Installation Lust

My sister recently returned from Nottingham, bearing news of the best looking pieces of installed artwork that I have seen since Clare Twomey’s menacing clouds of ceramic butterflies descended upon Brighton Pavilion. (BBC with video here)

Unfortunately I didn’t get to Brighton to see this one, or indeed the stream of art installations and take-overs that Kensington Palace has hosted over a much longer period of time as part of its Enchanted Palace event: here

(Really, I’ve been seeing it on the Tube for about a year now and I’ve most probably missed out on seeing a fashion/crane inspired piece created by a man after my own heart! That’ll teach me to procrastinate) BBC have once again captured it wonderfully in audio accompanied slideshow of photographs of all the displays here – skip to ~4:30 to see the work by William Tempest (below).

 But this isn’t what I meant to talk about! Escaped ceramic bugs are much more pressing for this entry…
Stirring the Swarm – Anna Collette Hunt
Stirring the Swarm is a ceramic installation that tells a curiously dark tale inspired by the collection of Entomology in the Natural History collection at Wollaton Hall, Nottingham. The exhibition lures viewers into this macabre story as they find these enchanted insects, gathered in the Castle after their journey from Wollaton Hall.
A static swarm of 10,000 handmade ceramic insects infest the South Hall stairwell at Nottingham Castle, each one unique and strikingly beautiful. Dry, dingy creatures cling lifelessly to the walls, frozen in the viewer’s sight, alongside more dazzling ‘specimens’ that sparkle and shine with rich glazes and lustres.  Many also have missing limbs or wings to reflect their ancient and delicate condition – or perhaps they mutated during their escape, sprouting extra heads or wings: evolution and magic transforming the swarm into a new lifeform. The rich palette of gold, green, blue, brown and cream pays homage to the flocked wall paper of Wollaton Hall, the pattern of which has even sprouted on some of their wings.
Taken from artist’s installation Tumblr: here
The idea of a minute and massive scale of infestation is wonderful, not to mention the sly aspect of malice that the creator seems to be working into the intention behind the piece. Perhaps its just as well that I’m not driving, because the temptation to steal a straggler in the swarm, might overwhelm me. I wonder if she will break up the crowd after the installation period has passed? I can imagine they would be beautiful objects to own in any number. Admittedly, my knowledge of pottery and ceramics is severely limited to 5 hours playing and developing a single whimsy piece as part of a teacher/skills/classroom exchange I took part in during 6th Form at secondary school, so I might be easily impressed… But the depth of the glazes, colour, individual combinations of shades and finishes must be baffling if not easy to overlook when the stairway is first viewed.
I imagine diving in deeper to the piece would be rather mesmerising, given the time and of course, freedom to move around the location for a closer look! A little too much wishful thinking perhaps… I think it is perhaps the scale of the amassed pieces that makes such an impression on me as I see it through the photographs available.
A shining blanket covering such scale, comprised of such intricate individual pieces?
A twisted and hauntingly beautiful image that echoes their sinister intent.
I only wish that I could afford a trip up there long enough to see the work and justify the expense, because I’m sure my sister’s description of it alone can’t be evocative enough. I may have to settle for what remains of the enchantment of Kensington, if the weather remains free of the white and fluffy stuff. Come to think of it though, I can imagine worse places to find myself stuck for a few hours…
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