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The Blower Foundation

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Context

View of Castle Street, Farnham, Surrey, by Michael Blower

The Blower Foundation (for Cultural Connection in the Built Environment) is a UK registered charity set up in 2004 to support projects and activities that connect people to their cultural heritage. The Trustees believe that where people can appreciate the history and personalities behind the places where they live, they will value and help to sustain those places. Where communities can share in and nurture this history, the past can come alive and a sense of belonging within these communities can become stronger. These are empowering and necessary endeavours in the fragmented world we live in today.

The Foundation supports a number of different activities in the local community, but the major activity on show here is the digital recording of a series of important archives by architects, photographers and artists with a particular emphasis on West Surrey. The central idea is that this material should be available widely over the internet. It is not the goal of the Foundation to expand this resource globally ad infinitum, but to demonstrate a model of how a community can value, sustain and appreciate its unique cultural heritage.

There are four collections on show here:

Sketch by Michael Blower of The Borelli Yard, West Street, Farnham, circa 1975

Michael Blower Sketchbooks

Michael Blower practised as an architect in the South-East of England in the last half of the 20th Century. In addition to his architectural drawings and professional career, he has been a lifelong draughtsman and inveterate sketcher of the people and buildings around his home in Surrey and at-large in the wider world. The sketchbooks run to over two hundred in number and include thousands of pen, wash, watercolour and pencil sketches drawn over a sixty year period.

This archive is a unique and personal record of Michael's local community, his life in it, its cultural heritage and changing landscapes and buildings. The archive continues to be digitised and expanded and what is now available is just a fraction of the total collection.

Stedman Blower Architects

Stedman Blower Architects were first founded in the modest English town of Farnham in 1895 by Arthur J. Stedman, followed by his son Leonard R. Stedman (the practice was firstly known as AJ Stedman Architect and then from 1935, AJ & LR Stedman Architects). In 1965, Leonard was joined in partnership by Michael J. Blower (the practice was then renamed Stedman & Blower) and after 1990 by his son, Robert A. Blower. Over four generations, they have been responsible for hundreds of projects in the local area of Surrey and the wider region of South East England. They have amassed thousands of records in drawings, models, designs and photographs. This material as a whole is important for its continuity and completeness as a record of a typical provincial architectural practice and their contribution to the cultural heritage of the English townscape and its countryside.

This collection shows a fraction of the total archive from the first one hundred years of the practice, from 1895-1995 and the Blower Foundation continues to add to the collection from a vast archive of tens of thousands of documents and drawings.

Aylwin Architects Archive

Drawing by Guy Maxell Aylwin of Equitable House Building Society, High Street, GuildfordGuy Maxwell Aylwin was one of Farnham's most talented architects in the inter-war period of the twentieth century. He was in sometime partnership with the celebrated architect, Harold Falkner, who is now recognized as a leading figure in the second generation of architects in the Arts & Crafts movement in England in the twentieth century and was also Farnham-born. Guy's son, John, and John's wife were both architects and continued the practice until the late 1980s, so the Aylwin family made a significant contribution to the cultural heritage of West Surrey over much of the twentieth century.

In 2010, Richard Maxwell Aylwin donated his grandfather and parent's archive of documents and drawings to the Blower Foundation. The archive constitutes eleven boxes of documents, a roll of drawings, as well as two architectural models and dozens of framed pictures and drawings. There is also a project ledger. The Blower Foundation continues the arduous process of digitally recording the archive and adding to the collection.

Library of Building Images

Photograph of The White House, Haslemere by Amyas Connell, of Connell Ward Lucas Architects, Circa 1930

Between 1992 and 1995, Damien Blower embarked on a project to visit and photograph the best architecture of Los Angeles. He finally collected over two thousand slides of buildings designed by some of the great figures of twentieth century architecture, such as Frank Gehry, Frank Lloyd Wright, Rudolf Schindler and Richard Neutra. He also photographed buildings by some of the lesser known architects of the region, such as Gregory Ain, Harwell Hamilton Harris and Quincy Jones. 109 of the best images from this slide collection now reside on the RIBA's globally important Picture Collection.

When Damien returned to Farnham in 2001, he wanted to record the architecture of the region in which he was born, which includes buildings by some of the seminal architects of the last two hundred years, from Lutyens to Voysey, via Amyas Connell, Patrick Gwynn and the Gilbert Scotts. There are also images of the works of lesser known architects that work at the "coalface" of every English town, but whose contribution to the background of our cities should not be undervalued. This collection continues to expand as a database of the buildings and places with a particular emphasis on Surrey, although not exclusively so.

Copyright

Copyright for all images held in this collection is owned by the Blower Foundation.

Contact

Address: The Blower Foundation
The Studio
Runfold St.George
Farnham
Surrey
GU10 1PL
Tel: +44 (0) 1252 783574
Email: charity@cultural-connection.org
URL: http://www.blowerfoundation.org

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