On Monday I installed some project work in Knowle House, Kent. One of England’s largest National Trust country houses it sits in a glorious deer park that’s been an utter joy to drive through every time I’ve had to site visit.
Four artists have been involved in a collaboration between Sevenoaks Museum and Knowle House. The museum curator chose four items originally from Knowle House and the chosen artists were asked to respond to one or more of them.
We worked collaboratively, meeting every so often.
The work itself was to be installed in the conservatory – itself a challenge as although beautiful it is visually very cluttered.
My choice of object was a small 18th century pear- shaped sweetmeat mould. I was transfixed by the thought that with every tiny, immaculate mouthful the Sackville family was ingesting lead from the mould.
Three works finally percolated through.
A case of melting white pears with visible signs of decay and being consumed by wasps – a response to the fact that there is no safe threshold for lead in the human body.
A case of pears painted to look like 18th century porcelain work – all with references to Knowle itself. This was a response to the fact that all the museum objects were old, domestic and damaged. It is offered as a fantasy donation to the museum – some grand objects for their collection.
A single gold pear painted in the fashion of an 18th century porcelain factory pattern. Presented as a bon bouche to the other work. A gilded starter, a mouthful; but with beautiful pustular turquoise spots.
I was pleased with it all as I left. The whole project hung together really well and the conservatory had a new collected calm about it, fashioned by our work.
I am back there on Saturday for a ‘Meet the Artists’ day… we will see what it looks like walking back in again ….