May 13, 2011

Monica Ali at the Royal Academy May 2011

Author Monica Ali chose 19 Princelet Street as 'London's most important building', as part of the Royal Academy's lecture series in 2011. Speaking to a packed lecture theatre, Monica Ali described 19 Princelet Street's unique architectural, cultural and spiritual significance, and how 'you can feel history there in your fingertips and spine'.

As a beautiful story teller herself, Monica held her audience enthralled as she drew on scientist Lewis Wolpert's work to suggest that we humans are hard wired for story and that 19 Princelet Street is a place of many stories, a special place which enables and facilitates imaginative acts of empathy.

Dr Elizabeth McKellar, Sir Richard MacCormac, Monica Ali, Dr Anne Kershen

Dr Elizabeth McKellar, Sir Richard MacCormac, Monica Ali, Dr Anne Kershen

'You could fall in love inside 19 Princelet Street, principally with the building itself''

Monica AliMonica Ali first visited the Suitcases and Sanctuary exhibition some years ago, and both exhibition and building stayed in her memories. She praised the terrific idea of asking children to make Suitcases and Sanctuary by putting themselves in the place of other earlier incomers, and the 'strong vision' that we have for the museum.

Before her Royal Academy talk, Monica Ali visited us again, and was fascinated to explore parts of the building that are for now closed to visitors. Peering through the tiny panes of the weavers' garrets, Monica could see at the end of the street the 'crystalline offices' of Allen and Overy, towering over our street of Georgian houses.

Monica Ali in Rodinsky's Room