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A ‘dull period’ for British architecture?

5 February 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Archigram Founder: ‘British Architecture has Entered a Dull Period’ | Peter Cook, a founding member of radical architectural group Archigram, has complained that his discipline is going through a ‘conservative’ phase in the UK, in which a ‘safe pair of hands’ is valued above innovation. Speaking at a lecture at RIBA, Cook praised the work of Zaha Hadid, but otherwise poured scorn on what he perceives to be a ‘narrow-minded’ architectural culture. ‘There’s not a spirit of adventure and discovery that there might have even been 20 years ago,’ Cook said. ‘Sometimes, dare I say, agenda is placed above creativity.’ On the strength of many recent developments in British cities, it is hard to disagree entirely.

National Media Museum Axes Film Festival | The National Media Museum has confirmed that it is to stop running the Bradford International Film Festival, confirming fears brought about last year when the festival was cancelled pending a review into its future. The annual festival, a high poitn of the city’s cultural calendar, has taken place at the museum since 1995. In 2009, Bradford was designated City of Film by UNESCO – the first time the international body had ever conferred the title. The news follows the announcement that the National Media Museum is to transfer its photographic archive to London’s V&A in a move that some commentators have described as a worrying sign for Britain’s regional museums. Though officials at the NMM stress that it is shifting its focus from film and photography to technology and science – Director Jo Quinton-Tulloch has spoken of ambitions to start a festival themed around computer games – there can be no doubt that it has ended the week with its assets much diminished.

Yemen: Reasons for the West’s ‘Relative Indifference’ over Cultural Destruction | Following yesterday’s report that rebel shells had badly damaged a major museum in the city of Taiz, Marie Zawisza has examined the widespread cultural destruction wrought by Yemen’s ongoing Civil War in  The Art Newspaper. For readers unfamiliar with Yemen’s singular position, it provides crucial context and an insight as to why, in comparison with Iraq and Syria, the cultural tragedy taking place in the south Arabian state has gone largely unreported in the West.

Export Bar for T.E. Lawrence’s Robes and Dagger | UK Culture minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on two items that once belonged to T.E. Lawrence, in the hope that £135,000 can be found to match an offer from overseas. Vaizey describes the objects – a set of white silk robes Lawrence wore when Augustus John painted him in 1919 and an ornamental dagger presented to him by Sherif Nasir in 1917 – as ‘absolutely iconic’ and Lawrence himself as ‘one of the most extraordinary figures of the 20th Century’. In this instance, it’s probably best not to bring up ‘Lawrence of Arabia’s extremely low opinion of politicians…

Getty Museum Acquires Rare Manuscript | Dr Jörn Günther Rare Books has announced that it has assisted in the J Paul Getty Museum’s successful acquisition of a rare secular Flemish manuscript, which will soon be on public display for the first time since it was created 500 years ago. The manuscript, which has never been sold, dates from around 1480 and describes the exploits of Burgundian knight Jacques de Lalaing, to whose descendants its provenance can be traced.

Chipperfield Hired to Create New Cultural Complex in Berlin | David Chipperfield has been commissioned to turn a 19th century brewery in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district into a state of the art new ‘cultural complex’, which will include a 2,000 sq metre gallery space. Chipperfield is no stranger to Berlin: in 2009, he was awarded Germany’s highest civil honour for his part in the reconstruction of the Neues Museum. Wunderbar.