Derham Groves


Earlier this year I received a travel grant from the Iran Heritage Foundation to visit Iran to look at patterned and sculptured brickwork.  I went on the 22nd of November and came back on the 13th of December.  I visited Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, Kashan, and Tabriz.  I’m happy to report that Iran is no evil empire.  The people are friendly and kind and the only time that I was in danger was crossing the road (regardless of whether the light is green or red, everybody just goes!).  The brickwork was fabulous too—not just the old stuff, but the new stuff as well.

Pomegranates, not onions.

No similarities between the scary mannequins and me whatsoever.

This coffee table was presented to the Shah of Iran’s wife, Farah Diba, by Australia’s Governor General, Sir John Kerr.  I couldn’t see any grog stains on it though.

The culture of martyrdom.

Iran Heritage Foundation Grant Report: Patterned and Sculptural Brickwork in Iran
Derham Groves

I visited Iran between the 23rd of November and the 11th of December 2010.  My primary purpose was to look at patterned (i.e. 2-D or flat) and sculptural (i.e. 3-D or raised and recessed) brickwork.  I visited Tehran twice, Isfahan, Shiraz, Yadz, Kashan, and Tabriz.  Most commercial, domestic and public buildings in Iran are made of fired bricks.  These buildings are either solid brick or brick veneer (it is sometimes difficult to tell which).  I also saw lots of very old mud brick buildings, especially in Kashan.  I gave a lecture on Australian polychrome brickwork (i.e. the use of different coloured bricks to delineate figures or patterns) at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran and also at the Tabriz Islamic Art University in Tabriz.

Throughout Iran fired bricks are generally very good quality.  In Yadz I visited two neighbouring brick factories.  One produced extruded bricks that were fired in a huge Hoffman kiln, which was nearly a kilometre long.  The other factory produced pressed bricks that were fired in a less sophisticated downdraught kiln.  The sizes of bricks seem to vary throughout Iran.  A common or standard brick is approximately 210mm long x 95mm wide x 55mm high (this particular brick was measured in Isfahan).  Half-height bricks (210mm x 105mm x 40mm, also measured in Isfahan), known as “Roman” bricks in Australia, and a wide range of unusually shaped and sized bricks, which occasionally are glazed in blue or incorporate small squares of blue tile or mirror, are very popular throughout Iran.  And some very old buildings have square fired bricks, such as the Arg-e Karim Khan, an old citadel in Shiraz (230mm x 230mm x 50mm), and the Arg-e Tabriz, an ancient (ruined) fortified mosque in Tabriz (175mm x 175mm x 50mm).

As most of my work to date has focused on polychrome brickwork, (illogically) I expected to see more of this in Iran.  But Iranian brickwork is almost exclusively monochrome—the vast majority of bricks being yellowish-buff in colour.  The small amount of polychrome brickwork I saw was rather docile compared to that seen in Australia.  However, in many respects monochrome brickwork is more challenging to design than polychrome brickwork because all that the designer has to play with are the patterns of the bricks and mortar, known as “bonds”, and the effects of light and shadow.

Bricklaying is generally of a very high standard in Iran.  Bricklaying techniques that require a high degree of skill, such as arches, corbels, perforated brickwork, and vaults, are routine throughout the country.  I also observed many different types of brick bonds, including basket weave, header, herringbone, Flemish, and stack.  Interestingly, to emphasize the horizontality of brickwork, the vertical mortar joints or “perpends” are very frequently eliminated and the bricks simply butt jointed, and occasionally slithers of blue tiles are pushed into the bed joints as well.

In Iran it appears that traditional bricklaying skills are effectively passed down from one generation of bricklayers to another.  However, there is a recent trend to use materials such as concrete and steel especially for commercial and public buildings, which is driven by the speed of development, the need to ‘earthquake-proof’ buildings and current architectural fashion.  This may eventually lead to an erosion of bricklaying skills, as has happened in Australia over the years.

I anticipated seeing a lot of decorative brickwork on old and historic buildings and I was not disappointed.  The Arg-e Karim Khan in Shiraz, for example, has large continuous diamond or diaper 3-D patterns around each buttress at the four corners of the citadel, which ‘jump out’ due to them catching the light and casting shadows.  Some mud brick buildings also have this sort of decoration, such as the minaret at the Jameh mosque in Kashan.  Also the variety and intricacy of the 2-D patterns on the inside of the brick domes of the bazaars and mosques is truly amazing—circles, diamonds, hexagons, squares, stars, triangles, etc.  At Shahid Beheshti University I met Dr. Tehrani, an expert on the construction of brick domes in Iran, who gave me a CD of his research on the brick domes of the Masjed-e Jameh mosque in Isfahan.

I was surprised by how much decorative brickwork I saw on modern buildings.  For example, two impressive early 20th century brick buildings I saw were the redbrick building next to the former Senate (and now the Assembly of Experts) in Tehran, and the National Museum of Iran also in Tehran.  The former building is approximately 85 years old and has very elaborate brick friezes, columns and curlicues, which are perhaps best described as “Baroque”.  The French architect and archaeologist André Godard designed the redbrick National Museum of Iran in 1937 (but it looks decades more modern than that).  It has ‘spiky’ round columns made of specially shaped bricks and a huge parabolic vault or “iwan” at the entrance.

Many contemporary buildings have friezes and panels of 2-D patterned and 3-D sculptural brickwork on the balconies (not only the sides, but also underneath), fences, parapets, and spandrels.  In the case of houses, it appears that the more elaborate these decorations are, the more prosperous the homeowners are.  This was particularly evident in Shiraz where some of the most elaborate panels and friezes on houses I saw were in the obviously well to do district near Shiraz University.

My trip to Iran has sparked several ideas.  Over the next year I shall survey and reassess Australian monochrome brickwork, which was very popular in the 1950s and 1960s, but fell out of fashion soon afterwards.  The students in my architectural theory seminar at the University of Melbourne, where I teach, will design some monochrome brick walls based on the Iranian examples I saw and the Australian examples I shall find, and then apprentice bricklayers from a local trade school will build a selection of the architecture students’ walls.  I shall also design a specially shaped brick based on those I saw in Iran, and hopefully a local brick company will make a test batch of these.

Generally speaking, the Iran I experienced was totally different from the Iran you see on the six o’clock news.  The most dangerous thing I did in Iran was cross the road (regardless of whether the light is green or red, people just go!).  And the most frightening things I saw in Iran were the mannequins in the menswear stores (they were truly scary!).  Everyone was extremely helpful and very kind to me, especially Ms. Yalda Sourani, Ms. Sepideh Masoodinejad and Dr. Morteza Mirgholami.  I also wish to thank Mr. Richard West, Mr. Craig Hinrichs, Austral Bricks, and the Iran Heritage Foundation for their assistance.

Peter E. Sayers’ Travel Diary

In 1959 Peter E. Sayers, a serious young man from St. Kilda East, and nine other ‘young Australian ambassadors’ embarked on an amazing 3-month ‘grand tour’ of the USA.  They saw the best and the worst of Cold War America, which Sayers faithfully recorded in his travel diary (which runs to approximately 25,000 words).  Each student in my Popular Art, Architecture and Design course was assigned a different entry from Sayers’ diary in order to create a postcard based on that day’s events.  Here are a few examples (both postcards and their accompanying diary entries):

Kim Peeters

Weather: Fine.  This morning we went by bus to the General Electric plant about eight miles from the hotel. Statistics are 23,000 employees, approximately 100 acres of factory space and 1,000 acres of grounds. The car park had approximately 9,000 cars in it.  We saw the washing machines being made.  A point about production: When a machine is liable to cut a factory worker’s fingers off, they make him push two buttons, one for each hand, which are located above his head.  Later we saw some modern home settings featuring G.E. appliances.  When washing dishes in a dishwasher do not take the fat off the dishes as it combines with the detergent to do the job of washing the dishes.   We came back to the hotel for lunch then we went out to Brown Forman Distillers to see how they make Bourbon whiskey.  Taxes make up 65 percent of the cost of whiskey, which amounts to $500,000 in taxes per day.  An interesting point to note is that the law forbids the process for making Scotch whiskey in the U.S.A.

Alexandra Wall

The Australian flag flew at the hotel today. Had breakfast in the hotel’s drugstore.  First thing after breakfast we were shown over the hotel, including $150 per night penthouse. In the morning we went to the University of Houston, after having our photo taken in front of the hotel’s diving board.  The Chancellor [President] of the University [General A.D. Bruce] welcomed us and then we met the sports boss and talked on his subject (Allen Lawrence from the university had just become the two-mile world record holder the day before.)  We had lunch in the cafeteria and met one of the Australian summer scholarship boys.  Then we saw the University’s film unit, TV studio and radio station. (Some of the paths around the University were made of seashells.)  We left after 3.00 P.M. after thanking our host, the Head of Languages. We returned to the hotel by bus (same way as we went).  We then went out to the Rue Ranch (2,000 acres).  It is owned by A.E. ‘Snake’ Bailey who breeds French cattle (whitish colour, noted for quick growth).  When we were being driven round by ‘Snake’ in his $10,000 325 horsepower Lincoln Continental Mark III (a Caddy only costs $7,000) he shot off the road after a jackrabbit (hare).  We slithered and slid over damp pastures for about a quarter of a mile chasing it.  We went out to the ranch in two cars.  The first was driven by Mr. Paris (the manager of the Shamrock Hotel).  He had a unique pair of cufflinks: one was the workings of a watch and the other was the face of a watch.  The hotel’s public relations man drove the second car, a Ford Country Sedan.  We had to teach him how it worked because he did not usually drive this car.  (Doors that open by button in car.)  I went out with him.  ‘Snake’ has a project underway whereby people lease an acre lot of his ranch and become a member of his club, which has a livery stable, etc.  One bloke at the stable had a gold $50 (Mexican) piece as a figure on his tie (cowboy type).  We all had a ride on the horses.  [Richard] Blaiklock fell and so did a girl (the horse fell and hit its head and lay on her leg.  I think both came out OK, although when we had tea in the club (steak, etc.) she was chaired out.  When we came home at 10.00 P.M. we ran over a skunk.  I met at club Mr. C.A. Carter [President of Tex-Tube Inc.].

Claire Welsh

Weather: fine.  We got up at 7.10 AM and at 7.50 AM had breakfast with the manager and another fellow who used to live in Melbourne and Sydney.  At 9.00 AM the Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company were our hosts.  They took us in two station wagons firstly to their training centre where we saw people learning to use lathes and do maths, etc.  Secondly, we went to their private airport where we had a ride in a helicopter that seated three and the pilot.  We flew over the town of Hartford, the capital of Connecticut.  Then we went by station wagon to the main plant to have a look, it was filled with precision tools and had great security regulations.  Then we had lunch in the ‘Junior Executive Dining Room’. I had a V-8 cocktail, roast loin of pork and a butterscotch sundae.  After lunch we went to the experimental station where the boilers and pipes and control panels were gigantic.  At 3.00 PM we were at the airport again and at 3.30 PM we left by Convair (one of the company’s private planes) for Boston, 120 miles away, it only took half an hour.  Only us and one other chap was on the plane.  We took a taxi to the Statler Hilton hotel, not as good as the Statler Hilton hotel in Hartford.  I received a letter from Midge, one from the U.K. and a duplicate of Mum’s New York letter.  Tonight I had tea in a cafeteria and washed, wrote diary and letters.

Neo Fu

We left the hotel for City Hall (a great building) where we met the Mayor of Los Angeles [Norris Poulson] and I presented him with some brochures about Sydney.  This was shown on C.B.S. [Commercial Broadcasting System] at night.  We saw the council in session and then the view from the top of the building. In the morning reps of McDonnell Douglas picked us up and took us about 15 miles to their aircraft plant where we saw two types of jets under construction.  After lunch we watched two films: one on the naval jets we saw being built, which were for a big aircraft carrier, and the other on the DC-8.  McDonnell Douglas then drove us to N.B.C. [National Broadcasting Company] studios in Burbank (it took about an hour along freeways).  At N.B.C. we saw The George Gobel Show, the best TV show I’ve seen.  George is a great comedian; not corny.  Nat King Cole was the guest artist.  The nationwide program ran for an hour.  Then half of us came home by two buses via Hollywood (for about the eighth time).  We had tea and packed and wrote in our diaries.  P.S. On our travels we have seen trains with up to 120 carriages.

Lavanya Arulanandam

Fine. Today was another full day in the bus (8.30 A.M. to 7.00 P.M.).  When we left Charleston (Capital of West Virginia) we followed a valley which contained chemical factories and the such for some time.  Most of the rest of the way we went through hillbilly country, timber is the main industry in the area.  Then towards Richmond (Virginia) the country became hill and dale.  The bigger hills today were real ones, bigger than yesterday.  We booked in at the Richmond Hotel and had tea.   Jim and I are in a two-bed room.  I write this at 8.40 P.M.  I will now start letters.  [Break in time.]  I thought I would, but I did not.  As per usual at these big hotels there was a convention and this was no exception, except it was the High Schools of Virginia ‘Beta Club’ (80 per cent grade and over in form work).  Well, to cut a long story short, we went to their dance at the John Marshall Hotel.  After I danced with two or three other girls I met Freda Ashworth (near 17) from Rocky Mount. Before the dance John Hammond talked over the phone to a woman who used to live in Perth.  They danced a little jive, a Paul Jones and two or three modern waltzes.  Freda was a good dancer.  We were at the dance from 10 to 11 (the Beta Club members had had dinner beforehand).  When they announced that the Australians were present we got a very warm clap.  After the dance I went with Freda up to the 11th floor to the Rocky Mount High School rooms for a party.  We sat around on beds, etc. and ate brownies and drank soft drink.  I told them about Australia.  Before I left at 12.30 A.M. Freda gave me her little red and white cap and I gave her a Qantas flying Kangaroo pin.    I got lost on the way home and after about 10 minutes I got a lift to the Richmond Hotel with a chap who was picking up his girl there. (He was only my age and had a new tank.)  By the way, at the Richmond Hotel there were a lot of the Beta Club members.  Anyway, to cut a long story short, I found myself sitting in amongst a group of students in our passage about 17 to 18, about 15 girls and 3 boys telling them all about Australia.  Then later the other boys that went to the dance (6 of us) came out of the lift to go to their room (they had been put out of the other hotel at 2.00 A.M. by the cops) I called them up and we all had a talk.  The hotel detective had came round earlier, we softened him up but at 3.00 A.M. the manager in a rage sent us to bed. Some of the other kids went to the students’ rooms first off but unluckily I had gone to mine and was trapped with the manager outside my door so I went to bed.  Some of the others got to bed at 6.30 A.M.  P.S. The bandleader in making his speech at the dance thought it was very good that no one had made a number request (eg. Sweet Georgia Brown).  He did not appear to like brash music and was glad to see the young people were not that fond of it request it.  P.P.S. The road for the great part of today was only one lane each way.

Ryan Hajeb

At about 9.15 A.M. the whole group set off in a limousine for the Town Hall where we met the Mayor [Sarto Fournier] who gave two of the boys a pair of cufflinks to give to Mr. Menzies and the Mayor of Sydney.  The woodwork in his office was carved out of teak.  Over here in Canada it appears that woodwork inside is a feature.  After that we went in our limousines to the St. Lawrence Seaway and a look around town then we went to the Mount Stephen Club (where Princess Margaret had a meal) a very reserved club with beautiful wood panelling and stained glass windows where we had lunch with a firm of advertisers connected with Johnson & Johnson after which we went to the International Civil Aviation Organization (U.N.) and sat in the meeting chamber where we met the president and told all about the organization and Australia’s part in it.  Our chauffer today was a walking directory of the history of Montreal.  Sixty-five percent of the population of Montreal are French, but in the heart of Quebec the figure is nearer 80%.  At the seaway they had to raise or convert some bridges that crossed the St. Lawrence.  Crosses are about every [?].  At night I went to the home of Mrs. Elizabeth Somerville (Haig) Hall (Ma’s cousin) at 4358 Coalbrook Avenue, Montreal where I met her, her daughters Violet and Alison Hall who live with the mother.  Also the youngest of Mrs. Elizabeth Hall’s family Kenneth Hall and his wife Margaret and their children David 13 and Margaret 8.  Kenneth Hall lives at 5253 Trans Island Avenue N.D.G Montreal, Quebec, HUI-4278.  I had tea and talked till 12.00 midnight.  I came and went by taxi.  People in this of Montreal are mostly English speaking.  The Halls are Presbyterian.  Kenneth would be about 45 I should think. Mrs. E. Hall is just 88 years old. Kenneth is a strict father, more English than me.

Maria Haenichen

Weather: Cloudy.  At about 8.30 AM we went by taxi to the wharves to be shown over the fastest ship afloat, The United States.  (It only has the butcher’s block and the pianos made of wood.)  It is streamlined and mostly made of steel.  It was very nice, but I prefer the Queen Mary. We then had out picture taken outside two good picture theatres in New York.  Then we went via the Waldorf (and recorded an interview with the Voice of America for Australian radio) to Colgate Palmolive (just over the road) for a very nice private luncheon (very high standard).  I had my picture taken with the boss.  An Australian representative of Colgate Palmolive was present.  We were told that some products would be sent to our homes when we got back to Australia.  At 3.00 PM we went to the QANTAS-BOAC booking offices and saw the very large booking offices.  The advertising of Australia in the QANTAS section was mostly photograph enlargements (very good).  At night I went to Some Like it Hot starring Marilyn Monroe (free) with Jim.  Had tea at 9.30 PM then came home and washed and wrote.

Rebecca De Haas

Down for breakfast with Mr. and Mrs. King and two sons at 7.30 A.M. in the Hilton hotel where we were staying.  The Chamber of Commerce then supplied a bus for us to see the old town, army and navy installations, university, hospital and medical centre, etc.  Most architecture was on the Old Spanish line (with flat roof).  Saw Australian girls today for a few minutes at bus depot before they left, which was just before we left at 11.30 A.M. The country on the south side of town is much more fertile looking than the way in with trees and ordinary hilly country then we went into semi-flat treeless country for most of the way to Roswell (we had lunch at a small town on the way).  We spoke to two typical teenagers 16 and about 14 on going steady, etc.  At Roswell two girls in a car tried to pick up some of the boys.  Left Roswell at 5.10 P.M. after being in the town for one hour and twenty minutes.  We now passed through quite humble farm homes in the valley we passed along then dark came.  When we got to El Paso we were amazed at its size as I expected a small town. We booked in at Hilton hotel and three of us had tea at a restaurant (café type) at approximately 10.30 P.M.

Katie Miller

We left El Paso about 8.00 A.M. (I felt bilious all day.)  We had lunch at Pecos at 1.40 P.M., just outside the town, but I did not eat. We got to San Antonio at 10.15 P.M. and went straight to bed at the Hilton hotel.  The country we passed through was most interesting in as much as it was varied.  We had at the start semi-desert with sand laying about some hilly country, somewhat like New Mexico hill formation type.  Great fairly well grassed cattle country with slight dips and rises.  And towards the end of the long day’s trip we went through (in the dark) country that was hilly and well watered (I think).  San Antonio is a city of about half-a-million people.  It has many tall buildings.  It has a river flowing through it (like Venice). Three people were in my room, which was overlooking a waterfall that could have kept you awake if you were not tired.  P.S. In most parts we have been to, static electricity has given us a few jumps.

At 9.00 A.M. we rose to the sound of bells all over town playing something from the Desert Song.  We had breakfast downstairs (I was much better this morning).  I posted the two El Paso papers and returned to hotel (with Jim).  On this walk I observed better-dressed friendlier people, better dress shops (in other words, I approved of the town).  After lunch at the Menger Hotel (100 years old 3 days ago), which was near the Alamo (we had a good look at that).  I missed out on seeing the Old Spanish village just behind.  The weather has been as good as gold.  We set out again by bus at about 3.15 P.M. for Corpus Christie on the Gulf of Mexico.  The country was generally lightly wavy with scrub or none but all was quite green as the country was apparently in a wet spell.  Other was just at dust we saw a house (?) on fire.  We had tea at another ordinary restaurant you expect over here. Got to White Plaza Hotel about 8.00 P.M.  Jim and I in a room.

Sandra Mrowetz

Weather: Fine.  Rose about 8.45 A.M. and after breakfast in drugstore Scott and I went to the White House.  We went in the long file that the ordinary public go in, filing through the Red room, the Blue room, the Ballroom and others (the number of visitors passing through the White House must be great, thousands a day, four days a week).  After that Jn and I went to the Museum for a short time and had a look at the weapons of natives from the Pacific Islands and Australia.  After lunch at the cafeteria next to the hotel, I took a rest, I didn’t like doing it, but I needed it.  After tea in the coffee house in the hotel all of the boys except the two Jns went in two taxis to the home of one of the girls that we met at the Richmond hotel (Beta Club) and had a party with some of the girls. The party comprised of 8 boys (us), about 10 girls, Cokes, Pepsis, potato chips, records, dancing, and charades in a basement very tastefully finished in an air force man’s nice home. The hosts took us home at 12.30 A.M. and I got to bed about 1.15 A.M.

Amanda Tan

Church at St. Bartholomew’s just across the road from the hotel at 10.45 AM.  It is an unusual dome type church, big inside, but it was full today.  The ushers wore morning suits.  The service was very similar to St. Mary’s except the Psalms and the responses were spoken.  After lunch outside the hotel with Jim, he and I went to the International Car Show at the Coliseum.  We left the hotel at approximately 4.40 PM for the bus which ultimately got us to the Statler Hilton Hartford, a very modern hotel, at 9.30 PM where our photos were takes as per usual.  I am with Scott in a room on the 18th floor.  This hotel is what experts come from all over the world to see, it’s the most efficient hotel with no comfort sacrificed, only 2 years old.

Views of Portugal—Posted on the run

Evora: Town wall; Igreja de Santo Antao on the town square; Cathedral of Evora; Igreja de Na Senhora da Graca; the Moorish church on Avenue Dr. Barahona; storks nesting on the steeple of the church on Rua D. Augusto Eduardo Nunes; the Roman viaduct (and houses) on Rua do Cano (2 images); house with chimney on Rua do Raimundo; the Roman temple; Neolithic standing stones; a dish of snails; faux Disney ride at the Feira de Sao Joao (2 images). Sintra:




Views of Tokyo

Sensoji Temple (2 images—the temple being renovated and a giant sandal hanging on a temple gate); Hama-rikyu Garden (2 images—struts supporting a tree branch and two 18th century duck hunting hides); Odaiba Seaside Park (2 images—the Fuji TV building designed by Kenzo Tange and a small version of the Statue of Liberty); ‘crazy’ Japanese billboards (2 images); the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building designed by Kenzo Tange; a building with a wavy facade; the Cocoon Tower designed by Tange Associates (3 images); a building with a cracked facade; the Asahari Super Dry Hall designed by Philippe Starck; the De Beers building designed by Jun Mitsui; a building with a folly on the roof; the Mikimoto building designed by Toyo Ito; the Imperial Palace’s East Garden (2 images—amateur photographers snapping irises and a stone rampart); Ping considering the menu; me lost in translation; Tokyo Disneyland (10 images—the suitcase-shaped shops outside the park, the main entrance, World Bazaar, Fantasyland (3 images—Sleeping Beauty’s castle and It’s a Small World from the outside and the inside), Westernland (3 images—Mark Twain Riverboat, Fort Sam Clemens and the Indian camp), and Mickey and Minnie icy-poles).

Views of Los Angeles and St. Louis—Posted on the Run

This year the Popular Culture Association conference was held in St. Louis, but I had a few days in Los Angeles beforehand. Anaheim: Disneyland (7 images— Disneyland’s entrance and railway station; the Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse statue; Sleeping Beauty’s castle; Storybook Land and the Casey Jones train; It’s a Small World After All building; 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride; the Thunder Mountain ghost train). Los Angeles: Walt Disney Concert Hall designed by Frank O. Gehry (5 images—the last being the ‘plaque’ on Gehry’s Delft rose sculpture dedicated to Lillian Disney); the Museum of Contemporary Art designed by Arata Isozaki; Watts Towers designed and constructed by Simon Rodia (6 images); the house directly opposite Watts Towers; the Anna May Wong caryatid, part of the Hollywood Walk of Fame statue designed by Catherine Hardwicke (2 images); Basil Rathbone’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (1926) designed by Meyer & Holler (3 images); Capitol Records building (1956) designed by Welton Becket; Clifton’s Cafeteria (2 images); Piece Brothers cemetery (8 images—the graves of Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Rodney Dangerfield (with the ‘ghost’ of Derham Groves in the background), Bob Crane and Sigrid Valdis (Colonel Hogan and Hilda from Hogan’s Heroes), Don Knotts (Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show), Billy Wilder, and Jack Lemmon). St. Louis: Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts designed by Tadao Ando (2 images); Sun Theatre (1913) designed by Widman and Walsh; the Pruit-Igoe site—which has remained vacant since the disastrous housing project designed in 1950 by Minoru Yamasaki was progressively demolished between 1972-1974 (2 images); Compton Hill water tower (1898) designed by Harry Ellis (2 images); Bissell water tower (1886) designed by William S. Eames (the uncle of Charles Eames); Grand water tower (1871) designed by George I. Barnett; Yit Mei and Javier; model for the ceiling of the lobby at the Magic Chef appliance factory (1947) designed by Isamu Noguchi, in the St. Louis Museum of Art; Gateway to the West (1963-1968) designed by Eero Saarinen (2 images); sample Gateway to the West elevator car; and Union Station (1894) designed by Theodore Link.




Forthcoming Talk at the Art Deco and Modernism Society

Hollywood comes to Melbourne
Melbourne Academic Derham Groves will present the story of the Hollywood star, Anna May Wong, who starred in numerous movies (usually as an Oriental Temptress) and who visited Melbourne to perform at the Tivoli in 1939. Anna was an Art Deco diva if ever there was one!

Date: Thursday 11 Feb 2010
Time: 7:30pm for 7:45pm start
Venue: Racecourse Hotel, cnr Dandenong Rd and Waverley Rd, Malvern East (Melways 68 F1)
Cost: $15 (coffee/tea, biscuits and mini-muffins provided)

Views of Western Australia

Young Australia League’s headquarters, Perth; fishing boats, Freemantle; the lighthouse at Bunbury; dolphin spotting at Bunbury (3 images); Ngilgi Cave, Yallingup; at the beach, Dunsborough; James Bond 007, near Augusta; Southern and Indian Oceans, Augusta; the lighthouse at Augusta; Wave Rock, Hyden (2 images); the dog cemetery at Corrigin (2 images); the town hall at York; reading on the beach, Rottnest Island.

Views of Rochester NY, Minneapolis, London, Tbilisi, and London Again—Posted on the Run

London: St. George’s (Nicholas Hawksmoor); St. Mary Woolnoth (Nicholas Hawksmoor); British Museum (renovation by Norman Foster); a post modern bank building (perhaps by Leon Krier?); Gherkin (Norman Foster); Lloyds building (Richard Rogers); Christ Church (Nicholas Hawsmoor); Gilbert and George’s house, Fournier Street, Spitalfields; Gilbert and George shopping at Spitalfields Market; Sherlock Holmes statue in Baker Street; Portsmouth Harbour (2 images); Richard Lancelyn Green’s Sherlock Holmes collection at City Museum, Portsmouth (2 images); Reconstruction of a typical 1950s English living room at City Museum, Portsmouth; St. Pancras Station (William Barlow); National Gallery (addition by Robert Venturi); St. Martins in the Fields (James Gibbs); John Soane Museum (renovation by John Soane); Big Ben (Charles Barry); London Eye (Mark Barfield); Sherlock Holmes pub; British Library at St. Pancras (Colin St. John); Millenium Bridge (Norman Foster); St. Paul’s (Christopher Wren). Tibilisi: House; Brickwork; Shoe repairer’s sign; Graffiti; Cafe; Balcony; Coke advertisement; Mtskheta, the old capital of Georgia; Old churches near Mtskheta (2 images). London again (Kew Gardens): Chinese Pagoda (William Chambers); Temperate House and Palm House (both by Decimus Burton, 3 images). Minneapolis: My buddy, sculptor Andrew Leicester. Rochester NY: Clock of Nations (Dale Clark); Highland Park Diner (2 images); my mentor Karal Ann Marling’s house.





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Anna May Wong in Australia

Anna May Wong_27 Aug 09 012

Elaine Mae Woo, the director of Frosted Yellow Willows (2007), a documentary about the career of Anna May Wong, visited Melbourne last week for the Anna May Wong retrospective at ACMI. Pictured are moderator Philipa Hawker (above, left), Elaine and myself on stage following the screening of Frosted Yellow Willows on Thursday night at ACMI. Elaine and I spoke about Anna May Wong at the Chinese Museum on Saturday afternoon (below), and then I introduced Shanghai Express (1932), one of Wong’s best and most memorable films, at ACMI on Saturday night.


New Orleans

Just back from the Popular Culture Association’s conference in New Orleans. There were two architectural highlights for me. Located on the edge of the city’s warehouse precinct is the Piazza D’Italia (1978), an icon of postmodern architecture. Designed by U.S. architect Charles Moore (water spouts out of his mouth and into the map-of-Italy-shaped fountain), it is a real gem. I also visited New Orlean’s 9th district, which was devastated by hurricane Katrina. If it wasn’t for the admirable efforts of Brad Pitt, whose foundation ‘Make It Right’ is constructing several new houses in the area, I don’t think very much rebuilding would be going on. There are still lots of wrecked and abandoned houses there, which is a bit depressing.

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Reconstructing New Orlean’s 9th District