In the exhibition, head-height grid frames constructed of pine were configured to hold white panels printed with visual scores and poems. The design was a copy of structures used for the 1971 exhibition ‘konkrete poëzie’ at the Stedelijk in Amsterdam – to date the single most comprehensive exhibition of concrete poetry. Running along the entire length of one wall was a 1970s-style county council pinboard display showing a chronological timeline of Cobbing’s life. It was on this display that I was fascinated to find an architectural plan by H.T. Cadbury-Brown & Partners.
Quickly, unexpectedly, however, the project was cancelled. In recent scrawling handwritten notes, displayed alongside Cadbury-Brown’s plans in the exhibition, Jennifer Pike recalls how the lease had been fore-closed days before it was to be signed. After a poetry reading, Collins invited an audience back to 80 Longacre for a drink. Drinks turned into a noisy party. Residents above called the police. After this the group were denied any further negotiations on the property: ‘END OF BOOOOOKSEVENTURES,’ Pike’s notes conclude.
It is fascinating to imagine the consequences had this unrealised project gone ahead. Beyond a mainstream cultural figure such as Benjamin Britten at Aldeburgh, this document connects Cadbury-Brown & Partners to a key group of British avant-gardist poets and artists, architecture to concrete.