New Small Cullen

Taking the time to write something considered and share it online is not easy, so getting reminded why it’s worth it is always welcome.  I’ve certainly appreciated all the supportive comments about my first submission to the housing blog over at bdonline.co.uk and much more importantly I’ve learnt lots in return from people sending links and sharing knowledge. The real star of that show though is undoubtedly the delightful book by FRS Yorke and Penelope Whiting: The New Small House.

the-new-small-house

The added bonus being this suitably charming cover by none other than Gordon Cullen. As a student of the mid-nineties, surrounded at the time by all the linguistic gymnastics of post structuralist decision dodging, I’ve noticed that with age my later interests appear to be an act of rebellion and I’m becoming an arch-empiricist.  Yesterday I was into linguistics, but today I’m not Saussure.

This is a fact well recorded in years gone by with entries and even the occasional sketch on Cullen that ranged from simple explorations of sections of Townscape through to more unusual assessments involving a skunk called Pepe Le Pew.

I was unimaginably flattered then to recently receive an e-mail from a reader who likened my own sketches to the work of Cullen and even more excited to discover an opportunity to share some more of his work.

Gorden Cullen sketch

Here’s Eric Osbourne describing the history of the sketch he’s been the proud owner of for years:

I have been trying to remember the firm I shared 16 Carlisle Street, London W1 with from about 1968 to 1970, I think they were called Phillip Chandos, because they were drinking in the Chandos Pub opposite the Nurse Cavell Statue, St. Martins’ Lane when the company was conceived – drinking was important to the company ethos! They use to write, design, edit and sub-contract printing for books and leaflets on various aspects of construction and architecture. The Lead Association springs to mind. Gordon Cullen was in and out all the time and very good friends of the main man (a tall guy with a long horizontal moustache and always sporting a bow tie), who had his office on the first floor. All their names are gone now but I remember Gordon would arrive at 11.00/11.30, the office manager would go down and we would hear peals of laughter. At opening time they would either go to the ‘Bath House’ pub on the corner for a ‘quick one’ which lasted until 3.00 or the Braganza, Soho Square in which case you did not see the three of them again that day. After they moved, I do remember going to their new offices in Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden for a very quick drink, with accumulated post and the drawing which I had found amongst the serious piles of rubbish they had left behind. I was told I could keep it and I have treasured it every since – it’s the nearest thing I have to a William Blake/Picasso/Durer – a true masterpiece.

I don’t know whether it was commissioned for anything else or used in any publications so perhaps this is its first outing beyond Eric’s home. Thanks for taking to the time to share it with us Eric. I dream, literally, of being able to muster such line quality so effortlessly.

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  1. Linkage | things magazine
    Linkage | things magazine at |

    [...] is truth. Analogue is reality. It’s time for us to embrace the Analogue Future‘ / all about The New Small House, a Gordon Cullen classic, over at no2self / city planning fail: Markasaurus on the opposite view [...]

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