Guest blog post from the writer, editor and curator Matt Price.
This month, opening to coincide with London Design Festival weekend, celebrated British artist and designer Kathy Dalwood will be showing new work alongside fellow designer-maker Alice Mara at the Union Club in Soho. Dalwood is known for her work in plaster and concrete, exploring and developing a variety of casting processes in order to create works that bring together histories of fashion, architecture and design with contemporary culture.
Her ‘Secret Society Banquet’ exhibitions, spectacular set dining tables replete with white plaster objéts associated with fine dining – from candelabra and fluted glasses to lobsters and even high-heeled shoes lost when the opulent merrymaking gets out of hand – straddle the worlds of fine art and high-end fashion, having been presented in different incarnations at venues such as Pitzhanger Manor in West London and the Holburne Museum in Bath as well as in Paul Smith’s flagship London store and at Bergdorf Goodman in New York, the latter landing her in the New York Times Style Magazine. A new version of the banquet will be presented in the homely and elegant interiors of the Union Club as part of this exhibition.
The guests at these secret banquets are a weird and wonderful cast of sculptural busts – an ongoing series in which Dalwood has made increasingly ambitious and complex plaster configurations of heads adorned with hats, scarves, collars, accessories and unexpected architectural structures, vehicles and objects to reference styles, genres and movements across cultural history, from Marie-Antoinette to Alexander McQueen, the ancient Pyramids at Giza to the Eiffel Tower, baroque to modernism.
Dalwood’s busts, therefore, have a natural affinity with the fashion photography of Norman Parkinson (1913-90), around whose photographs this exhibition has been devised. Made especially for the exhibition in response to iconic photographs such as Jerry Hall on a telephone in Jamaica for British Vogue in May 1975, the inimitable Le Groux Soeurs Hat in Vogue, 1952, and Nena von Schlebrügge and the Sphinx in Queen, 1963, Dalwood’s new sculptural busts contain engaging, insightful and playful references not only to the fashion designers’ clothes and the models featured in the photographs, but to the photographs themselves, their staging and styling.
The exhibition has been organised by Cavaliero Finn and The Norman Parkinson Archive.
24 September – 2 October 2016
The Union Club, 50 Greek Street, London W1D 4EQ
Artist’s talk on Saturday 24th at 3-4pm – Free.