Thursday, January 24, 2008

Albert Embankment, London

Before I leave my exploration of friezes, decorations, and reliefs, features that seem to have been preoccupying me on my recent walks around London, here’s one more example. The headquarters building of the London Fire Brigade on Albert Embankment was built in 1937 to designs by architects of the London County Council. It’s a rather monolithic building, characteristic of the strong, silent phase of English building in the 1930s, and not everyone likes it. But it has a saving grace – a dazzling set of relief sculptures by Gilbert Bayes.

This one, part way up the Embankment façade, is a dramatic scene featuring firefighters, but not as we know them. These firefighters have fishy tails. Yes, they’re merfiremen, the perfect mythological creatures for a Fire Brigade HQ by the River Thames. Other reliefs depict galleys (the riverside theme again), and Phoebus with the rays of the risen sun. It’s not just the gilding that makes me think of the interwar period as something of a golden age of architectural. sculpture in London.

Thanks to Zoe, who blogs with such flair about her adventures in the Czech Republic here, for telling me to look at this building.


Einar said...

I just ran across you while searching about architectural sculpture, and must move on, but hope to return soon. Einar

Einar said...

I think I'm signed on now and that my original post didn't take. I am just drifting through while looking for 'architectural sculpture" and enjoyed my stay and need to drift on. EInar