Fraser Stables: Remembering Architecture 

Matt Page

Fraser Stables, Remembering Architecture, 2013–present. Houses by Philip Johnson (left) and Albert Kahn (right).

Fraser Stables speaks quietly through his series Remembering Architecture. There is a staid documentarian quality to his photographs, but not that of architectural photography. When architectural details—the meeting of nature and architecture, light falling on surfaces—are made the focus, the images speak more to a sensitive process of recording moments; and in many cases these seem to be contingent ones, captured as the result of spending time with the building, in the event of experiencing it with other intentions. The photographs are closer to portraiture and, indeed, it is through an indirect means that they are: the qualification for each building’s place in the series is that it is a home designed by an architect in which the designer later died. 

Fraser Stables, Remembering Architecture, 2013–present. From left, houses by Lina Bo Bardi, Albert Frey, Erno Goldfinger, Paolo Soleri, André Wogenscky and Gio Ponti.

Considering buildings as portraits of their designers touches on a number of illusive cultural fascinations. There is certainly an interest in the objects or buildings that designers make for themselves, but is this simply a case of chasing celebrity and voyeurism? In part, Stables’ series suggests that this might be true. The quiet tones of the photographs are amplified at certain points by the recognisability of the building and the ease with which its author is brought to mind. The titling of the works, which give the names of the designers, plays an important role in this, elevating the more anonymous images—a nondescript room, or a seemingly unremarkable wall—to a work of Architecture by association. 

The photographer Frederick Sommer wrote that ‘life itself is not the reality. We are the ones who put life into stones and pebbles.’ It is our cultural reality that lifts these buildings, personifying them and enabling them to act as portraits or substitutes for their creators. But, what Stables’ series reveals is that the cultural aura preserved within the buildings after their creators’ death is one that is transmitted by a remembering architecture. 

Remembering Architecture at Shatwell Farm is curated by Kendra Matchett and presents ten images from the project. A list of works is available on request from See more photographs from the series:

Fraser Stables, Remembering Architecture, 2013–present. The Pleasures of Planting, photographed Eliel Saarinen’s library.