04 February 2014

2 Willow Road Blog - February 2014

Modernist 2 Willow Road reopening heralded by exciting new exhibition 

2 Willow Road is still under wraps at the moment having been “put to bed” for the brief winter months while we’re closed to visitors. The rooms are in quiet darkness and objects shrouded in acid-free tissue after a much needed winter clean and condition inspection in November – a painstaking and delicate process requiring steady nerves, especially as so many of our objects are of mixed or little known materials – from a Roland Penrose collage to a 1990s Christmas pudding. All of this work will help us to keep these beloved family things in the best condition possible and slow their inevitable deterioration.

Despite the house’s relative youth – it was completed in 1939 – the interiors are surprisingly delicate and exposed to lots of heat and light in the warmer months through the banks of clever Modernist window systems which were designed to bring the outdoors in. Wonderful views, both inside and out, but a conundrum for conservators. New and unobtrusive blackout blinds have helped, being lowered and raised depending on the angle of the sun – although not much of that around lately!

The wraps will come off later this month as we eagerly prepare for reopening from 1 March and look forward to seeing those of our fantastic volunteer team who were not involved in conservation projects alongside us over the winter much news to catch up on and exciting plans to share.

We had a meeting this week with Phil Mayer and Freeman Abayasekera from Ryan Gander’s studio in preparation for his exhibition here from 1 March The Artists Have The Keys. Taking as his inspiration the furniture and fittings that Ernö Goldfinger designed for 2 Willow Road, leading British artist Gander has created new works that will be exhibited interspersed with the collections in the architect’s Modernist home. One audio-visual work in the exhibition (A flawed and wounded man bleeding frames onto a page) is a performance of a children’s book written by Gander, entitled The Boy Who Always Looked Up, about Goldfinger’s relationship to his residential tower block, Trellick Tower in North Kensington. Look on our website for further details of this exciting project, as well as our Last Thursday Lates programme starting in April (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/2willowroad).

Watching the Bond film Goldfinger last weekend I realised there may be a reference to how Ian Fleming came up with the name for his film. The first time we meet Fleming’s eponymous antagonist is on the golf course, which is where, according to some, Fleming first heard the name. Fleming played golf on occasion with the cousin of Ursula Blackwell, Ernö Goldfinger’s wife. The name “Goldfinger” came up in conversation and was subsequently adopted by Fleming for his fictional villain (much to the real Goldfinger’s chagrin).

By Sara Nichols, Visitor Experience Co-ordinator, National Trust 2 Willow Road & Fenton House

Image credit: NT/David Watson

February 2014