Harvest Festival: to celebrate the arrival of autumn & the traditional moment of giving thanks for the crops the painted chapel at Wimpole Hall in Cambridge has been adorned with traditional corn dollies and harvest produce. The chapel is decorated with remarkable wall paintings by Sir James Thornhill, but this year’s bumper crops of apples and marrows, together with the corn sculptures brings the space alive, whilst marking an old folk art tradition.

Pillar to Post, or The Pocket-Lamp of Architecture by Osbert Lancaster, a humorous take on the history of architectural styles, was first published in 1938. In the introduction Lancaster states that the object of the book was ‘to induce an attitude towards architecture less reverent and of greater awareness, and to encourage the reader, when driving down the by-pass or riding on the tops of buses or just walking down the street, to take another look at the fantastic collection of buildings on either side which hitherto, maybe, he has been accustomed to accept without question on the grounds that “that’s architecture that was”and therefore not a matter on which he could possibly be expected to hold any views.’

These pictures of modern architecture reproduced here are (in order) as follows: Public-House Classic, Art Nouveau, Stockbrokers Tudor, By-Pass Varigated, Pseudish, Modernistic, Twentieth-Century Functional, Marxist Non-Aryan and Third Empire.

In the footsteps of Stanley Spencer in Cookham: This weekend by a happy accident I found myself in the Berkshire village where the painter Stanley Spencer was born, and spent most of his adult life painting extraordinary biblical narratives set within familiar settings. After seeing his paintings in the Stanley Spencer Gallery I walked around doing a spot of compare and contrast: down by the river Thames which was the location for his famous ‘Swan Upping at Cookham’ (amongst others), the churchyard which formed the basis of his extraordinary ‘Resurrection at Cookham’ and the War Memorial which features in the Giottoesque composition of his painting of its unveiling. It’s oddly satisfying to find the house with the distinctive windows that he painted, but really the village albeit quintessentially English and charming is unremarkable - it’s in the paintings where he takes this raw material and creates a sense of magic and let loose his powerful imagination.

CCA Andratx is a very special place: a Kunsthalle, collection gallery, café and artist studio complex in the West of Mallorca. I was fortunate to stay there for a week whilst my friend the artist Clare Woods was doing a residency in one of the studios this summer. It’s an inspiring place to stay and to create work: it even has a perfect pool in the olive grove - what a great example of artistic patronage by Patricia Asbaek and her family to have the foresight to create such a place.

The Lovelace Tomb in Hurley Church in Berkshire is like a piece of fairground folk art rather than a funerary monument. The painted figures recall ship’s mastheads, but have a moving directness as they kneel facing towards the high altar.

Good food in Mallorca

When I saw the wall drawings in Joan Miró’s home/studio I couldn’t avoid thinking of the shocked reaction of parents when they discover that their child has been drawing all over the living room walls. The drawings, executed directly onto the plaster walls of the old house, have a child-like directness and intensity. Of course, they are far more sophisticated than first impressions might suggest, and in several cases relate directly to sculptures or paintings on which Miró was working. It’s like a kind of thinking out loud - only on the walls.

On 15 August it was the Festival of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, known in Spain as the Mare de Déu d’Agost, marking her death and assumption to heaven. In the churches of Mallorca lifelike carved statues of Mary were laid on intricate carved throne-like beds towards the rear of the church. Some of these are carried in processions as part of the festival celebrations. I took these photographs in Sóller, La Seu Cathedral in Palma, and the Church of Santa Clara in Palma.

The Castell de Bellver is a remarkable example of a round castle. This 14th-century royal fortress & prison is surrounded by fragrant pine woods and overlooks the city of Palma in a Mallorca (Bellver means ‘lovely view’ in Catalan). The central courtyard has 21 Catalan Romanesque arches in the lower tier, above which are 42 octagonal columns supporting 21 Gothic arches. It’s incredibly satisfying as a piece of architecture: particularly in the layering of graceful curves, and the views both within and without.

Me getting into the spirit of Josep Lluis Sert’s colourful architecture for Joan Miró’s studio in Palma. Like De Stijl or a Mondrian.

Me getting into the spirit of Josep Lluis Sert’s colourful architecture for Joan Miró’s studio in Palma. Like De Stijl or a Mondrian.

Capgrossos from Mallorca: these masks date back to c.1930 and were used in street processions, a kind of folk art. They are now in the Castell de Bellver in Palma.

The Studio of Joan Miró is one of those rare deeply satisfying building that kind of hits you in the solar plexus. Designed by the Catalan architect Josep Lluís Sert (who had co-designed the celebrated Pavilion for the Spanish Republic at the 1937 Paris World Fair, which featured a mural by Miró) it is all about controlling light to best effect. Arched roof panels like seagulls in flight let in light from above - refracted on the ‘down’ of the opposite arch, while the South-facing front is broken up into recessed cubes with doorways painted in primary colours like a De Stijl abstract. Glazed, angled tiles prevent direct light, but would have allowed the artist to work with fresh sea air. A bank of windows on the other side let in light from the North. Sert had moved to the USA (in self-imposed exile from Franco’s dictatorship) and so designed it by correspondence. He was also to design the Maeght Foundation in the South of France and the Fundación Joan Miró in Barcelona.

The architecture of the Fundació Pilar y Joan Miró in Palma de Mallorca is a real joy. Designed by Rafael Moneo, the galleries form a kind of star shape - mirroring a common form in the artist’s paintings. The use of materials is stunning, yet practical for the bright light of Mallorca: alabaster panels in the windows and angled grills filter the daylight for the artworks and sculptural stone walls divide the spaces like stage sets: a mixture of high dramatic flats and low walls for smaller, intimate works. It’s topped with a kind of infinity pool reflecting the sky and suggesting the sea below.

Reflections on the roof of the Fundació Pilar y Joan Miró in Palma de Mallorca: Every museum must dread the moment when the roof starts to leak and drips fall into the galleries (I’ve sen it everywhere from Tate to the National Gallery). Having an infinity pool on the roof is therefore a brave move- but oh how inspired. The Fundació Pilar y Joan Miró was designed by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo and its galleries have a flat roof pool that not only reflects the skies, but suggests the sea below - it’s a clever move that also blocks the view of nearby apartment blocks and creates a sense of space - and a kind of sculptural magic.

Clare Woods: Work in Progress This week I have been staying with the British artist Clare Woods and her family in Andratx in Mallorca. She is here for a month’s studio residency at CCA Andtratx, a Kunsthalle and studio space set in the edge of the hills above the town. It’s a stunning setting, but Clare is more likely to be inspired the rows of jamon and chorizo hanging in the shops than the picturesque views. It’s an interesting question for an artist: what would you do if given a studio space for a month with none of your usual equipment, past work, or references - literally a blank canvas. Clare has chosen to explore collage, using spray paints, and working on easily transportable canvas (she normally works on aluminium panels). It’s impressive how quickly she has found a structured way of working in this new temporary set-up, but part of that may the liberation from normal concerns. Also the fact that work- life balance can be found in a focused early morning start in the studio, and afternoon excursions to swim in the crystal blue waters of the coves nearby with her family - surely something all artists would aspire to.