Sunday, August 26, 2007

Corporation Street, Birmingham

This is an engaging example of the way a detail can reveal the history of a building. The carvings form part of the front of an imposing 1890s shop front, now occupied by the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, not far from Birmingham’s Law Courts. The frieze shows carpenters at work, because the shop was originally built for the furniture firm of A R Dean. Nearby are carvings of people eating, because part of the building was a vegetarian restaurant. The friezes are by Benjamin Creswick, who started out as a knife-grinder in Sheffield before his talent as a sculptor was discovered by Ruskin. There are other examples of his work in Birmingham, including carvings on the Junior School at Bournville.

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