There is a lot of ceramics in the Soane Museum. There would be: all manner of objects sparked Sir John Soane’s sometimes weird imagination. With unremarkable dinner services rubbing shoulders with Imari vases and rare Chinese tiles, not to mention the 4th-century BC Cawdor Vase, they’re less a collection than an assemblage. More pieces have now joined them.
The incomparable Joanna Bird, ceramics dealer extraordinaire, has curated an exhibition of carefully calculated ‘interventions’ by four artists. All make thoughtful reflections on the museum, taking Soane’s architectural line, his dreams, his colours and even his family relationships as the theme. The ‘journey’ will be continued at Port Eliot in Cornwall, which Soane remodelled, and his country villa, Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing.
High-end pottery has acquired the status of sculpture. I’m not sure what ‘Marking the Line: Ceramics and Architecture’, as the exhibition is called, added to the Soane, but it did make me see it in a new light. Last week’s opening night was lit by lamps and candles. Statues became silhouettes, odd details emerged with startling brightness from the shadows and the spatial drama made the flesh creep.
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