Starred Up : A Film Review

Director David MacKenzie. Written by Jonathan Asser. UK 2013. 1hr 46mins.
12 x 7 x 10 feet high
Every cell in the Crumlin Road jail was around these dimensions. Every prisoner shared a cell sometimes three to a cell. The windows were high and each of the 4 wings came off a control centre. The symmetry of the place is as unsettling as the restricted spaces inhabited by the regime and the inmates. Crumlin Road Jail is the centerpiece non-speaking part in this dark film.
Desolation Row
It was into this environment, first into a secure single basement unit young Eric Love, played with intensity and mastery by Jack O’Connnell is introduced to Adult Prison life. He has graduated in the slippery scale of prisoner status having Starred Up, been a leader without a cause in the young offenders unit he has been here despatched from. The rows of cells face each other like surreal bedsit flats with three inch thick steel doors and a letterbox viewer at just below eye level for vertically challenged screws. This really is the end of the current road. Many inmates due spending extremely long periods in these vile in-humane conditions. The narrative of prison reform is portrayed only a control freak. The character Oliver, a self contained anger management teacher whose instinct he selflessly deploys in managing those few attendees at his Governor authorised encounters with the prisoners. His skills are borne of his own well educated and unknown derangement with a singular role of being someone he defines as being of use to fellow human beings. At continual cost to himself. So the borders and boundaries for Eric are the confines. What of the fluid state of the rest, those whose bodies comprise around 87% water? The other inmates whose only defence seems to be their physicality and bruised minds.
Jail House Rules
On his first exercise the second main character dissects the circling inmates, signaling an existing status above the rest as he crosses and approaches an isolated Eric standing alone and surveyor of the factions and clocks all around him as he smokes or looks to smoke beneath the high mesh fence.
This is his father, Neville Love, played by a twitchy Ben Mendelsohn.
The role is equally as demanding and is collected and carried as a force of anger pent up and without sense of time or purpose. As a means of communicating beyond basic verbal discourse, other than the primary token of male presence, body language, Neville nudges, communicates a great deal with a bow, shuffle of the feet or his shoulders which begin rotating and halting as a hunched internal piston wrapped in swarf laden oil.
They play off each other’s unspoken love. The never purposefully expressed love.
The love absent and through lack of, the love missing when the demons appeared to enter their lives. The narrative develops progressively deepening the fault lines present in their lives, adding new layers on this layer cake violent environment without cliche or sentiment.
The writer, Jonathan Asser, himself an ex, Wandsworth Prison therapist – which I assume he has extemporalised a great deal on, (otherwise he has had a life of caning himself on finding a new route for others), has taken each scene of the relentless gruesome violence which makes this film grab your attention and wrung the blood and water out of it until everyone has a dry disembodied taste in their mouth. The director David Mackenzie ratchets up the bi-polar criminalistics of naked ruthlessness and somewhat nascent racist division. The group which Oliver operates acts as a racial forum showing the capacities to hate irregardless of race and how most violence occurs through primordial fear. Kick offs are the glue that binds the prisoners existence. They establish the knocking order and the pyramid has its head within the prison where issues can be taken.
A large part of the film is devoted to the ruinous state the regime is in. Far from reforms being exercised or even given some scope the inn-keepers are fractured and flawed and not involved on any emotional level and given the conditions it is not the least surprising.
If I saw a Chapel or a Congregational spiritual place where no words were to be spoken, thoughts could come and go and a higher essence be reached then it must have been in a nano second of light because I remember no such place. It had no visible drug issues either, except the hand to hand transactions – and one hand beneath pillow act, that seemed to have been the writers only hint of it. The use of force and values extended by the regime however were of a level which gave little prospect of reform or even retention of self belief. The fuses were very short for good reason in a lot of cases. That belied the measures and not the means.
The entry of Eric into this prison became a contest and battle with his self control. His father with a belated interest in his son begins to see sides of himself and his son that he wasn’t bargaining for. One kick off happens when it becomes obvious to him the son can make his own choices and the fact Eric is in his Neville’s long resided in establishment Neville find his marker has moved so menaces his son into explaining what he is at. The don’t answer back slippage used is well gone. Along with the characterisations and full on interactions, this is what engages and lifts the viewers expectations. How will this pan out? Will Eric reach a goal he has yet to be shown or will it end up in the bin as lives un recyclable?
It takes both an accomplished director and writer not to overwhelm and in creating a contemporary piece it carries without proselytising a message that much of what we are seeing could be the present condition somewhere of incarceration. The prisoners in the therapy group or the place were those attending get to speak their minds, to some extent show how things can improve and their dialogue speaks volumes more than reports by institutions written for institutions. The Regime has its conspirators as do the prisoners. The actors doing the rounds as warders and the ordinary joes caught up in their own choice of failures as criminals are very well acted throughout. The coloured prisoners work out who they can and cannot trust across the races and their own instincts tend to serve them at this sharp end where time boredom and reflection feature most of the time.
That is when it doesn’t kick off. But if I could give the prisoners a piece of advice it would be to keep their door on the landing closed as there are a lot of criminals about. Grayson Perry apparently couldn’t believe it when he was on in the streets of the Newtownards Road a while back – that people still left their front doors open. “It’s not like that around Islington where I live” he apparently said.

****4 A very well made British film which ‘captures’ the eye and takes no prisoners. Sorry couldn’t help it. Very compelling narrative and densely packed with bravura performances worthy of high award when the season comes next around. No small part played by Northern Ireland Screen and local contributors. Shame some nob is going to be distilling exotic drink near its walls. You would think someone would have learnt how bad addictions have taken hold here and elsewhere. Enough crime being drug and alcohol based locally to keep lock ups like the 4M’s – Magaberry, Magilligan, Mountjoy, Maze in business for years to come.
And why were there no drugs etc on the wings in show?
The product placement was of cigarettes and a shout out for a brand of rolling tobacco. Another of Belfasts poor trade history perhaps.

John Graham


23 March 2014

QFT Belfast Friday 21st March to 27th March 2014.
On general release.


Hebrews 13:3

Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt the pain in your own bodies.

Matthew 25:3

Then will they make answer, saying, Lord, when did we see you in need of food or drink, or wandering, or without clothing, or ill, or in prison, and did not take care of you.

Boring Politics : Lebedevs Point

Recently there has been a catch penny game going on locally as the elections for the ‘super’ councils and European elections loom into view.
In the background politically the spatially challenged, they don’t get a big office, figure out and contrast the deception qualities of their functionaries the politicians or Councillors or MLA’s as they exchange batons either through heftily loftily hurled cranium blows in inhouse confrontations and backstabbing contests and elicit the rota for Election. From what crevice or peace line wall can a Batwoman or Batman hang with their upside down view of the world? East or further West. Russian Facism or American Corpratism?  You might think you decide.
The crayon diagrams of the last acquired skill academy they actively engaged with, primary; the later institutions were a breeze of rote, are presented to the assistant headmaster who using the same skills but using highlighter pen in order not to look conspicuous on the school bus home sets to the shamy mandering hierarchy and aspirational accounting and politically shape-forming sets about drawing the layers of the pyramid while taking the traditional route home on the 13.

The basic outline is fluidly agreed. After all this is also another primary skill, that of building sand castles. Instantly I am reminded of a pre Assembly election cartoon, someone out there must have kept a copy before the ubiquity of the apps and I hope it turns up, was of the parties on the beach.

Some were drifting out offshore, others dipping their toes in the water.
Former combatants were sharing mugs of tea on their shared towel with a biscuit, jammy dodgers I think, past their sell by date. Wannabee combatants were knocking two bells out of each other and the women were justly outraged and screaming as the kids looked like drowning. OK it might not have included such details but it contained variations thereof. One memorable one was of the party flip- flop Ms. Bradshaw talking to some new friend while Mr Parsley sat astride a groyne not knowing which side of the sea-defence he preferred to sit on. The gaze was hypnotic, in fact he – the cartoonist was so gifted – looked out of a politically empty brain box.
He might have been wearing Blue tinted sunglasses, the ones he bought on Tory Island.

Was there also a King Canute? Mr Paisley or was he on the retirees section of the beach looking after the water wings and grandchildren. I can’t remember and he most probably has forgotten as he seems to have forgotten many things just recently, I’m the same, memory not what it was.
One or two members were heading of also to the nudist beach hand in hand but we only caught a sight of their inflated egos. Probably of to do their own thing taking precautions in case they are caught with their pants down.
I would warn them the Maram grass could give them a nasty rash and grass burns but they are near the quicksand and I won’t risk it.

What about today? Is the beach deserted? Has climate change swept up Sammy with the masses of dulse and kelp? Is he out collecting litter in the environmental health committee again looking after bins and parks.
He had this idea of renaming the twin park, Alexandra Park, you know the one with the diving fence through it, Rosa Parks but the bus driver wouldn’t let him on without his proper colored pass. Sammy must be a martyr to saddle sores now they’ve talked the Dundonald Taxi off him.
Talking of parks, some beano took the roses down to a foot off the ground in one of our splendid parks across all beds! I saw a Pup running around confused at the behaviour of a bat. One looked like Lord Carson the other looked like Les Dennis but twice as funny and both were flagging running around in circles. Both looked on the edge of tears if they didn’t get to fetch the big stick off of each other. Thank goodness there was a Park Attendant with some weed to feed them. Last time they were slapping some paint or other territory maker on the lamposts and chasing down dogs they didn’t like. It was barking mad and if it weren’t for the fact there isn’t a scrap of grass in our estate I wouldn’t come near it. Our estate has a new speed trail like the one in Rostrevor. We must ask Niaomi Campbell to get us one with trees and things like that. But she is off modelling meringue outfits in London any time I pass her office.

Back to the beach. A bloke called Richard (Hass we’ll call him as he is nothing but a hassle) but anyway he is standing there at the waters edge saying something about where the bodies are buried. He explains he wants them to remain buried and wait until archeologists of the NWO turn them up when the beach has become a car park for Martian tourists. Nige tells him it will just be like them digging up Richard the 3’s head in that Leicester car park. Nelson butts in and says it really belongs in York you know. York has a higher claim because Monarchially it has governance. Dicky thinks they may as well be talking about North Korea for all he knows. Anyway so long as his NY bankers friends and G8 Bildenberg guys accept the interest charges are not nama’ed and secure he’ll keep the boats afloat.
The Queen’s boat is apparently moored off shore or is it a Titanic replica? Marty says the Titanic thing is a masouleum for ideas and Marty asks the dog he is playing beach cricket with “I wonder what floats her boat?”
The suit tells him she has been told to visit the Causeway but is in a strop because she agreed to shake hands only on the basis she could visit Coolmore and the Irish National stud. It did not come as a shock to her the majority of people were nice but it’s pushing it to socalise a bit with them.
The NIO man said as they were very helpful in past wars and we loved each other really she would like to come here more often, maybe ride her horse from Carrickfergus to the Boyne. The traffic is terrible though at Troopers Lane and Mountpottinger is chaos each morning.
Pete has obtained planning permission for a set of stables on his land at Craigantlet which is very handy. Horses for courses he says to himself apparently when he’s in the bath, so the tittle tattle goes, and he much prefers that immersion to the itchy back scratching ceremonies on the glowed coast.

Marty asked the NIO man what his name was and the suit told him frankly I can’t.
Quick as a flash (Harry) Marty chipped “So your Frankly ICount”. Nearly as bad as your real name, I know I’ve got my inside boyo’s everywhere.
Bob Gascoyne-Cecil it is isn’t it? Dave’s yer uncle eh!
Across the beach UKIP Tiling works was calling out to a wet floating off like a Progressive Democrat to he Maldives, it looked like one bobbin’ about floater Basil. The shout out was “Your out of your depth” – he was in one foot of water, for which the reply came “I’m trying to catch my crayfish dinner.”
At the lo water mark there was a woman with a long stick marking out a map of the world putting in all the colonies. She might have know the evidence would be wiped out come the next tide but she was making a hames of it as Northern Ireland was twinned with Crimea or someplace apparently near Odessa Street.
Another woman fired up on the Moy chicken Kievs was sitting on top of a twelve foot drill, no kidding, she was astride it like a bucking bronco, like a heifer on heat and spinning like a top shouting something like “Fracking Marvelous, Fracking Marvelous”. A green leprechaun came along telling her to stop. The noise wasn’t allowing him to think and the sewage struck was full of farmers nitrates and St Patricks day tins and tourist garbage.
The children noticed all this and began clearing up shredded paper (illegally dumped election leaflets, bill revision, enquiry papers and lots of shredded plastic stuff, plastic bags etc. Bits of dog biscuits and broken China etc, etc.
You’d be amazed what they can dig up in this place.
One turned to the other and said “You never find crayons anymore”
Junior said “It because the adults need them, me da says.”
Topper said back “It waxes but it never wains”

Me Ma said the other night, haven’t figured out what she meant yet, “Hold on to your dreams son, keep sleeping.”

Oh and Lebdev, well he’s a Russian Oligarch and his boat hasn’t come in here yet.

John Graham


21 March 2014.

Joanna Millan

I have responded to a talk given by Joanne Millan whose graceful testimony of the Holocaust has informed and moved many thousands of people throughout the world. She speaks of her time of following her deportation, one of 140,936 to Thereseintandt as a three year old and was liberated by Russian Soldiers.

She says “History awakens us to dangers.” 20140318-144843.jpg

Under the Skin : A Film Review

Warm and Cold Blood Directed by Jonathan Glazer. Script by William Campbell.
You may have seen some strange movies and this may rate among them as one of the more challenging and difficult to get a handle on.
Jonathan Glazer, whose persona is as an affable and middle class Essex man and whose dark imaginings are homed in compartments as chapters of visionary expression of alien tales, has held onto a ten years dream in realising this film with time producing a highly developed theme.
Given this timescale there might be absences which remain in the directors reading of the story which are hard in the subsequently realised film for the viewer to tease out but ultimately it succeeds in delivering a vision in primary cold and warm blood.
It is based on the Michael Faber book of the same name.
Over this time Glazer has had lofty ambitions and collaborators working on it and overtime it has metamorpised into the pared down extremely raw culturally alien content we have revealed to us in the landscape of Scotland.
Alien Skin
The story has Scarlett Johanssen fit herself into a human creatures skin.
The real alien actor her form takes has a quest to discover the meaning of humans and the earth they exist on. To enable the story to work you need concede there is some motivation involved otherwise the actions are futile and without design. The being is what intrigues this alien. Her character, delivered with a British pre referendum English accent, is a woman whose skin she inhabits. This is delivered to her entirely lifeless by her collaborator and protector. A man.
The enabler, body guard, interpreter – who never speaks – is none other than Jeremy McWilliams, the renowned NI born World Moto GP rider, cast as a motorcycle rider following her everywhere and seemingly aware of her quest and endeavors.
They seldom meet but his background presence assists the exploration and the motorcycle races through the film on a winding, sometimes straight, wide topography on a speed fix at full throttle. The choke is out which contrasts with the seemingly sedate pace of the visitor. The malevolent controlling moving rider component is borne with the violence of speed traversing land uncompromisingly. He pushes the bike hard like a heart pushing red blood cells through a bodies veins. Having a life rush.
Jeremy McWilliams provides a harbinger portentous force not intent on any failure, controls or morality of any kind.
Alien Place
In the city the urban life confuses the Alien as she drives around observing people in their isolation as they shop, traverse the spaces between buildings talk or don’t talk to each other. Actor took control over director where they went and the randomness of real life encounters were junctions to assume a starting place for the fiction. I think this in effect makes Scarlett número uno director. It’s her path visualized by Glazer somehow. It steps up on male suburban alien fantasy somewhat and maybe taken over in the astounding performance of the created abstract.
When it is dusk she seeks out single men from the front seat of her van. The cabin and van are anonymous to the real life Glasgow which Glazer hoovers up in its city urbanism, providing the ordinary. The device of dark streets punctuated by harsh lighting provides the extremity, the Incivility of night spaces. in the urban sprawl of road and roundabouts the visitor sees no value loss, seeing only persons going from a to b and she enquiries of.
The female she is, is mirrored in odd segments of surprise in frames. She collects these part reflections of her in habitation as an accumulation. Her body seen by her in parts builds for her a perception of a human being and in one interaction with a male she touches literally on her progressively expressed emotive reactions. She has no interior self otherwise. Acting the part of a human, the alien has been equipped to converse in the language adopted. This is realised compellingly in a coupling which shifts her concepts of humans and makes contact with pain and the angst ridden private lives challenged by their surroundings and other people. Initially without a soul she is predatory for the experiences she believes is at the heart of our existence. A surface seen as skin.
The he clothes are trashy but literate. It is not a rock star guise but a use of clothes not in the literal sense, as Paloma Faiths use of image as a protection. Seeing me as not the shy or insecure person that I am.
Alien Shifting
It was as J McW accounted to me after seeing the film for his second time “Its something different”. I took this in part to be the fact he was now an actor albeit in a character part which carries naturally held skills with ease and also that the film itself was conceptually on the outside. He also said they needed .. “someone to ride a motorcycle and kill.” He filled the role as brilliantly and focused as might any accomplished actor and convincingly so which is no small achievement upside such a defining superb performance from his co-star whose talent is at the top of the acting scale and here demonstrated.
The dark laden dusk riding and night riding were links of the narrative where he is on the trail of Scarlett Johanssen who has no other name.
She in the beginning of the film arrives as a liquid form turning into an eye emerging or passing through the cinematically Kubrickesque wormhole which creates the narrative for origin and otherworld essence and planet like elements scope out the arrival.
The liquid is transposed on a white background where her new form, a woman’s body as our watery selves, is reformed in the corpse of the culled young woman whose persona she is given to enter into our world.
Alien Plains
Scotland has never been tested thus since Arthur Conan Doyle.
The film fits a Scottish mythology and though the Northern lights do not make an appearance that northernness with storm bent pines and wild breakers on a dominant defiant coastline express fear imagined and real alongside the monochromatic headlights of the motorcycles ever present trail.
Fog appears and snow crystalises as though a metamorphic presence of the other alien world and fine particles enmesh the screen making you realise these are forms of hallucinations without the methamphetamine drug of choice on many urban streets in use as an avoidance tool.
The new forms first excursion though is into a streetscape, the urban living, the communities of people together that she has seen from behind the wheel of a van which is her home for the duration. She has other dwelling places but those are outlying points for episodic interaction of which she has several. The wheels stop in the streets recognisable as Glasgow.
In a walk through a shopping centre the anonymity is intense within the crowd same place, your place and a sense of anyplace is derived. It signals a post modern abstraction we connive in.
The folk are friendly and too hospitable for their own good which she exploits to determine the way we live. She takes on the central mating urge by using her persona to entice, attract single young men and offer them their salvation sexually. This is achieved quite straightforwardly given the aforesaid captive beauty of the Scarlett lady who attracts despite her careworn clothes and unattractive wig. She has reconciled to act in what she assumes is the prolate of the times, the predatory rituals all brought front and central as our primordial selves as she sees from the alien location.
Alien Story
Through the advances of the narrative and the visitor capturing human thoughts the city becomes itself unreal and unsettling which brings into play the Scottish landscape and nature. Is this an admission of her being unprepared for this explorations outcome and realisation, literally of complexities of people?
Some extremely kind and selfless and others despicable psychotic and violent. This is a derangement which Glazer gradually and incrementally builds. At times it is too subtle and hard to make attachments too. There is also no one to empathise with except the whole of mankind as a construct not of our making and endangered by each other’s responses to their seen viewed world. The paring out and down of the elements of narrative are difficult to get right though it can said truthfully the mechanisms of film are deliberately withheld – words – set pieces explainers – special effects point making are eschewed in favour of longer takes, still framing, which allows action to pass through. Effects are used. In morphic scenes but little else.
It becomes absorbing, infuriating, compelling to watch in order to work out what is going on. It is not simple but quietly and intelligently presented.
Who is Who
What you will make of it may not be anywhere near what I have made of it but superlatives and five star ratings are ‘alien overkill’ however it is ‘extremely good and is not like many other film you are likely to see any day soon but I will refrain from comparisons a it stands strongly on its own.

Will the adventure reach a happy ending, will it reach conclusion or will it leave things hanging or will it fold in on itself all things are possible and that is the message I got from it.

This is a cinematic oddity which may or may not become something of a cult film. The performances are brilliant and remarkable with some beautifully realised individual episodes from newcomers each Imbedding a realism of the chosen culture invaded by the explorer. There is more than ordinariness in Scotland’s identity that is an established fact. There is then an exploitation of the identity in this malicious adventure. No escape routes are shown or given, the tightness of presence with which the author, director and actors play is at times literally as drowning in oil. An altered state perfected in visual candour and without parody but exquisite carnal baggage set as the constraint on skin. Within is under the skin and Scarlett Johansson inhabits as a first class actor in this unique journey.

All journeys are unique. This no more or less so.

John Graham

12 March 2014



wallreplica QUBthe process collectsBorn Dublin Brought up in Dundalk and Educated at Queens University and beyond.
Nature and Humanity.
It takes a skilled thoughtful challenged mind to anticipate the future and design responses which define our own ergonomic gravitational sense of place. The removal of artifice and replacing it with ideas derived from the scale of humans and the language of our tensile structures, the human frame, its strengths and weakness all lay out the metrics used by Peter Rice.

The way this was achieved came through collaboration and interpretation of others problems in addressing the mathematics of gravitational space.
In return a dynamic rational overcame those involved. Such was the direct inculcated belief and understanding of the energy latent in ideas Peter Rice obtained a reputation as an Engineer who stretched parameters seeing as he did organic solutions that were timeless and of their time.
Once invented they bore instant recognition and became familiar as only timeless pieces do.

An Engineer asked a gathering to show him how to stand an egg with the pointy end pointing upwards. No one rose to the challenge so the Engineer took the egg and slightly broke the rounder end and placed it on the surface. This of course was an intervention which came of altering the solution. Making do with what is. The evaluation according to Engineers is lost on me given their is a certain loss involved but a human solution not derived from nature.

So where do we begin? Forces will keep the eggs shape. A base of sand will allow no migration of the contents. Whatever is to happen has to be accounted for, planned for so that probably is the lesson.

All familiar with the detail of the Sydney Opera House may be also familiar with the designs origins as Jorn Utzon created the forms by slicing a breakfast orange and arranging the segments as we now view the building.

The audacity of the design. The sunshine genesis of the location. The possibility of the functionality of space. All were defendant on realisation.
Ove Arup set standards which drew people such as Peter Rice and the task of computing the vectors of the shell were taken on by Peter Rice and his team. This advanced in one project new frameworks for structural engineering modeling not only leading the computation methods designed and employed by Peter Rice.

It is true shell structures are now among the least mass intensive structures ever employed but back then the structure was required to be formed in reinforced concrete. Similar spaces could be spanned by shells made of advanced timber engineered shells with insulated layers. The egg is notoriously strong and so is the composition of most suitably arranged shells. Hyperbolic paraboloid shapes not only derive sensual shapes and dramatic curves and combinations of juxtaposed arrangements, they relate un mistakenly to peoples own experience of the nature of shells.
The tortoises shell is made from joined segments fused in little growing programmes of hexagons which abbreviate at a clustered edge skimming the surface as a house made for transportation. A such lightweight shell with the rigidity of armour.
Peter Rice on perpetual pursuit of all things exemplary must have looked at the tortoise shell and understood the significance of how it was efficient and primarily functional. I think the material is the ubiquitous Calcium Carbonate with a special glaze! The colour of the Opera House mimic such natural occurrences of this form. It of course is not pitted as an orange nor matt like an egg but follows the tortoise shell idiom. Accidental or not it is indicative of the Architect Engineer succeeding best when the organic is understood. The replacement of the Gothic and Classic with other solutions realizing material development has advanced 20th and 21st century design.
It currently is in many cases the obverse of where Peter Rice and his contemporaries were at given the over-engineered ridiculous statement buildings and bombastic hideous constructions sen on every continent.
After Niemayer, Alto, Wright, Corbusier, Foster came imitators and the gap left by the loss of Peter Rice at the height of his career was a grave loss in 1992. He had become involved in expression through the arts with, following on from the Menil Collection in Texas which became a galleries contexturalisation of light in a museum, he developed the outdoor per existing Montpellier mountain amphitheater artisanal performance space.
This was a collaboration of diverse minds but it combined to elucidate an ancient form of performance which brought nature in as a player with reflected light and vista creating magical effect when the sun prevailed.
His humanity is apparent in the regard with which he is remembered from his close knit family and long line of colleagues and students with whom he shared in a profoundly giving way the accumulated and soon to be uncovered possibilities. The joining together of ideas and intentions is exemplified in the outcomes seen throughout his work.
I have seen the Paris buildings and know only by reputation and iconic status SOH nevertheless it is part of an architectural education to understand such engineers exist and that they can assist or even change directions of thinking into superlative components of material design forming buildings which harmonies as never imagined before.

The articulation of buildings, their flexure is I think, and no one points yet to this theory, due to the notable Engineering of certain large storage and Mill buildings built in Belfast. The best one for explaining it is the Belfast Exposed Gallery. A photographers gallery in which the spans and columns are so arranged to support heavy load bearing floors over several levels the joints are beautifully formed to articulate the movement of the whole building as when the tidal surge of the nearby Belfast Lough fills the ‘sleech’ soft basin which forms the city centre, it rises freely and with barely noticeable ‘fluidity’ to then settle once again when the water recedes.
Peter Rice must have been aware of this as it was at the forefront of building Engineering in Belfast and the Heavy buildings contrasted with the lightweight engineering forms of steel frames, shell buildings which themselves require articulated joints if only to sustain and transfer wind and thermal movements. The buildings at Queens University only got built from 1878 onwards and themselves were using techniques of construction, built absurdly into the ‘Gothic’ appearance and also where 14th century and 15th century idioms were expressed inside in the trusses, outside on the brickwork envelope with an invisible web and weave of structural assistance in the cavities of its external walls supporting the extreme loads of the Great Halls heavy truss work. All looks at ease with itself and this type of ingenuity around Belfast must have rubbed off on the acutely observant Peter.
What also of the shipbuilding tradition?