Betts Project is an art gallery, which promotes architects’ works by exhibiting materials that have been produced as part of the design process. As its founder Marie Coulon, says herself, it is a “niche” art gallery.
Marie studied at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and during that time she became friends with an architecture student from the Architectural Association School of Architecture after a fortuitous meeting in a café. Marie was introduced to the students’ projects at the AA, where she discovered how artistic architectural works can be, that sometimes they can convey as much conceptually as a contemporary artwork.
Betts Project may not have happened without Marie’s discovery of students’ works at the AA. We go through years of training to become architects and for many of us, the years spent at architecture school are formative in our careers and character as designers. It is an opportunity for us to focus on conceptual and theoretical thinking and exploring ways to represent those ideas. Marie’s current exhibition is something that is close to my heart. It displays a series of drawings by Florian Beigel and Philip Cristou who were my tutors in my final year of architecture school. Florian and Philip are very influential figures and alongside built work in the UK and Korea have taught architecture for over thirty years. Some of their former students are now well established and also internationally acclaimed architects.
The exhibition consists of only pencil line drawings. Some drawings are from Florian and Philip’s previous projects, and some were more recently produced still life drawings. Florian and Philip have been working in Korea for many years and some of the initial concept sketches are displayed in the exhibition. The series of sketches made for a ‘shanty village’ project on the edge of Seoul is inspired. There are lines defining the edges of houses which lead us to find a public space with a small aedicule-like tower under a chestnut tree.
The drawings are presented without any captions and that gives a sense of mystery. It detaches the drawings from the process of architectural design and they become works of art. Florian and Philip approach architecture with generosity, they would never rush the process of drawing or thinking.
I am fond of all their drawings but one particular series caught my attention. The drawings of what look like boxes with lines carefully positioned to express the spaces between objects are reminiscent of Giorgio Morandi’s paintings that Florian and Philip find inspirational. In the summer of 2017, Florian and Philip retired from teaching. It was a very poignant moment, looking at the drawings of boxes dated august 2017, Marie added, ‘they were packing at the time’.
Mayuko Kanasugi - 6a Architects
FLORIAN BEIGEL & PHILIP CHRISTOU, a dream of innocence is on until 7 April 2018. Betts Project, 100 Central Street, London EC1V 8AJ
For a further a look at the beautiful work of 6a architects click the link - www.6a.co.uk