Osborne House, Isle of Wight
It may have been October but it was a particularly fine sunny and warm autumn day on the Isle of Wight. I am always impressed by great architecture and quality craftsmanship – and this building has it on a grand scale. I tend to set aside the vulgarity of extreme and exploitative wealth on trips like these to enjoy the finer side of what that wealth was able to achieve.
I can only assume that Queen Victoria and her family basked in the beauty and quality of the building, its artefacts and its grounds – with a genuine sense of appreciation. From my point of view in 2022 it seems that appreciation of and demand for quality – architecture, art, cutlery, glassware, interior decoration, furniture and so forth – is sadly uncommon. Hence the crafts-people who are able to make such things of lasting beauty and function are few and far between or possibly even non-existent. Quality and value are sacrificed at the alter of ‘cheap’, which on the face of it seems understandable given the privations we face in the moment. I am not convinced however – more on that in a future post perhaps.
Queen Victoria’s favourite home demonstrates one extreme of an appreciation of quality, based of course on extreme wealth the likes of which most of us will never know. An ostentatious display of wealth it may be, but at least a number of highly skilled crafts-people were employed in its creation – and presumably upkeep. And, of course, from a sustainability point of view the furniture and many of the other artefacts could still be in use today, over a century after they were created. They may not all be to my taste but that is missing the point. This home was built to last out of natural materials. If only we could do that on a grand scale for everyone to benefit from today.