Jeremy Williams was born on 19 June 1943 and died on 24 December 2015. During those three-score and eleven years he led a life packed with incident, endeavour and fun.
He was enormously productive. Light and airy sketches and drawings flew from his pen. He painted lovely watercolours, though later, to the dismay of many, he tended to substitute daubs with felt-pen highlighters. Architectural ideas might appear on the backs of envelopes or on large sketch pads, eventually to be transmuted into working drawings by less imaginative if more calculating hands.
The sheer extent of his imagination, learning, travel and friendships is to be found in the fifty-six boxes of his archives now safely deposited here in the Irish Architectural Archive. These contain watercolours, doodles, sketches, worked-out drawings, and notes on buildings in Ireland, Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium, France, India and Egypt.
Notebook contents range from tour itineraries to lists of contacts across Europe, seating arrangements for dinners, and historical notes on buildings. But always, as demonstrated in this exhibition of a small selection of material from the Jeremy Williams Collection (IAA2016/64), there are the sketches of buildings – floor plans of country house, details of Victorian decoration, designs for villas or apartment blocks, for the redevelopment of Summerhill, for the Taoiseach’s proposed residence in the Phoenix Park, for the Millennium competition to replace Nelson’s Pillar, for a new hotel at Powerscourt Co. Wicklow.
This exhibition hopes to remind those who knew Jeremy of his unique personality and eclectic interests, and to introduce those who did not to this remarkable man.
(Adapted from the Introduction to Jeremy Williams: One of a Kind, edited by Dermot Scott, Lilliput Press, Dublin, 2020)
The Irish Architectural Archive is grateful to John Williams for placing the Jeremy Williams Collection in the Archive, to Rose Mary Craig, Dermot Scott and John Ronan for lending additional items to the exhibition, and to the late Dr John Maiben Gilmartin for bequeathing his portrait of Jeremy Williams to the Archive.