Contemporary Eye: Crossovers
Crossovers, the second in the Contemporary Eye series, presented Artwise with an exciting curatorial challenge. The exhibition hosted a series of interventions in both the eighteenth-century body of the Grade-1 listed Queen Anne Townhouse and its contemporary extension, by international contemporary artists innovatively exploring traditional craft techniques such as ceramics, glass, textiles, wood carving, and taxidermy.
Traditionally neglected in the sidelines, craft techniques continue to undergo the kind of re-evaluation and integration made visual in Crossovers, as they ‘cross over’ into the fine art territory with a new subversive edge. Thanks to Grayson Perry and his 2003 Turner Prize winning controversially decorated coil-pots, the art world appears to have overcome its fear and disdain for the word ‘craft’ once and for all.
Into Pallant House, we invited radical works by artists who re-imagined traditional techniques and notions of craftsmanship in innovative and modern guises; these were playfully inserted into the gallery’s domestic setting, and the result was one of jovial juxtaposition. Susan Hefuna’s carved Arabic screen and Nina Saunders’ amorphous furnishings featuring taxidermied animal heads were placed in the new wing galleries alongside original Chippendale furniture from Pallant House’s most historic rooms.
With similar wit, Barnaby Barford’s macabre ceramic figurines were playfully choreographed in conversation with the gallery’s eighteenth-century Bow Porcelain ones, and Mona Hatoum’s glass hand grenades lay teasingly unexploded amidst a delicate collection of historic Irish glass. The entrance hall was transformed into a cabinet of sorts that both paid homage to traditional displays of hunting trophies and celebrated the resurgence of taxidermy in contemporary art; Polly Morgan’s glass vitrines of vermin asleep under chandeliers, Neil Haman’s tableaux of stuffed animals, and a copulating hare and chicken by Artists Anonymous were exhibited. The white-cube spaces of the new galleries were adorned with limited edition wallpapers by the Chapman brothers and Damien Hirst, tapestries by Grayson Perry and Gary Hume, and ceramics by the likes of Edmund de Waal, Livia Marin, and Jeff Koons.
For Crossovers, we once again drew works from major private collections of contemporary art, including the Zabludowicz Collection, the collection of Vanessa Branson, and the Frank Cohen Collection; all of these collections demonstrate the increasing awareness and interest of contemporary collectors in works constructed in traditional craft techniques.
For more info visit: www.pallant.org.uk