Geoffrey Preston – A tradition in plaster
A Symphony of Curves will be showing at the Harley Gallery from 1st November to 24th December. It is a rare chance to see the world of Geoffrey Preston at close-quarters. The exhibition shows recent sculpture and decorative plasterwork, from small stucco flower relief panels to wildly exuberant Rococo ceilings. Design drawings and photographs of some of his principal commissions will be on display including pieces from the new Great Drawing Room ceiling at Great Fulford which was commended in 2013 Georgian Group Awards. See image below.
I caught this splendid show when it was first shown at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in 2012 and the new show is updated with recent work. Preston is the country’s finest stuccoist– that is the art of hand modeling plaster - you need the finest tools and you need to be fast – you have just three hours before it sets. Well, you have just a couple of months to enjoy this breathtaking exhibition and to actually meet the man himself.
Geoffrey Preston is one of the UK’s leading architectural sculptors, specializing in decorative plasterwork and in particular the art of stucco.
He was a founding director of two of the country’s most respected conservation companies, at the helm of many significant projects including the pioneering restoration of the 18th century hand modelled plasterwork at Uppark House. Preston, led the small team of artist-craftsmen who restored the remarkable Rococo hand-modelled ceilings at this house and in the process he reinvented the art of hand-modelled stucco.
Preston now runs his own workshop, where he and his small band of artists create new plaster and stucco masterpieces for some of England's leading architects and decorators. The beautiful new workshop lies just outside Exeter.
A SYMPHONY OF CURVES: Geoffrey Preston – a tradition in Plaster
The Harley Gallery
EXHIBITION WALK AND TALK TOUR
Saturday 1st November, 12.30pm – 1pm
MEET THE ARTIST
Saturday 1st November, 1-3pm
Celebrate the opening of the exhibition and meet Geoffrey Preston.
Before I go on to explain the merit of the new buzzword Florimetric, a word about Suprematism. I went to see the Malevich exhibition at Tate Modern last Sunday and wondered how I would react to the reduction of painting to pure shape and colour. Malevich’s Black Square has no references to representation and is about the supremacy of sensation. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to look at this painting, but it does what Malevich wanted – to make us think.
The Black Square takes us away from the comforting world of appearances. It would be facile to talk about Suprematism in the world of interiors, but taking geometric shapes and a limited palette of colours makes for a minimalistic modern combination. To soften this pure look there is now a new hybrid named Florimetric, where flowers are given structure and symmetry. Think original Welsh blankets or the new Daisy by Ashley Hicks for Alternative Flooring.
Daisy is inspired by wall-decoration in an old temple in Sri Lanka. A new floral design but with the classical formal quality of ancient flower motifs. It is a floral for those who aren’t natural floral lovers, and has the geometry of a tile design with repeated rows of different varieties of Daisies.
Artists and designers alike explore geometric vocabulary, and this simple and powerful pictorial language is one that has endured throughout history and continues to evolve to this day – imbedded in art, advertising, design and in our everyday aesthetic.
Will Fisher met Dutch artists Sinke & van Tongeren just before dashing off on his summer holidays. This creative congregation was summoned by writer Helen Chislett of London Connoisseur. Will then left for Greece, Sinke and van Tongeren returned to Amsterdam but the vision of this exuberant exhibition remained. In the space of a couple of months ‘Darwin’s Menagerie’ evolved and Sinke & van Tongeren’s inaugural exhibition of taxidermic art hosted by leading antiques emporium, Jamb has arrived.
Sinke & van Tongeren is dedicated to showing the beauty and magic of nature through its flamboyant compositions of Fine Taxidermy. The fact that founders, Ferry van Tongeren and Jaap Sinke, place the name of ‘Executive Director’ Charles Darwin, before their own is a tribute to the great naturalist and geologist. Van Tongeren and Sinke have long studied and marvelled at the work of Old Masters such as Jan Weenix, Melchior d’Hondecoeter and Adriaen van Olen. In the 17th century, these great artists set out to portray the wonder of the exotic animals brought back to Europe by explorers. Today, van Tongeren and Sinke have picked up the legacy of these great artists, determining to create taxidermic art in homage to the skill and passion of the Old Masters.
Van Tongeren and Sinke met 20 years ago while both working as advertising creative. Van Tongeren decided on a new career in taxidermic art and studied the techniques under the guidance of two notable Dutch taxidermists and this led to him working as a taxidermist at the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden, one of the oldest and largest taxidermy collections in the world. So passionate was he about this extraordinary change of direction that he persuaded Sinke to also train in taxidermic techniques and join him in this new venture.
They see it as their mission to preserve the beauty of nature it in all its glory and to encourage the viewer to look with new eyes at the natural world that surrounds us. Van Tongeren says ‘ Our Fine Taxidermy is as valid a piece of art as painting, sculpture or contemporary installation. It is our hope and intention that these works will be recognised for the skill, dedication and dramatic effect for which we continually strive”.
Will Fisher is excited to see the juxtaposition between these spectacular compositions and his own magnificent collection of chimneypieces, lighting and furniture. He says, “We are predominantly English country house dealers but there is a decadence in Darwin, Sinke and van Tongeren’s work that feels like a direct continuity between a Baroque, bygone age and the contemporary. There is a big interest in taxidermy right now, but this is different to anything previously seen. Jaap and Ferry’s compositions transcend the considerable skill involved and become art. I am proud that Jamb should be the first to put it in front of a wider audience.”
‘Darwin’s Menagerie’ runs from the 16th to the 30th October at Jamb.
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