We are delighted to be returning to Somerset House for the 2022 edition of Collect.
25-27 February 2022 (previews 23-24 February)
Four artists make work in response to the iconic Somerset House. Originally built as a glamorous, palatial building for Edward Seymour the Duke of Somerset in 1547, Somerset House has had many occupants; from exiled Queens and parliament offices to art galleries.
The Queens of Somerset House by Alice Kettle
From the mid 16th Century to the beginning of the 18th Century Somerst House housed the often foreign born wives of various British Kings, seen below in order:
The Queens included Elizabeth I (reign 1558 – 1603) daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, who establishment the English Protestant church and is sometimes referred to as the Virgin Queen.
Anne of Denmark (1574-1619). Following James I’s accession to the English throne in 1603, the next Royal resident was his wife, Anne of Denmark. She lived briefly in Greenwich Palace before moving to Somerset House. Renamed Denmark House in her honour, she commissioned Inigo Jones and others to undertake a huge number of additions and improvements, including terracing of the garden and the introduction of an orangery. This resonated with Kettle whose recent work has been preoccupied by a newly planted garden that she watched grow over many months of working from home in 2020.
Henrietta Maria of France (1609-1669) wife of Charles I, who although modest externally, opened the most elaborate Roman Catholic chapel in a particularly grand ceremony in 1636.
Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705) wife of Charles II, who commissioned a refurbishment by Christopher Wren and opened the River Terrace to the public, then painted by Canaletto twice in c1750.
The Somerset Series by Cecilia Charlton
Cecilia focused on the material qualities found at Somerset House --- the River Thames, sandstone and architecture, and celestial bodies. As generations of people have come and gone, the water of the Thames, the stone of the building and the sun/moon have remained constant.
Eddy, river and eddy, staircase focus on the idea of eddies, or a circular movement of water causing a small whirlpool. This is an attribute along the edges of rivers. The Nelson & Stamp Staircases (historical elements of Somerset House) strike Charlton as eddies that we create as people.
The rise and fall pair of works is creating a correlation between the arches you pass under as you enter the Somerset House courtyard and the daily rise and fall of the tidal Thames. How we are affected by these rhythms when we visit Somerset House. While one is comprised of liquid and the other a solid, one is a natural formation and the other human-made, they both arrive at a balance, a sense of repetition.
Still Life II by Claire Curneen
Claire Curneen is one of Ireland and Britain’s most esteemed sculptural ceramicists. Her works are in major public collections in Britain and abroad. She is known for her affecting standing figures, pinched by hand in white porcelain, sometimes with a wild array of blue and white or gold glazing.
For Collect, Claire makes a new piece that references the fragility of life, a figurative sculpture which explores the human body in a miraculous state of change. In Still Life II, the figure erupts with a covering of flowers, which burst into life and overwhelm the figure beneath.
The Thames Series by Chris Keenan
Chris Keenan is an internationally recognised ceramicist specialising in the exclusive use of Limoges porcelain having trained as an apprentice under Edmund de Waal. For Collect, Keenan has created ‘Thames’ - a series of porcelain pots in celadon and tenmoku underglaze that delicately carry the course of the familiar river, plotting its points, twists and turns, ebbs and flows from start to finish. The result is an extremely delicate representation of a body of water that has played such a vital role and reference point in the history of London, as well as offering up its banks as a home to many notable historical landmarks including of course, the iconic Somerset House.
The Office Series by Carina Ciscato
Carina Ciscato is a Brazilian potter from Sao Paulo, who has studied ceramics in Europe, USA and South America. She has lived and worked in London since 1999 and has works within public collections at the Victoria & Albert museum, London, The Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth and The Pallant House Gallery in Chichester.
For Collect, Ciscato has created ‘The Office Series’ a collection of porcelain pieces inspired by the work of William Chambers whose task it was to house the numerous offices within the original footprint of the old palace designed by Inigo Jones. Chambers was influenced by Palladian architecture which follows the principle of Vitruvius, a classical Roman architecture based on mathematical proportions. Ciscato has taken the perfect cube dimensions originally used by Inigo Jones and transposed them into a perfect cylinder. From there she has created 14 individual cylinders to represent the original 14 offices in situ. Each individual cylinder has been worked to create a unique, symmetrical shape and form whilst also exploring the relationship of scale and hierarchy of the original office spaces at Somerset House.