South Hill Park Arts Centre
South East England

Adam Marsh

A throne is only a bench covered in velvet

As I walk into the stalls of the Wild Theatre attached to the grand house of South Hill Park Bracknell, I am disappointed: it looks completely empty. However, this teasing ploy serves to make the discovery of the accumulations of expertly crafted pots all the more thrilling. As I wander about the theatre following an apparently haphazard route (Marsh the magician had planned this all along) I see the carefully piled or boldly scattered pots, the coyly nestled mugs or sumptuous golden vessels stand proud in the gangway. I notice that some dark glazed bottles are almost completely hidden. Can pots be shy I wonder? Marsh blocks walkways with fabulous arrays of co-ordinated plates, bowls, vases and cups – every form you could possibly conceive of, and some many potters would not even attempt to make. But Marsh does, and does it brilliantly. His kegs are perfect in form and more beautifully metallic than the actual – some are iridescent red – super real and desirable.

Slowly wandering in the brightly lit plush-ness, I become aware that, not only are these ceramic delights telling a story in their clusters, they are also making a gentle and charming comment on the various personalities and lives of us all. Marsh’s attention to detail in every collection, from glassy fine porcelain of the ceramic elite to the heavy (but not too heavy) dark coarse-grogged beer bottles of the ceramic earthy; they all suggest Marsh gives them equal importance and celebrates all walks of life.

Adam Marsh’s installation piece A throne is only a bench covered in velvet has ‘WOW’ factor. It is an inspired idea, marvellously executed. No corners have been cut. Each of over 3000 ceramic gems have been lovingly thrown, exquisitely glazed and fired, and placed with an eye for the spectacular.

The installation is a tour-de force. As you make your way around the theatre the place comes alive. Adam Marsh’s ceramics become performers. It seems the inanimate are playing tricks on you as they pop into view, apparently from nowhere. Of course they are all static in their very own, and perfectly chosen, homes amongst the red velvet theatre seats; it is as if they should always have been there. I wonder, is a stay of four days enough?

Philip Lee