One of London’s most richly decorated interiors is currently open to the public, as Two Temple Place hosts one of its occasional free exhibitions.
This latest exhibition looks at the history of decorative glass, from early church stained glass windows to modern-day contemporary, and room after room of the building is filled with art to admire.
Opening with a wire cage containing glass hearts that glow and pulse as if alive, the first room mainly deals with matters of the soul rather than the heart – the classic stained glass window from churches, of which several examples have been nicely backlit for display.
What looks like wedgewood-style pottery turns out to be Sourbridge glassware, and naturally, they can’t miss out on the Crystal Palace as an example of Victorian glasswork at its biggest.
A selection of glass ships in glass bottles is exquisite to look at, although from a bit of a distance as there’s a rope preventing you from getting a decent look at them. Elswewhere, if you don’t read the label you might wonder why some ribbons are included in the display – yes, they’re made from glass. Something later in the exhibition that looks like a fabric bag also turns out to be made from glass — the brittle material being able to create the illusion of soft pliability.
There are some examples of uranium glass here, but don’t worry, it’s not actually radioactive, otherwise sitting on the chair would be a quick route to not having any babies in the future.
The fire extinguisher made from glass reminded me of Victorian glass fire grenades, while the headline collection of glass vases has the air of wasps and bees about it.
There’s a fascinating and uplifting story about pubs in West Bromwich that have been taken over and restored by local Asian landlords, sometimes commissioning modern stained glass panels to replace old ones that were lost.
As an exhibition, it’s both a chance to see, and learn about a lot of glassware, but also to see inside the remarkable Two Temple Place.
Two Temple Place is a couple of minutes walk from Temple tube station.
Did I mention the interior?