The society’s architect was Ian B. M. Hamilton, the grandfather of the current owners, whose collaboration with Bayes on the project must have led to the inclusion of Lot 66 in our October sale of The Contents of Lowood House, Bayes's duck finials, in the collection.
During the 1930's, Gilbert Bayes worked on a community art project for the St. Pancras Housing Association Improvement Society as part of a slum clearance scheme at Sidney Street in Somerstown, north of Euston station, and at other sites across London. The aim was the provision of high-quality homes for the poorest tenants. The society’s architect was Ian B. M. Hamilton, the grandfather of the current owners, and he designed all the new flats to stand on the cleared land. Since Bayes believed that art should be available to all people, this commission was very close to his heart. He produced relief model lunettes of fairy tale characters, as well as ceramic sculptures and post finials for the washing line posts. The finials were inspired by animals and plants, nursery rhymes, Christmas cards, or the lives of the saints.
All the post finials and relief panels were made by Royal Doulton between 1931 and 1938 and as well as at Somerstown the Society commissioned these embellishments by Bayes at their other London projects. These duck finials for example were used at the Athlone Estate (1933-7) in Kentish Town and the dragons, rose and thistle finials were made for the York Rise Estate (1937-8) near Highgate Hill. All the original post finials for the project have now been removed, although some original relief plaques and ornaments remain at Sidney Street.
Featuring in our forthcoming auction of The Contents of Lowood House, these finials must have come to be included in the collection through Ian Hamilton's collaboration with Bayes on the community art project.
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