Bernat Klein and Peter Womersley

Michael Wolchover

Bernat Klein and Peter Womersley

The collaboration that created High Sunderland brings together two important strands in my own career – architectural photography and textile design.

Michael Wolchover is a photographer and printed textile designer whose subject is the relationship between the built environment and the natural world. Studying interior design in London during the heyday of ‘Mid-Century Modern’ gave a profound influence on his later work in other media and a lifelong devotion to the style of architecture exemplified by High Sunderland.

Now living in Scotland, the opportunity to photograph Bernat Klein's house was one not to be missed.

High Sunderland, 2015

In 2015 I had the good fortune to be doing freelance work for Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh when they decided to curate the exhibition Bernat Klein: A Life in COLOUR.

Sensing an opportunity, I immediately asked whether they would like me to photograph High Sunderland for the exhibition.

It soon became clear that there was no budget for such frivolities, or even for a full catalogue of the show, but I persuaded them to ask Bernat's daughter, Shelley Klein whether she would allow me to take photographs anyway.

Shelley agreed, and fortuitously the day we chose for the shoot turned out to be the best of the summer – warm, cloudless and still – and my then assistant Emily Beckman and I spent a delightful day in the company of one of the twentieth century’s architectural masterpieces, while Shelley was kindness itself giving us lunch on the sunlit terrace.

High Sunderland, 2015

The resulting photographs seemed to reflect the pleasure of that day.

Mosaic and coloured glass facades, 2015

I felt they deserved to be presented in some way to a wider audience, and by another stroke of fortune my friend Ian Stuart Campbell, architect and designer of some renown and recently retired, was in need of a project. I suggested collaborating on a publication.

high sunderland detail, 2015

The outcome was a slim volume entitled High Sunderland - the Home and Studio of Bernat Klein with design and text by Ian, an introduction by Iain Connelly PPRIAS, a foreword from Neil Baxter, then Secretary of RIAS, and a selection of my photographs.

When the directors of Dovecot Studios saw the draft publication they suggested adding a section at the end devoted to Jed Gordon’s photographs of the exhibits to be presented at A LIFE IN COLOUR, effectively providing a catalogue of the exhibition. It would be offered for sale at the Dovecot Gallery shop.

In fact High Sunderland went on to outlive the exhibition, enjoying two reprints, and continuing to be sold at Dovecot, the RIAS shop and Margaret Howell’s stores in London and Tokyo.

The dedication at the front of High SunderlandThe Home and Studio of Bernat Klein reads,

'The object of this little book is to remind us of the special understanding which has traditionally existed between artists and architects, and to demonstrate the benefits to the built environment where art and architecture work in harmony.' Ian Campbell, 2015.

High Sunderland Interior, 2015

High Sunderland Interior detail, 2015

I am pleased to have been able to contribute a record of Bernat Klein and Peter Womersley's collaboration.

And to prove the truth of the expression, 'nothing ventured, nothing gained'.

High sunderland, 2015