Wednesday, 31 March 2010

An invitation to dinner

As you might guess from the title, 'Place Setting' is essentially a project about dining. The theme is particularly apt, as the only original remaining fragments of Orleans House are the stables and the beautiful 18th century octagonal dining room, which now adjoins the 1960's gallery space. All the rest of the house was pulled down in the 1920's by a balast merchant, who bought the site with an eye on the gravel pits underneath it! Demolition was already under way, when the banqueting room - thankfully situated at the far end of the site from the wrecking balls - was bought in the nick of time by Nellie Ionides, a wealthy neighbour. She used to host her own dinner parties in the banqueting room, with all the food processed from her kitchen in the neighbouring house.

In 'Place Setting', a six metre dining table runs down the length of the gallery. The table is set for a guest list spanning four centuries along the banks of the Thames. Arisocrats and architects are seated alongside cooks and nursemaids. Place settings are cut into the stitched damask table top, with plates worked in quilling to reflect the ceilings above. I found the beautiful images above on the internet whilst planning the pitch for the commission.

As part of the project, I have been running a series of workshops with my friend Keirion. This is one of the kids in the kitchen at Ham House. Dissapointingly the pastry is salt dough, filled with uncooked black-eyed beans!

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