The Museum of London has added to its modern collection after it commissioned works by fifteen London-based contemporary artists and makers, and they’ve gone on display in a new exhibition. It’s a wide-ranging display of objects, all inspired by London, but all very different from classic pottery through to reforming waste plastics into art.
Eleanor Lakelin works with fallen trees, sandblasting and bleaching them until they look almost like stone. This vessel comes from a horse chestnut tree that fell in Dulwich College in 2016. The horse chestnut tree is originally from Greece, and arrived in the UK in 1616, so the tree here could well be just the grandchild of an original arrival.
Indirectly the piece raises the issue of just how many generations does an immigrant have to live in London before they are accepted as part of the city.
Elsewhere, from deep underground, Alison Cooke works with primordial clay taken in this case from the London Bridge station redevelopment to craft site-specific works. You’ll probably notice hints of railway axles here.
The ceramicist, Loraine Rutt was inspired by Booth’s poverty maps to make three porcelain maps of London, showing the overlaps between multi-million pound houses and child poverty.
A vase by James Shaw made from extruded melted waste plastics looks strongly like it’s been inspired by Giuseppe Arcimboldo famous painting of a face made from fruit, Vertumus.
One of the smallest items on display is a pair of earrings by Romilly Sumarez-Smith, based on the Museum’s own Cheapside Hoard exhibition, and next to the earrings is a pendant from the Hoard, seen on display for the first time since 2013.
At the other end of the size scale, most impressive is a wall of tiles illustrated with images covering the entire history of London from prehistory through to last year. Over 600 tiles each with individual drawings that were transferred to the tiles.
The exhibition is the result of a contemporary collecting project with objects acquired under the Art Fund’s New Collecting Awards scheme, which aims to support the next generation of curatorial leaders across the UK. All the objects on show sit next to the historic items that inspired the artists who created them, giving a link between past and present.