words Vicky Richardson
top image Mike Massaro
Vicky Richardson is director of the British Council Department of Architecture, Design and Fashion since 2010, Richardson was formerly a magazine editor and writer.
Urban Physic Garden, London (top image)
I loved visiting this garden, which was created by designers and contributors from several different backgrounds. Outdoor rooms organised the plants by ailment, as if the garden was a series of hospital wards and linked into the history of the area nearby Guy’s Hospital. One of the best elements was a system of copper pipes by artist Tom Foulsham, which intermittently showered the plants with water. Graphic materials, such as a newspaper and website, were also beautifully designed.
Power of Making, V&A museum, London
This was one of the best exhibitions of the year. It seemed to have just the right degree of curatorial guidance – presenting a range of fascinating objects and techniques and leaving it up to the visitor to make their own mind up about the significance. Essays in the catalogue were an excellent prompt to explore the historical and contemporary issues of making. The timing of this show seemed perfect, with the growing debate about the future of manufacturing in the UK.
image Marloes Ten Bhomer
Yohji Making Waves, Wapping Project, London
Jules Wright set up the Wapping Project more than 10 years ago, but she never takes the easy option or stands still in her commissioning of work. This installation by Misao Nihei in collaboration with the Wapping Project, coincided with Yohji Yamamoto’s major exhibition at the V&A. Wright completely flooded the Boiler Room of the former Hydraulic Power station with water and suspended a giant wedding dress (from Yamamoto’s 1998 collection) above it, creating a magical series of reflections.
image V&A Images
The Hepworth Wakefield, David Chipperfield
This was the year in which we got two wonderful new projects by Chipperfield. I enjoyed Turner Contemporary, particularly the way the building frames the view of Margate. But the Hepworth is a much more complex and beautiful building, which manages to be radically new and different, and is also totally at home on its site alongside the river.
image Iwan Baan
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Throughout his career McQueen continually pushed the accepted boundaries of beauty and his obsession with life and death, beauty and decay was frequently misunderstood. The exhibition was a fitting tribute: it was like a theatre set, which brilliantly translated the drama of the catwalk into a static show. For the first time it offered access to McQueen’s incredible archive which is made up of familiar pieces, but was seen here close-up.
image Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Copan Building, Sao Paulo, Oscar Niemeyer
In June I visited Brazil to begin planning a programme called Transform, which is a festival of British arts during 2012/13. In the 10 days of meetings and visits, I saw dozens of buildings by Oscar Niemeyer. Probably the most amazing was the Copan in Sao Paulo, which was built in the 1950s. With this building Niemeyer seems to have tested out many ideas that architects in Europe didn’t discover till decades later.