15 May–1 September 2013
Open daily 10.00-18.00, open until 21.00 on Thursday 22 August
Terrace Rooms, South Wing
This exhibition focuses on a series of important London churches designed by the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor (c.1661–1736) during the early part of the eighteenth century. Although Hawksmoor is recognised as one of the major contributors to the traditions of British and European architectural culture, there is insufficient visual documentation and analysis of his work. This exhibition curated by Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and featuring the work of architectural photographer Hélène Binet, reconsiders Hawksmoor’s architecture in relation to urbanism.
Hawksmoor’s London churches show an incredible variety of visual narratives that are instantly recognisable as the consistent work of a brilliant and inspired mind. The key distinguishing features of these churches are their spires, each designed with different qualities and motifs. The architecture of the spires, and of the buildings more generally, is the result of a fusion between fantasy and rationality, imagination and method. Yet, as Hawksmoor delved into the ancient history of architecture as catalyst for his imagination, his work was considered radical and contemporary in its day.
The spires, akin to Pope Sixtus V’s obelisks of Rome, rose throughout the city and became major urban markers. While Hawksmoor’s churches were built for specific locations and communities, they were also part of a much larger project for the building of some fifty new churches across the city. These structures are therefore also exemplars of a much larger urban ambition.
To highlight Hawksmoor’s scalar approach, Hélène Binet was specially commissioned to document the seven remaining London churches. These immaculate black and white large format photographs demonstrate the beauty of Hawksmoor’s architecture with special attention to the variety of scales, sites, interiors, textures and materials. Digitally conceived and fabricated resin models celebrate the connections between Hawksmoor’s structures and the city of London.