‘A Ballroom Banquet’ by Kathy Dalwood continues a series of contemporary interventions at the Holburne Museum which juxtapose the traditional and modern to create unique and surprising interpretations which reference the Holburne’s history, building, location and collection. Spectacular displays using the Museum’s Ballroom Table have to date included work by Bouke de Vries and Junko Mori. Dalwood’s work is a contemporary response to the traditionally sculpted figurative statues and busts of the 18th and 19th centuries where unexpected relationships of theme and scale are an important element of the sculptures.
The large-scale installation features a gathering of members from Dalwood’s celebrated ‘Secret Society’ plaster bust collection, amidst the aftermath of a lavish baroque dinner party. Among the characters at the surreal gathering are Tank Girl, Galileo, Miss Get-set-go, Ms Shakespeare, Miss Chatanooga, Mme Sacre Coeur and Highwayman’s Girl. Each wears a costume reflecting classical and contemporary styles and sources. The overall effect suggests such memorable fictional scenes and locations as Miss Havisham’s house in Great Expectations and the Mad Hatter’s tea party, as well as Venetian carnivals and grand masked balls.
Aside from the characters themselves, the 7 metre-long Ballroom table will groan with bowls of exotic fruit, shell-fish, multi-tiered cakes and decanters of wine, all transformed into bright white plaster. The Ballroom floor will tell its own story; a scene of devastation, strewn with all the detritus of a fine party – kicked-off shoes, spent fireworks and broken crockery and champagne flutes. The overall effect gives a nod to the wild days of the Sydney House Hotel, the Holburne Museum’s first incarnation, and the Georgian pleasure gardens behind the building. The histories of fashion, architecture and design are clear influences on Dalwood’s distinctive plaster busts, which reference vintage Dior, classical busts and contemporary sculpture, Renaissance buildings and the modern architecture of Le Corbusier.
Each bust is modeled by hand and created using two-part moulds, casting directly from real objects such as model buildings and vehicles, fabrics and machine parts and, in the process, lending these often mundane objects an air of sophistication. Inventively adapting the materials, Dalwood creates costumes, accessories, hairstyles and headgear that bring the tradition of the plaster bust into the 21st-century.
Tuesday 25 February, 7.30pm
Kathy Dalwood in conversation with Matthew Winterbottom, Curator of Decorative Art
Tickets £10 / £8 / Free for Contemporaries
Tel 01225 388569
In Partnership with Bath Spa University
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