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West End Extra - The Xtra Diary
Published: 27 June 2008

Sir Terry Farrel
Sir Terry’s birthday vision for the city

IT’s not the usual way to celebrate your birthday, but then architect Sir Terry Farrell is not your average 70-year-old.

While many may choose the occasion to plan a gentle retirement, Sir Terry was outlining his vision for a major redesign of central London streets.
The architect used his birthday on Monday to give a lecture at Westminster University on a plan he has spent 10 years developing to create what he calls the “Nash Ramblas” – a pedestrian-friendly path leading from Primrose Hill through Regent’s Park, down Portland Place and through the West End to Carlton Terrace and The Mall.
Among an enthralled audience of more than 100 architects, urban planners, politicians and business leaders were Primrose Hill-based Sir Simon Jenkins (who was enthusiastic about the scheme), Oxford academic and Nash biographer Dr Geoffrey Tyack, Labour GLA member Nicky Gavron and the LSE’s Professor Tony Travers.
Sir Terry lamented that the funds for his vision – which would join up key Nash designed streets in central London and put pedestrians’ needs ahead of the car – had yet to be offered by local or central government.
He said: “We are all to ready to pay for giant engineering projects such as a water-pipe ringing London, and give them priority, yet we seem to have a problem committing investment into urban schemes that will improve the look and feel of our city.
“The economic benefits mean such public works to improve the look and feel of London are vital if we are to continue to be a city of world importance.”
It was an eloquent and wonderfully delivered plea for the recognition of good design.
Many happy returns, Sir Terry.

Artist gives us a lift for the body as metaphor

BRINGING a whole new meaning to the phrase one man stand, the controversial fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square will now be filled by real people.
Antony Gormley’s proposal, One and Other, will see a different person perch on the plinth every hour, 24 hours a day, for 100 consecutive days as part of the rolling programme of modern art earmarked for the site. Real people on the plinth… won’t some smart alec just push them off? And furthermore, can it really be art?
Mr Gormley explained the thinking behind the novel proposal. He said: “Through elevation onto the plinth and removal from common ground the body becomes a metaphor, a symbol and allows us to reflect on the diversity, vulnerability and particularity of the individual in contemporary society.” That’s good enough for us, Antony.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced Mr Gormley and Yinka Shonibare MBE as the winners of the next two commissions for the Fourth Plinth this week. Mr Shonibare’s proposal – Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle – is a more traditional offering, a scale replica of HMS Victory.
It remains to be seen whether Boris will join in the fun on the people’s perch. Fingers crossed eh.

Spotlight on endangered species

TV personality Alan Titchmarsh and ex-England cricketer David Gower were among the glitterati who came out to support the launch of a new exhibition of wildlife artist and conservationist David Shepherd at the Mall Galleries in St James’s on Tuesday.
The Three Generations Exhibition features original works by the Shepherd family and runs alongside entries to the inaugural Wildlife Artist of the Year competition run by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, with over 80 works by shortlisted artists.
All profit from sales will go to save endangered wildlife.
“It’s hard to get across to people just how desperate the plight of some of the planet’s key species is,” said Mr Shepherd.
“The illegal global trade in wildlife is second only to narcotics and is worth nearly $5billion.
“A single tiger skeleton, for example, will sell for $30,000.
“It’s difficult, therefore, to educate developing countries that their wildlife is worth more alive than dead, but you just have to look at Kenya’s successful brand of eco-tourism to know it’s true.”

Go to www.davidshepherd.org or www.wildlifeartistoftheyear.org

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