Thursday, 26 April 2012

High Cross House

Today my hubby took me on one of his Magical Mystery Tours – I love those! He took me to High Cross House in Dartington, one of the National Trust’s latest acquisitions. We have driven past it so many times over the years and have often yearned to go in, so it’s great that it is now open to the public. It’s a fine example of Modernist Architecture, a style we both admire with its clean lines, white walls with the odd splash of colour, flat planes, curved walls, and lots of glass. This house has many different levels and several outside balconies to catch the best of the sun.

As usual, the full collection of photos can be seen in my Photobucket album, but here’s a sample.

Here are a couple of views of the exterior of this interesting house. It must have seemed revolutionary when it was first built.

I particularly like this little corner, where blue and white walls abut, with their sharp rectangles, flat planes and regimented windows, offset by the natural form of the young maple tree.

I love texture! I couldn’t resist these two tree trunks. Look at that “crackle glaze” effect in the second one! Yummy.

Inside, the house is sparsely furnished with the few remaining original pieces, but apparently the National Trust will be sourcing additional items from the period. Meanwhile, it is easy to see the clean lines of the architecture. Most of the internal walls are white, with the addition of an occasional dramatic slab of blue or yellow. Lots of interesting shapes are created with the angle of the staircase, the presence of the odd curving wall, and the play of light and shade, and the spaces between the structures.

The dining room has windows on two sides. The furniture with its simple lines, is original, and the chairs are beautifully sprung, being made of tubular steel and covered with laced leather.

Several steps lead down into the sitting room which is a very light, airy room with large windows and very clean lines. Again, there are original tubular chairs which are probably a lot more comfortable than they look!

Look at the detail in this marble slab above the fireplace.

A view of the dining room, up the steps from the sitting room.

The study, with its window around the curved corner, is the site of a display of 20th century ceramics, including pieces by Bernard Leach, Lucie Rie, and to my delight, Marianne de Trey – years ago I bought a whole set of her “Pattern 1” stoneware pottery, and I had the great privilege of meeting this wonderful lady on more than one occasion – the latest being a couple of years ago at a friend’s wedding. She is now in her 90s.

The staircase is characteristically simple, with a plain polished wood bannister, and it rises between the curved wall on one side and the dramatic splash of yellow on the other.

The room at the top has access to an open balcony with wonderful views over the garden and beyond. There are balconies on several levels of the house, to catch the sun at different times of the day. This is a very common feature in houses built in the Modernist style.

I love the play of light and shade, and the shapes formed by the different planes of wall and ceiling. This house is far from a boring white box!

This photo is an inspiration for an abstract zentangle.

In two of the upstairs rooms we found artists’ studios, but unfortunately no artists! One creates astonishingly rich couture pieces from vintage and recycled textiles and glories in the name “Get Clobbered”!

Also featured was the work of an artist who seemed to be specialising in the basic shape of the female torso and embellishing it – I thought these pictures were particularly inspiring from the Zentangle point of view!

Finally we found the work of an artist working with pencil line – much of his work seemed to consist of texture formed by letters written and over-written in a most intriguing way.

The National Trust have restored this house with a light touch, retaining its air of wonderful serenity. The rooms are beautifully proportioned, and it is very quiet. Despite the lack of space, they have managed to squeeze in their obligatory restaurant and shop – small they may be, but in two adjoining rooms, you can look at the shop items while you eat your soup and cake! The items for sale are quite limited, but chosen with care to reflect the era of the house. As well as the normal tables, they have created deep windowsills where you can sit and eat your meal, and look out over the garden.

Altogether, another wonderful outing courtesy of my star-studded hubby! He’s been wanting to take me there for ages, and it’s not too far from where we live. As usual I came back stimulated and full of inspiration!

2 comments:

  1. Here we go, Shoshi is going to zentangle someones toosh lol

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  2. Hi Shoshi - so nice to see your wonderfully detailed Blog on High Cross House! I play the piano there every Thursday lunchtime (well, nearly every Thursday) - maybe we'll catch up there one day? It's a beautiful piano - a Steinway Model 'S' especially chosen for Dorothy Elmhirst by Hans Oppenheim :)
    Dawn (aka Sonya Katasheva - my pseudonym)

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