Home > Architecture & Urban Design, Art, Sculpture & Photography, Collecting, Graphics & Illustration, People, Things I Like... > An amazing find… An original Basil Spence lithograph of Coventry Cathedral from 1957

An amazing find… An original Basil Spence lithograph of Coventry Cathedral from 1957

November 22, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’ve written a number of times before about synchronicity & The Lattice of Coincidence, or how a sequence of events can be given greater significance than they may deserve (especially by me). Well here’s another one for you…

One of the most amazing things to have come out of writing this blog is that I’ve become friends with the Artist William Mitchell and his lovely wife Joy. After reading some of my posts, Bill got in contact with me and we’ve since met up a couple of times. He’s an amazing guy, still making art, still a bit of a raconteur. He’s obviously lived the life and worked all over the world, with several appearances on Tomorrow’s World and various other entertainment shows throughout the 1960’s, whilst latterly he’s worked for Mohamed Al-Fayed.

We got talking about his work for various Architects during the 60’s and 70’s and I told him I was struggling to finish an overly long post on the Architecture Exhibition of the Festival of Britain at Poplar, and that it had now divided itself into 2 parts, the second of which wanted to be just about Frederick Gibberd, one of our most succesful post war architects…

“Aahh Freddy”, said Bill “I knew him well…” and off he went telling stories of a perfect gentleman with a big moustache, who sounded like a thoroughly nice chap indeed and who he had worked with on several projects, including of course their Masterpiece, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. Bill also said that, amongst other respected names from this period, he’d worked with Basil Spence, and told me a story about visiting Spence’s home and seeing the fantastic model for the Coventry Cathedral, just sitting in his front room (I guess it was the one in this photo above which Sir Basil is showing to some school kids…)

It was this reminder of Basil Spence that prompted me to complete an unfinished idea for a post on some of his beautiful drawings, that I published on Saturday morning…

Anyway the following day, we headed off with some friends to Dulwich College to the Mid Century Modern Show to see if we could buy some more lovely (but unnecessary) things for our home. We all thought this years event was ridiculously rammed, and not as enjoyable as in previous years, but I’m so glad we went, because I quite literally couldn’t belive my eyes when I saw this…

It’s a truly wonderful, lithograph print of Spence’s beautiful chalk drawing of Coventry Cathedral, which I have only seen used by The London Midland Train Co. for their “Rebirth of Coventry” advert below. My print is about 700 x 940mm, is in perfect condition and is of a very high quality (in fact so good, I wasn’t initially convinced it wasn’t the original, so bright & life like are the chalk marks).

It came in what looks to my untrained eyes like a contemporary teak frame. I was told when I bought it that the picture was previously owned by the original organist of the Cathedral, and was given to him in the late 50’s when the prints were originally made. Of course I have no way of knowing if this is true (and don’t really mind anyway, it’s a nice story, but the print itself is more than enough for me…).

I just had to have it.. A huge, perfect Basil Spence print of Coventry Cathedral.. unbelievable.. I went and got A and asked if a) we could afford it and b) she would she want it up on the wall.. she said yes to both and after some slight haggling and a bit more worry on my part about the cost… I took the plunge and bought it.

Would I have been so keen to buy it if I hadn’t been thinking and writing about Basil Spence over the last few weeks.. possibly, I will never know. But I am so glad that I’ve got it, it makes me happy every time I look at it. And once I’ve reinforced the wall to take its ridiculous weight, it will look absolutely fantastic, taking pride of place in living room…

  1. Vanessa
    November 24, 2011 at 09:36

    Hi – what a wonderful story.. and what a beautiful picture.. Obviously with the anniversary of the Cathedral next year we’re really interested in anything related – wondered if you might give me a call, or email your number: vanessa.pearce@bbc.co.uk

  2. Michelle Male
    December 3, 2011 at 19:07

    Gorgeous picture J! A very worthwhile investment whatever the cost! 🙂 Meech.

    • December 4, 2011 at 09:53

      Cheers Meech…
      You’ll have to come round and see it in the flesh so to speak.. it’s vibrancy after 50 odd years is amazing…

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