Titanic Replica Being Built By Australian Billionaire - Titanic 2

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Goodyear welted‏ ...

A welt is a strip of leather, rubber, or plastic that is stitched to the upper and insole of a shoe, as an attach-point for the sole. The space enclosed by the welt is then filled with cork or some other filler material (usually either porous or perforated, for breathability), and the outsole is both cemented and stitched to the welt. This process of making shoes is referred to as Goodyear welt construction, as the machinery used for the process was invented in 1869 by Charles Goodyear, Jr. the son of Charles Goodyear. Shoes with other types of construction may also have welts for finished appearance, but they generally serve little or no structural purpose.
Welt is also the name of the upper part of a stocking. A fabric is knitted separately and machine-sewn to the top of the stocking. Knit in a heavier denier yarn and folded double, the welt gives strength for supporter fastening.
The Goodyear welt process is the traditional method for the manufacture of mens dress shoes, taking its name from the inventor who devised the original machine to replace the earlier completely hand sewn method. The benefit of a dress shoe which is made using the Goodyear welt construction is that the shoe can be resoled repeatedly, giving the shoe a lifespan of years, sometimes even decades. Some claims towards added ventilation have been made as well, but there are no proven studies comparing the breathability of different shoe construction methods. Most probably, the materials play the largest part in the ventilation issue.
Essentially, the upper part of the dress shoe is shaped over the last and fastened on by sewing a leather, linen or synthetic strip (also known as the "welt") to the inner and upper sole. As well as using a welt, a thread is used to hold the material firmly together.
The welt forms a cavity which is then filled with a cork material. The final part of the shoe is the sole which is attached to the welt of the shoe by some combination of stitching along the edge of the welt and sole, and a high strength adhesive like contact cement or hide glue. The Goodyear welt is highly regarded for a number of reasons including being relatively waterproof by not allowing water to get into the insole due to the welt-sole construction, the relative ease in which the sole can be replaced, and the fact that the shoe can last up to 20 years or longer depending on the treatment and condition of the upper.
The very nature of this shoe construction means that Goodyear welted dress shoes take much longer to manufacture than cheaper alternatives. Factories commonly hire scores of highly skilled operators to create dress shoes of comfort and durability. However, Goodyear welted construction is the chosen method for some highly reputable brands in the shoe industry, for example: Alden, Alfred Sargent, Allen Edmonds, Barker, Boulet Boots, Brooks Brothers, Caterpillar (CAT), Cheaney, Chippewa, Church, Crockett & Jones, Dr. Martens, Florsheim, George Cleverley (RTW), Grenson Ltd, Loake Shoes, Oliver Grey, Oliver Sweeney, Red Wing Boots, Timberland and Wolverine.

Santalum Video - Handmade goodyear welted construction

Monday 25 February 2013

I say! What a bounder...The Life, sublime style and sartorial excellence of Terry Thomas the ultimate chap ...personification of the upper class cad ... the rotter’s rotter ...

 Man who makes today's rotters look an absolute shower
A tribute to Terry-Thomas, an actor who played the cad to perfection and who would have been 100 this week.
By Max Davidson7:30AM BST 15 Jul 2011 in The Telegraph /

Terry-Thomas knew how to make an entrance. In 1928, as a 17-year-old straight out of school, he turned up for his first day of work as a clerk at Smithfield market wearing an olive-green pork pie hat, a taupe double-breasted suit decorated with a clove carnation, a multi-coloured tie and yellow gloves. He had a cigarette-holder in one hand and a silver-topped cane in the other. Stall-holders stopped and stared.
Standing out from the crowd, on screen and off, became his stock-in-trade. There have been many finer actors than Terry-Thomas, who would have been 100 this week, but very few who carved such a distinctive niche.
He was 45 by the time he made his breakthrough, playing the memorably fatuous Major Hitchcock in Private’s Progress, but after that he never looked back. He made more than 50 films, many of them comic classics. As a giver of laughter, he was out of the top drawer.
Nobody minded that he played the same character again and again. The actor and the man blended into one, a quintessentially English cocktail of dandyishness and dastardliness, done with the lightest of touches. A Terry-Thomas cameo had the insouciant charm of a P G Wodehouse novel.
To British cinema-goers of the 1950s and 1960s, he was as instantly recognisable as Kenneth Williams or Sid James. That gap-toothed smile. That scruffy moustache, like a slug on the upper lip. Those inimitable catch-phrases. “You’re an absolute shower.” “Jolly good show.” “Hard cheese.” That indefinable air of untrustworthiness…
He looked impressive. How could you not trust a man who was so immaculately turned out, from the gleaming shoes to the carnation in the button-hole? But you counted the spoons when he was gone. He was in the great English tradition of the non-gentleman posing as gentleman and coming within a whisker of pulling it off.
In his heyday, Terry-Thomas cornered the market in cads and bounders – words that are long past their sell-by date but evoke a vanished age of genteel skulduggery, where chaps did the dirty on other chaps because that was how chaps got on in life.
He was born Thomas Terry Hoar Stevens, the son of a small-time company director – several rungs down the social ladder from the upper-class characters with which he became associated. But that was all part of the fun. Sir Cuthbert Ware-Armitage, Sir Harry Washington-Smythe… Casting directors looking for someone to play a disreputable scion of the English aristocracy knew who to ring.
As an actor, he was typecast and, to an extent, paid the consequences. His roles in 1960s classics such as Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines and Monte Carlo or Bust were simply extensions of roles he had first played 10 years earlier, with films such as I’m All Right Jack. But it is a tribute to the skill with which Terry-Thomas honed his craft that he was in demand far beyond his natural stamping ground.
Unlike a lot of British character actors, whose style of comedy did not survive the Atlantic crossing, he was a big hit in Hollywood, playing a British Army officer in Stanley Kramer’s hit comedy It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and Jack Lemmon’s valet in How to Murder Your Wife. He also, improbably, enjoyed a cult following in France, after playing an RAF officer with a particularly luxurious moustache in La Grande Vadrouille.
There was no real malice in the man. The characters Terry-Thomas played could no more have committed murder than flown to the Moon. They were knaves rather than villains. And if you laughed at them, rather than with them, you laughed at them with affection. They were much too colourful to hate.
English fiction is littered with colourful rogues, from Shakespeare’s Falstaff to George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman: chancers and charlatans who tell fib after fib but get away with them because they fib with style. With Terry-Thomas, the style derived partly from his dandyish appearance, but mainly from his distinctive Jekyll-and-Hyde personality: all affability on the surface, his face a rictus of bonhomie, all shiftiness and calculation underneath.
In a golden age for rotters – sharp-elbowed types in dodgy blazers, driving flash cars they could not afford – he was the rotter’s rotter. There were a lot of Terry-Thomases in the 1950s. They had not had good wars but, if they played their cards right, insisted on being calling Major, and wore a regimental tie at the golf club, they could enjoy a certain cachet. They could bluff for Britain. Terry-Thomas caught their affectations and insecurities to a T.
For an actor who gave pleasure to millions, he was cruelly recompensed by fate. In 1971 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. His last film role came in 1978 and, for a time, he lived in obscurity and penury. A fund-raising gala raised £75,000, which helped him keep his head above water, but his last years were as distressing for his friends and family as they were for the actor himself, who died in 1990.
At least, through his screen performances, he had secured his immortality. Just as the Carry On films are remembered with an affection which is out of all proportion to their quality, so the broad-brush humour at which Terry-Thomas excelled has weathered changing fashions in comedy.
For as long as there are cads who blag their way to the best table in the restaurant, pinch their best pals’ girlfriends, and write cheques that bounce like pogo-sticks, the sight of Terry-Thomas will always raise a knowing smile. Or, as he would have put it himself: “Jolly good show.

I say! What a bounder... All dandy comic legend Terry-Thomas really liked was 'jolly eager girls'
UPDATED: 22:44 GMT, 5 September 2008 in The Daily Mail /

Terry-Thomas, the gap-toothed comedian who found fame and fortune personifying the archetypal English bounder, was as passionate about clothes as he was about women.
His specially-made suits came from Savile Row, his shirt and ties from Jermyn Street and, at one point, even his underpants were tailor-made.
He was a great believer in the finishing touches  -  the suede shoes had to be perfect, as did his button-hole carnation, and, despite the fact that he gave up smoking at the end of World War II, he always carried a long cigarette holder as a sort of elegant personal prop.
So when in 1960, at the height of his carefully nurtured fame, he came off stage after giving a midnight charity performance at the Liverpool Odeon to discover that his most expensive holder  -  a flashy little number decorated with 42 diamonds and a gold spiral band, reputedly worth £2,000  -  had disappeared from his dressing room, he was livid.
The Liverpool police soon tracked down two of the diamonds to a local man called Alan Williams.
The other 40, however, were found inside a roll of carpet at the home of a 20-year-old, unemployed comedian called James Joseph Tarbuck.
Jimmy Tarbuck, whose 'Boom-Boom' catch phrase would soon become as famous as Terry-Thomas's 'I say!', pleaded guilty to theft and was placed on probation for two years.
At the trial, it emerged that the desperately ambitious Tarbuck had sought out Thomas before the show, begging for the chance to make an appearance.
The star, however, turned him down, pointing out that 'we have too many artistes already' and that it would be 'madness to put anybody else on'.
Thomas's snub was both typical and atypical of the man. It was typical because he fervently believed that meticulous preparation was the only way to ensure the 'really jolly good' show he always aimed to put on.
Slipping in an additional act at the last minute was definitely not the T-T way. But it was also atypical because T-T was normally the most generous of performers.
Throughout his career  -  whether on radio shows such as To Town With Terry, television's How Do You View? or films such as I'm All Right, Jack and It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World  -  if he thought a scene or sketch would be funnier if he did less and other actors did more, he'd happily trade them his best lines.
He knew what his sometimes unwitting costars did not; that what the public would go away remembering was another very funny show with that lovely Terry-Thomas in it.
Had he spent a little more time with Tarbuck, he might have recognised a fellow young comedian struggling to escape his origins, just as he himself had set about doing so enthusiastically some 40 years earlier.
But while Tarbuck made a virtue of his working class origins in Liverpool, Thomas Terry Hoar Stevens did everything possible to forget that he had been born, the fourth of five children, in 1911, in what he considered the criminally dull London suburb of North Finchley and that his father worked at Smithfield meat market, albeit more as a bowler-hatted and modestly well-off provisions merchant than a blood-spattered meat porter.
An out-and-out snob 'even as a nipper', young Thomas Stevens felt he had been the victim of some kind of genetic mix-up that, instead of delivering him to the glorious, glamorous, golden corner of England where he felt he belonged, had dumped him into the mundane, mediocre, lower-middle-class milieu of Finchley.
It did not seem fair; it did not seem right.
From an early age, young Tom did everything he could to ensure he would escape. By the age of ten, he'd replaced his North London accent with the crisply modulated tones of the then well known stage and cinema actor Owen Nares, a matinee idol who sounded like he'd spent most of his adult life ensconced in London's snootiest gentlemen's clubs.

That was exactly the impression that Tom, already beguiled by the comic novels of P.G. Wodehouse, wanted to give.
The transformation of Thomas Stevens into Terry Thomas had begun.
Unlike many comedians, T-T was a naturally funny man who loved to entertain an audience.
And it was as a young teenager that Tom discovered and developed this talent  -  he danced, sang, did impressions, recited comic monologues and generally played the gap-toothed 'giddy goat'.
It seemed to work. 'My family thought I was the funniest person in the world,' he would recall.
A regular in the audience at the Hippodrome in Golders Green and at his local Odeon, young Tom studied each performer and learnt to mimic whatever they did, wore or said.
He was particularly drawn to fine clothes, admiring the immaculate suiting of Douglas Fairbanks Sr, the Hollywood star known for his love of British tailoring, and longing to wear a monocle, like the Austrian actor and director Erich von Stroheim.
He could afford none of these things, but dreamed of the day when he could.
School was generally not a success, although he exhibited an early talent for memorising both lines and lyrics. Concerned for their son's future, his parents somehow found the money to send him to Ardingly College in West Sussex, a proper public school that had stern-looking, gown-wearing tutors and its fair share of bonafide toffs.
It could have been disastrous and T-T would later acknowledge it came as 'something of a shock'  -  but he responded with a bold and sustained show of 'chutzpah', entirely in keeping with the phrase that would become his motto in life: 'I shall not be cowed.'
He found artful little ways to embellish his drab uniform, caught the ear with his accent and the eye with his antics, particularly among the school's jazz fraternity who regarded him as 'the funny chap with the gift of the gab'.
'I would do anything to attract attention,' he admitted: 'The satisfaction I got when I made people laugh was indescribably potent.'
The die was well and truly cast.
Leaving Ardingly at 16 and eventually persuaded to join his father at Smithfield, Tom didn't so much embrace the world of work as toy with it.
From his very first day, he refused to blend in, turning up  -  straight-backed and 6ft tall  -  sporting an olive-green pork-pie hat, a taupe double-breasted suit with a carnation, a multi-coloured tie and yellow wash-leather gloves, twiddling a long cigarette holder with one hand and twirling a silver-topped Malacca cane with the other.
It was, he would later recall, 'the first, fine, florid rapture' of his adult dandyism.
His unique personal style would stay with him as, at the age of 18, he made his professional debut as a 'cheerer-upper' at a social evening organised by the Electric Railwaymen's Dining Club in South Kensington.
He received few laughs from his boozy audience, but was paid 30 shillings for his efforts.
Success did not arrive overnight, but his life-long love of women and sex certainly did.
Having lost his virginity at the age of 17 to his family's young and willing Cornish housekeeper, he was rarely without a girl at his side.
And when, a few years later, his work as a film extra, professional ballroom dancer and even jazz ukulele player had enabled him to rent a flat in St John's Wood, a succession of 'jolly eager girls' moved in to keep him company.
T-T even tried writing a young man's guide to modern sexual etiquette, before deciding more empirical research  -  especially on the subject of 'deep-bosomed women'  -  would be required before completion.
He changed his stage name to Terry Thomas (no hyphen as yet) in 1938, believing he needed something snappier than Thomas Stevens. It seemed to work. He not only made his radio debut on the BBC but married Ida 'Pat' Patlanski, a tall, dark-haired South African ballet dancer and choreographer with whom he had recently established a new flamenco-inspired cabaret double act.
The marriage endured but, alas, fidelity did not. Pat, Terry soon discovered, had been having casual affairs since the earliest days of their marriage, so now he too began to think relatively little of being unfaithful. Tit for tat, he called it.
It took World War II to transform Terry's career, as it did for a whole generation of comedians.
He and Pat were in the first wave of performers to sign up to the new Entertainment National Service Association (ENSA) being set up by the film producer Basil Dean, although it had to be said one of the main attractions to Terry of the first tour of not-yet- occupied northern France was a young singer called Marilyn Miller.
Marilyn, according to Terry, was blessed with 'long legs, deep bosoms, a beautiful classic face and a stunning complexion' and, with Pat conveniently dispatched back to Britain, the couple were often to be found in Terry's room, ' rehearsing new numbers'.
In 1942 he was called up and unexpectedly made quite a success of being a soldier, even being promoted to corporal in the Royal Corps of Signals.
However, when old problems with his stomach and ears resulted in his health being downgraded from A1 to B1 at the beginning of 1943 he seized the opportunity to join the newly formed touring revues known as Stars In Battledress.
He never looked back, taking his own unit (as a newly promoted sergeant) all over Britain and most parts of occupied Europe, even occasionally sneaking off to make an unbilled appearance, quite illegally, on the West End cabaret circuit where more sophisticated material could be attempted and a better quality of brandy imbibed.
Colleagues were impressed and intimidated by his work ethic when it came to conjuring comedy. 'The only time old Terry is really serious,' said one, 'is when he's putting on a show  -  he's worse than any sergeant major.'
After demobilisation  -  and initially thanks to the contacts he had made during his Stars In Battledress days  -  Terry's career took off, and he won his own show on the BBC's Home Service, the variety show To Town With Terry.
But his biggest break  -  and one that would change the face of television comedy  -  came in 1949 when a rather raffish-looking man walked up so close to the camera that his face filled the screen. 'How do you view?' he inquired with a gap-toothed grin. 'Are you frightfully well? You are? Oh, good show.'
That man, of course, was Terry-Thomas, the newly inserted hyphen apparently there to tie the two names together. 'They didn't mean much apart,' he argued. 'Together they made a trade name.'
The next 15 years were a glorious time for T-T. When the groundbreaking How Do You View?, which was the first real television comedy series, came to an end after five runs and his television career faltered, his film career took off.
His first Hollywood picture, Bachelor Flat, was not a great success, but all the hard work T-T had put in to creating his extraordinary-public persona soon paid off.
His roguish version of the archetypal Englishman was exactly what Hollywood wanted and his reward was a series of tasty parts in films such as the star-studded It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World and How To Murder Your Wife, for which he was paid £100,000. The equivalent fee today would be about £3 million.
These were glory years, with good parts, huge money and lucrative advertisements all rolling in. In 1962, he even married again, just after he was finally, officially, divorced from Pat.
But he didn't marry Lorrae Desmond, the Australian singer and actress who had been his constant companion for seven years and who T-T once described as the 'sexiest person' he had ever met and the most 'dedicated woman in bed'.
Instead, he overcame a 26-year age gap to marry the girl who had consoled him when his relationship with Lorrae broke down, 21-year-old Belinda Cunningham, a lieutenant-colonel's daughter from Lincolnshire.
Her father was initially appalled, but Belinda would remain with T-T for the rest of his life, bear him two sons  -  Tiger and Cushan  -  and help him build an idyllic home on the newly fashionable island of Ibiza, where she would occasionally surprise visitors by emerging from the swimming pool stark naked.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, T-T spoilt his young wife rotten.
'Whatever Belinda and I wanted, we bought. And we wanted the lot. We knew the fat cheques would last for ever.'
But they didn't, of course. In 1971, while touring Australia, a doctor giving him a routine check-up asked T-T if had noticed his left hand was trembling slightly.
He hadn't.
Back in London, his GP immediately sent him to see a neurological specialist. The news was not good. At the age of 59, he had Parkinson's Disease.
His cousin, the actor Richard Briers, was there when T-T broke the news to his family at their South Kensington flat. Briers says: 'Terry raised a glass of champagne and smiled, but then said: "I have to tell you that I have £1 million, after tax, in the bank  -  but I've got bloody Parkinson's." '
It was the beginning of a long, slow and particularly cruel decline that would leave the great raconteur silent and virtually penniless and his poor wife physically and psychologically exhausted.
He continued to work sporadically throughout the Seventies, but the disease took its toll. In 1977, concerned by gossip that he had a drink problem, T-T went public with the real explanation for his slurred speech and constant stumbles.
He even recorded a moving appeal on BBC television for funds for those engaged in Parkinson's research.
Slowly, the public Terry-Thomas  -  the endearing rogue that British audiences had loved for more than 30 years  -  slipped from view.
The Eighties were terrible years. Work was impossible, his fortune eaten up by medical fees, and he needed constant care. In 1988, T-T and Belinda crept back to Britain and set up home in a small unfurnished flat in Barnes.
Briers remembers visiting them and being shocked by what he saw. 'He was just sitting there, motionless; a crippled, crushed shadow. It was really bloody awful.'
When news got out of T-T's plight, showbiz friends rallied round to hold one of the biggest benefit nights London had ever seen, raising almost £100,000, half of which was sufficient for T-T to spend his final days in comfort at a nursing home in Surrey, the other half going to the Parkinson's Disease Society.
The end came on the morning of January 8, 1990. Aged 78, Terry-Thomas, the greatest British bounder in showbiz history, was dead.
• Adapted from BOUNDER by Graham McCann, published by Aurum Press on September 18 at £16.99. Graham McCann 2008. To order a copy at £15.30 (p&p free), call 0845 155 0720.

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Terry Thomas - Heroes of Comedy Part 1

Terry Thomas Heroes of Comedy Part 2

Terry Thomas:Heroes of Comedy Part 3

Terry Thomas: Heroes of Comedy Part 4

Saturday 23 February 2013

Remembering ... Tim Walker: Storyteller, Somerset House, London

AT Sumerset House

Tim Walker: Story Teller

Supported by Mulberry

18 October 2012 - 27 January 2013

Daily 10.00-18.00
East Wing Galleries, East Wing
Free admission
Tim Walker is one of the most visually exciting and influential fashion photographers working today. Extravagant in scale and ambition and instantly recognisable for their eye-opening originality, Walker’s photographs dazzle with life, colour and humour. His recent work is drawn from the pages of the world’s leading magazines: British, French, American and Italian Vogue, Vanity Fair, W and The New Yorker among many others.
Walker’s photographs provided the focus of the exhibition, but the camera, he claims, ‘is simply a box put between you and what you want to capture’. Everything in Walker’s pictures is specially constructed and in a glimpse behind the mechanics, there were installations and a selection of the extraordinary props and models on show: giant grotesque dolls for Italian Vogue and an almost life-size replica of a doomed Spitfire fighter plane.
The photo shoot begins to resemble the film set: hair and make-up artists, fashion stylists and costume fitters, model makers, set designers, builders, producers and painters, prop suppliers and a cast of models playing out imagined roles. At the centre is Walker harnessing creative and technical talents to conjure up the harmonious whole in a singular picture.
 The exhibition was accompanied by a series of events that feature many of Tim Walker’s long-time collaborators and uncover the influences and stories behind his work. There were workshops for all ages offering visitors the opportunity to work with some of the set designers and prop builders who have worked with Tim Walker throughout his career and talks including Tim Walker in Conversation with Penny Martin. Throughout the exhibition there  was also the opportunity to see a series of films specially curated by Tim Walker. Made up of films that have inspired and influenced many of his images, these included cult movies such as La Belle at la Bete, The Red Shoes, A Matter of Life and Death and Tim’s own first feature The Lost Explorer.
To coincide with the exhibition, Thames & Hudson published Story Teller by Tim Walker featuring over 175 inspirational images, collages and snapshots from Walker’s personal archives.
Mulberry continues their support of Tim Walker’s creativity through supporting Story Teller, the exhibition.

Tim Walker: Storyteller, Somerset House, London

 HANNAH DUGUID   MONDAY 22 OCTOBER 2012 in The Independent /

A flying saucer chased by a foxhunt and tables laid for a party and suspended in trees are some of the fashion photographer Tim Walker's more extravagant gestures.

Along with a life-sized aeroplane made of French loaves, and a giant insect playing the cello. It’s a world where magic exists and, though darkness threatens, it is never ugly. Beauty rules here, because it is fashion, after all.

It’s a particularly British aesthetic, an Alice in Wonderland world, where edgier models such as Stella Tennant and Karen Elson lark in the grounds of country houses: a pink dress and roses could not make these girls twee. Like a fairy tale, Walker’s imagination can be creepy - a giant doll kicks a barbed wire fence on which a model is stuck - but it’s never frightening.

Not that all of Walker’s images are elaborate. Quintessentially British celebrities appear: Tilda Swinton wears flying goggles against a cool white background; Alexander McQueen’s only props are two cigarettes, one in his mouth and the other in the mouth of a skull on which he leans; Helena Bonham Carter is dressed as the Queen, sipping a can of coke. Walker’s portraits feel stark as compared to the excesses of his fashion spreads.

Walker has claimed that he’s not interested in taking pictures. He has no nerdy interest in light meters and gadgets, it’s simply about holding the camera up and, click, a perfect image. Like the Vanity Fair photographer Annie Leibovitz, his art lies in his extraordinary ability to create magical sets that capture the imagination, and show off beautiful clothes. His is a truly British arcadia, in which eccentricity is part of the fantasy, like the Mad Hatter’s tea party. He often references fairy tales, the cover image of his Storyteller book, which accompanies the exhibition, shows a model who has cracked Humpty Dumpty in two.

Walker learned his craft in the bowels of Vogue magazine, working on Cecil Beaton’s archive. He went on to assist Richard Avedon in New York. Even though his work is unmistakably contemporary there is nostalgia wthin it, for the leisured class and their rounds of tea parties, rose gardens and fox hunting. So, as the end approaches, why not drink champagne and have one last dance.

To 27 January 2014 (

Mulberry presents Tim Walker in conversation with Penny Martin - Part One

Mulberry presents Tim Walker in conversation with Penny Martin - Part Two

Mulberry presents Tim Walker in conversation with Penny Martin - Part Three

Mulberry presents Tim Walker in conversation with Penny Martin - Part Four

Thursday 21 February 2013

BBC Four “Carved with love: the genius of british woodwork”.

 BBC Four “Carved with love: the genius of british woodwork”

Part 1: The Extraordinary Thomas Chippendale

We begin by exploring the life and work of one of the greatest designers of the 18th century, Thomas Chippendale. Chippendale is the most famous furniture designer the world has ever produced, but what about the man behind the chairs? The film shows how Chippendale worked his way up from humble roots to working for the nobility, but also how he was ruined by the very aristocrats he created such wonders for.

Part 2: The Glorious Grinling Gibbons

We continue by looking at the life and work of Grinling Gibbons. He isn't a household name, but he is the greatest the woodcarver the British Isles ever produced. Working in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London, Gibbons created delightful carved masterpieces for the likes of Charles II and William of Orange. This film explores the genius of the man they called the 'Michelangelo of wood'.

Part 3: The Divine Craft of Carpentry

Concluding episode looking at the Middle Ages, a golden era. Sponsored by the monarchy and the Church, carvers and carpenters created wonders that still astound us today, from the magnificent roof of Westminster Hall to the Coronation Chair, last used by Elizabeth II, but created 700 years ago. The film also shows how this precious legacy was nearly destroyed during the fires of the Reformation.


Series Producer
John Mullen
Paul Copley
Suniti Somaiya
Suniti Somaiya
Executive Producer
Jonty Claypole

Carved with Love: the Genius of British Woodwork - Chippendale expert John Bly.

Carved with Love: the Genius of British Woodwork, BBC Four, review
Sarah Rainey finds BBC Four documentary The Genius of British Woodwork surprisingly uplifting.
By Sarah Rainey10:02PM GMT 10 Jan 2013 in The Telegraph /

Carved with Love: the Genius of British Woodwork (BBC Four) was a jaunty little documentary about Thomas Chippendale, the great 18th-century woodcarver. Now, I don’t know much about woodwork (or at least I didn’t this time yesterday), but this lured me in by nicking the theme tune from The Great British Bake Off.
Sixty minutes of close-ups of chairs, and commodes later, I was hooked.
The show, the first in a four-part series looking at British craftsmanship over the ages, took in Chippendale’s career from his days as a carpenter in Yorkshire to his grand international catalogue, which inspired décor in the homes of George Washington and Catherine the Great. Beautifully filmed inside some of Britain’s most opulent stately homes, it was curiously gripping, with actor Paul Copley’s brilliant, booming voice-over making even a wooden chest sound interesting.
There were facts galore about Chippendale, known as the “High Priest of Mahogany”, insights into long-forgotten techniques (japanning, anyone?) and scenic vistas of the Yorkshire Dales – all of which made for cheery, easy viewing.

It was clearly the first time some of the experts – such as Antiques Roadshow’s John Bly, nearly bursting out of his pinstripe suit as he fondled a chair – had been out of the house for months; and the exquisite furniture seemed to get them flustered. “In some ways it’s a sensual relationship, all these wonderful curves, and I have the pleasure of touching it and stroking it,” said one curator of her favourite cabinet. “It’s seen a lot of action, this desk,” said another.
Admittedy it was slightly dull in places – a bit like a tour of a dusty old museum. But at best, it was weird, wonderful, furniture porn.

Chippendale was the only child of John Chippendale (1690–1768), joiner, and his first wife Mary (née Drake) (1693–1729). He received an elementary education at Prince Henry's Grammar School. The Chippendale family had long been the wood working trades and so he probably received his basic training from his father, though it is believed that he also was trained by Richard Wood in York, before he moved to London. Wood later ordered eight copies of the Director. On 19 May 1748 he married Catherine Redshaw at St George's Chapel, Mayfair and they had five boys and four girls.
In 1749 Chippendale rented a modest house in Conduit Court, near Covent Garden. In 1752 he moved to Somerset Court, off the Strand. In 1754 Chippendale moved to 60–62 St. Martin's Lane in London, where for the next 60 years the family business operated until 1813 when his son, Thomas Chippendale (Junior), was evicted for bankruptcy. In 1754 he also went into partnership with James Rannie, a wealthy Scottish merchant, who put money into the business at the same time as Chippendale brought out the first edition of the Director. Rannie and his bookkeeper, Thomas Haig, probably looked after the finances of the business. His wife, Catherine, died in 1772. After James Rannie died in 1766, Thomas Haig seems to have borrowed £2,000 from Rannie's widow, which he used to become Chippendale’s partner. One of Rannie's executors, Henry Ferguson, became a third partner and so the business became Chippendale, Haig and Co. Thomas Chippendale (Junior) took over the business in 1776 allowing his father to retire. He moved to what was then called Lob's Fields (now known as Derry Street) in Kensington. Chippendale married Elizabeth Davis at Fulham Parish Church on 5 August 1777. He fathered three more children. In 1779 Chippendale moved to Hoxton where he died of tuberculosis and was buried at St Martin-in-the-Fields on 16 November 1779.
There is a statue and memorial plaque dedicated to Chippendale outside the old Prince Henry's Grammar School in Manor Square, in his home town of Otley, near Leeds, Yorkshire. There is a full-size sculpted figure of Thomas Chippendale on the façade of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

After working as a journeyman cabinet maker in London, in 1754, he became the first cabinet-maker to publish a book of his designs, titled The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director. Three editions were published, the first in 1754, followed by a virtual reprint in 1755, and finally a revised and enlarged edition in 1762, by which time Chippendale's illustrated designs began to show signs of Neoclassicism.
Chippendale was much more than just a cabinet maker, he was an interior designer who advised on soft furnishings and even the colour a room should be painted. Chippendale often took on large-scale commissions from aristocratic clients. Twenty-six of these commissions have been identified. Here furniture by Chippendale can still be identified, The locations include:
Blair Castle, Perthshire, for the Duke of Atholl (1758);
Wilton House, for Henry, 10th Earl of Pembroke (c 1759-1773);
Nostell Priory, Yorkshire, for Sir Roland Winn, Bt (1766–85);
Mersham Le Hatch, Kent, for Sir Edward Knatchbull, Bt (1767–79);
David Garrick both in town and at his villa at Hampton, Middlesex;
Normanton Hall, Rutland and other houses for Sir Gilbert Heathcote Bt (1768–78) that included the management of a funeral for Lady Bridget Heathcote, 1772;
Harewood House, Yorkshire, for Edwin Lascelles (1767–78);
Newby Hall, Yorkshire, for William Weddell (c 1772-76);
Temple Newsam, Yorkshire, for Lord Irwin (1774);
Paxton House, Berwickshire, Scotland, for Ninian Home (1774–91);
Burton Constable Hall, Yorkshire for William Constable (1768–79);
Petworth House, Sussex and other houses for George Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont (1777–79).
Dumfries House, Ayrshire, Scotland, for the 5th Earl Of Dumfries. 
Chippendale collaborated in furnishing interiors designed by Robert Adam and at Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire, and Melbourne House, London, for Lord Melbourne, with Sir William Chambers (c. 1772-75).
Chippendale's Director was used by many other cabinet makers. Consequently recognisably "Chippendale" furniture was produced in Dublin, Philadelphia, Lisbon, Copenhagen and Hamburg. Catherine the Great and Louis XVI both possessed copies of the Director in its French edition.The Director shows four main styles: English with deep carving, elaborate French rococo in the style of Louis XV furniture, Chinese style with latticework and lacquer, and Gothic with pointed arches, quatrefoils and fret-worked legs. His favourite wood was mahogany; in seat furniture he always used solid wood rather than veneers.

the life and work of thomas chippendale, gilbert christopher

Obituary: Christopher Gilbert
BERNARD D. COTTON   TUESDAY 20 OCTOBER 1998 in The Independent /

WHEN CHRISTOPHER Gilbert joined Temple Newsam, Leeds, in the early 1960s as an Assistant Keeper, few would have guessed that he was about to embark on a scholarly career that would place him as the undisputed elder statesman of British furniture history, almost 40 years later.
Born in Lancaster in 1936, he was educated at the universities of Keele, where he read English and History, and Durham, where he was awarded an MA for a thesis on aspects of 16th-century theatre. He spent all of his working life at Temple Newsam, a large country house on the outskirts of Leeds owned by the city council, becoming its Keeper from 1967 to 1974. He remained based at Temple Newsam after he was appointed Director of Leeds City Art Galleries in 1982, a post he held until 1995 when ill-health forced his early retirement.

It was here that his lifelong passion for historic furniture was fostered in his principal work of researching the furniture collections. His two- volume catalogue of the furniture at both Temple Newsam and Lotherton Hall (a smaller Edwardian house also owned by Leeds City Council) acts as a model for the concise and relevant description of furniture. His love of the English language, and his ability to use it in precise and illuminating ways, is reflected in his often-quoted motto, to "write as if one is paying the publisher to print each word!"

For those interested in the classic 18th-century furniture traditions, however, it will be his towering two-volume The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale (1978) for which he will be remembered. It brims with the social history of Chippendale's time as well as providing details of provenanced furniture.

In this work he demonstrated, in a way hardly paralleled before, that contemporary writing on furniture history could move away from subjective, speculative accounts to those underpinned by the scholarly rigour and documentary evidence expected of an academic discipline. It is a great sadness that the last great project he had embarked upon, the life and work of Thomas Chippendale the Younger, will not now follow from his pen.

At the Chippendale Society, in his roles as Honorary Curator and later President, Gilbert was responsible for raising large sums of money, and orchestrating important acquisitions of provenanced Chippendale furniture and related documentation.

His recognition of the pre- eminence of achieving provenance for furniture led him to undertake, with his friend and co-editor, Geoffrey Beard, and a large team of volunteers, the Herculean task of collecting biographical information from a variety of sources, culminating in The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 (1986). This work offers the first comprehensive source of maker information, and provides an accessible research tool for those who collect or work with furniture.

With the help of his vast network of contacts amongst museums, auction houses, private owners, and particularly members of the antiques trade, Gilbert more recently followed the dictionary with an illustrated volume of provenanced metropolitan furniture, The Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840 (1996). In 1993, with Tessa Murdoch of the Victoria and Albert Museum, he organised an exhibition held at Temple Newsam and the V&A, on John Channon and brass-inlaid furniture 1730-1760.

Although always ambitious and pioneering in his own work, he was, too, generous towards others, and particularly young scholars, and typically responded with lightning speed to questions and observations. In this way, he stood at the crossroads of new information from many sources, a gift he was always prepared to acknowledge.

His interest in developing furniture history as an academic discipline was reflected in his immediate response to the formation of the Furniture History Society in 1964. He joined its council almost from the outset, became its journal editor from 1975 to 1983, and later its Chairman in 1990. He was also elected as a Fellow of the Museums Association and the Society of Antiquaries.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Gilbert stood almost alone amongst his contemporaries in being deeply aware that the concerns of furniture history were often narrowly directed towards the furniture made for the fashionable homes of the wealthy, and that, important though these traditions were, concentrating research and publishing in these areas served to deny a voice and recognition to the greater volume of British furniture made for working people's houses during the 18th and 19th centuries, and the oak furniture traditions of the 17th century and earlier.

Quietly he began to explore and redress the imbalance, by publishing authors in the FHS Journal who were working in this field, as well as his own work. Significantly, perhaps, his first major paper, "Regional Furniture Traditions in English Vernacular Furniture", was published in America, as a Winterthur Museum Conference report, in 1974. This paper, although hardly known in Britain, found an already well-versed audience in the US, and it remains a model of methodological excellence.

Coincidentally, he began to produce a series of exhibitions and exhibition catalogues which were intended to show different aspects of this as yet to be accepted area of furniture history. Beginning with an exhibition of oak furniture from Yorkshire churches (1971), followed by an exhibition of oak furniture from the Lancashire Lakeland region (1973), Gilbert explored in particular the methodology of comparing the motifs on fixed, architectural woodwork with those on moveable furniture, as a way of provenancing furniture to a region of origin. In this, and other work, which he published regularly over the ensuing years, Gilbert proved that furniture for the common purpose, vernacular furniture, was designed and made with local or regional design preferences.

Gilbert's work took yet other turns during the 1970s which evidenced his growing sense of this new field. His exhibition "Town and Country Furniture" (1972) took regional furniture out of the rural or "country furniture" category which commercial interests had cast for it, by showing that robust and well-defined furniture traditions existed in both rural and urban areas. The sub-text, as always, was to demonstrate that vernacular furniture can sometimes be provenanced to its maker, and at other times to its region of origin by its association with people, places, or other, provenanced items of furniture.

For the exhibition he gathered together an eclectic collection of furniture to demonstrate the range of items which could be recognised in these ways, including chairs, commodes, chests of drawers, linen presses, settees, and corner cupboards. Exactly a decade later, he organised "Common Furniture" (1982). This time, with the benefit of a further 10 years of collecting new information, the areas of attribution had grown and developed.

In the years between the two exhibitions, he showed how furniture was not the exclusive domain of the domestic, and that that made for institutions as diverse as asylums, prisons, army barracks, railway stations and workhouses all required specialisation which was certainly vernacular, and whose design was sometimes regional or context dependent.

His two exhibitions "Back Stairs Furniture from Country Houses" (1977) and "School Furniture" (1978) brought fresh evidence to the core belief that furniture studies led by social-historical perspectives provide a meaning and significance for furniture previously considered merely mundane. Essentially it is this view which Gilbert knew would sustain the development of vernacular furniture studies, and given the enormous potential for original research in this area, often following new and radical research methods of object analysis and fieldwork techniques, he believed that major advances in furniture history were to be gained.

His most recent, and largest, published work concerned with both regional and institutional furniture, English Vernacular Furniture 1750-1900 (1991), offers a summation of the many sub-groups of furniture and their social history which he had researched. As with many new and developing ideas, there is often an internal dynamic which generates interest in others, and so it was with Gilbert's work on regional furniture traditions, for, in 1985, the Regional Furniture Society was formed with the express purpose of stimulating interest in the regional furniture traditions, and to publish an annual journal of new research in the field.

Although some detractors at the time felt that this move might fragment the established order of publishing in furniture history, Gilbert believed that the scope of the field required a separate scholarly publication and the provision of special events for its members. Displaying his commitment, he served as the society's first journal editor from 1987 to 1992. A decade on, his belief in the field seems fully justified in the now considerable publishing record to its credit, with several dozen authors and researchers now regularly publishing.

Gilbert was always at the forefront of developments. It is perhaps a fitting epitaph that his most recent call to the colours was to become a trustee of the recently formed Regional Furniture Museum Trust at High Wycombe, which represents an initiative to form a museum and research centre for the study of British Regional Furniture.

Christopher Gilbert had a strong emotional attachment to the north of England, and gained great refreshment from staying at the (Spartan) family cottage in the Dales, where he could retreat to write, walk, and enjoy his twin interests of bird-watching and steam railways. His second wife, Mary, was, with her sense of humour and vivacious ways, a perfect foil for this earnest and scholarly man.

Christopher Gallard Gilbert, furniture historian and museum curator: born Lancaster 7 September 1936; Assistant Keeper, Temple Newsam House 1961-67, Keeper 1967-74; Principal Keeper, Leeds City Art Galleries 1974- 82, Director 1982-95; twice married (two daughters; three stepsons, one stepdaughter); died Leeds 29 September 1998.

Grinling Gibbons

The most famous English woodcarver of all time was born, oddly enough, not in England at all but in Rotterdam, in what is now Holland, in 1648. Grinling Gibbons did not set foot in the British Isles until sometime around 1670 or 1671.

In those days a craftsman needed to be recognized and promoted by patrons to make his work widely known.
Gibbons was fortunate in that he was blessed with extraordinary talent in woodworking, and that his talent was recognized and promoted by a succession of patrons until he eventually came to the notice of Charles II.
Charles gave Gibbons commissions, as did William III and George I. Gibbons was also a favourite of the premier architect of the age, Christopher Wren. Wren called upon Gibbon to supply decorative carving for many of his country house commissions.

The genius of Gibbons is not simply that he had a remarkable ability to mold and shape wood, but that he evolved a distinct style that was all his own. Working mostly in limewood, Gibbons' trademark was the cascade of fruit, leaves, flowers, foliage, fish, and birds. Such cascades could be applied to paneling, furniture, walls, or even chimneys.
Perhaps to prove that he was not limited in his ability to the cascades, Gibbons produced a cravat made of limewood in a perfect imitation of Venetian needlepoint. The "cravat" was so lifelike that a foreign visitor was fooled into thinking it the standard dress of the English country gentleman!
Horace Walpole, who is known to have later worn the cravat on at least one occasion, remarked in 1763, "There is no instance of man before Gibbons who gave to wood the loose and airy lightness of flowers". The cravat is now on display in the Chapel at Chatsworth.
Much of Gibbons work survives in isolated country houses, but Hampton Court Palace near London is blessed with an abundance of fine carvings by the Dutch-born master.
William III commissioned Gibbons to redecorate his State Apartments, and was so impressed by the result that in 1693 he gave Gibbons permission to use the title "Master Carver".
Such carvings as the ones at Hampton Court are filled with symbolism which would have been apparent to an educated observer of the day, but which would escape most modern observers. Very often each object in the carving would have a particular meaning or reference to a classical Greek or Roman ideal or story.
Some of Gibbons best work outside Hampton Court survives at Petworth House in Sussex, in particular a ceiling he designed for the Duke of Devonshire, and at Lyme Park and Dunham Massey in Cheshire, Belton House in Lincolnshire and Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire. Other fine examples of his work can be seen at Windsor, and St Paul's in London. Also in London, the font at All Hallows by the Tower church has a wooden cover carved by Gibbons in 1682.
Grinling Gibbons work had an enormous influence of interior design and decor during the Golden Age of the English country house. Later craftsmen such as Thomas Chippendale are known to have been heavily influenced by his work. Grinling Gibbons died in 1720.

David Esterly

‘The Lost Carving’ by David Esterly
By Buzzy Jackson
  JANUARY 03, 2013 in The Boston Globe /

David Esterly’s memoir, “The Lost Carving,’’ is ostensibly about woodcarving, but there is more to it than that. There are precedents, of course: Robert M. Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’’ (1974) called itself “An Inquiry Into Values,” and the more recent “Shop Class as Soulcraft’’ (2009) by Matthew B. Crawford was subtitled “An Inquiry Into the Value of Work.” Esterly’s book is, besides its main topic, a “Journey to the Heart of Making.” Inquiry or journey: What’s the difference? For the most part, pretensions: Esterly doesn’t have any.
He’s not trying to convince the reader of anything (though the reader may end up convinced); he’s simply trying to understand his own path from English lit graduate student to master practitioner of high-relief, naturalistic woodcarving, an art form thought to have reached its peak in the early 18th century in the work of the Dutch-born carver Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721).
Esterly begins his story with two epiphanies. As an American student at Cambridge in the 1970s he happened to walk into St. James’s Church in London and spotted Gibbons’s carvings above the altar. “[A] shadowy tangle of vegetation, carved to airy thinness. Organic forms, in an organic medium. My steps slowed, and stopped. I stared. The sickness came over me. . . . The traffic noise on Piccadilly went silent, and I was at the still center of the universe.”
Instantly obsessed with Gibbons, Esterly resolved to research his work and write about it. But that wasn’t enough. “More than the mind needed to be deployed,” he thought, so he bought himself the raw materials used by Gibbons himself: chisels, gouges, and limewood — the preferred medium of high-relief woodcarvers. “I found that as the blade moved through the wood my whole body moved, too, with it and against it at the same time. A wave of pleasure passed through me.” Esterly was in love. He turned his back on the academic life and taught himself to carve.
Years later in 1986, now a master carver, Esterly was called back to England, to Henry VIII’s palace at Hampton Court, where a fire had recently destroyed many of the original Gibbons carvings that decorated the royal apartments. Esterly was hired to the team of artisans who would repair the lost pieces. He recognized the significance of the project; it would be the culmination of his life work (what Crawford would call soulcraft) and a reunion with his great teacher and master, Grinling Gibbons. It was also a reckoning: Would he really be capable of repairing this masterpiece?
Some of the challenges he faced were technical — before the invention of sandpaper, how did carvers smooth finished pieces? — but even more were bureaucratic, as Esterly navigated the cliques and politics of the British heritage industry. Along the way he reveals some of the lessons he learned through the practice of his craft. The wisdom that comes from making mistakes, for example, and the way in which “[d]isaster allows nature to take control, to create its own order. Disaster can be a fine designer.” He learns humility in the presence of a block of wood. “The wood began as a submissive, put-upon thing, then gradually came to life,” he writes: “A carver begins as a god and ends as slave.”
“The Lost Carving’’ is a book about the rewards of hard work and learning to appreciate one’s limits. It’s also an exploration of the ways in which great art can enrich our lives in the most tangible ways. This is a serious, beautiful book about craftsmanship written not by a frustrated philosopher but, as Esterly proudly describes himself, by “a dirty monk with a vision.”

THE LOST CARVING: A Journey to the Heart of Making
David Esterly