One of my aspirations is to live in a Georgian house. Perhaps my love of the 18th century stems from an early experience. Aged 11, I went with my mother to visit one of her work colleagues in her tiny flat in a Georgian terrace in King’s Cross. It was probably not authentically “Georgian”. The walls and ceiling were white and the floorboards painted. On a small, elegant sofa were placed one or two colourful cushions. It was extremely minimalist. Nevertheless, I fell in love. It was the proportions – of the rooms and particularly of the windows – that sealed the deal.
Clearly, I am not the only one who feels this way. For an exhibition at RIBA in London, Pablo Bronstein, a British-Argentinian artist, has explored our love of Georgian architectural style, its lines and flourishes executed with varying degrees of success. Fifty of Bronstein’s drawings of faux Georgian or Georgian-influenced buildings, fetchingly and rather wittily presented in faux Georgian frames are juxtaposed with rarely-seen Georgian plans and drawings (yes, actual ones) of buildings, cuttings from the Architects Journal and pages from 18th-century architects reference works.
What I loved about this understated display was that the information boards are sober and informative, if a little high-faluting at times, entirely consistent with its serious architectural setting. Bronstein’s occasional captions (he has not annotated all the works), however, are something else. I wish I had photographed them (a security person was looking at me rather sternly so I didn’t dare). You cannot say they are not serious or sincere but often they are wonderfully droll, ironic and dry. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at some of them.
It took me about 40 minutes to get round the rooms (there are 5 or 6). The refined cool atmosphere of the building is ideal for respite from the frenzy of West End shopping.
Pablo Bronstein: Conservatism, or The Long Reign of Pseudo Georgian Architecture
RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects)
66 Portland Place
London W1A 1AD
Monday – Sunday 10am to 5pm and every Tuesday 10am to 8pm
Closes 11 February 2018