Geoffrey Preston is a rare breed. He is not only a selfless individual but the country’s finest stuccoist. Together with the unwavering support and unsung talent of his partner Jenny Lawrence, he continues to be the pioneer of sculpture and decorative plasterwork.
Stucco, or decorative plasterwork is no longer a lost art thanks to Geoffrey Preston and the handful of people he has trained over the past 20 years. But these are pretty much the only people doing it. So a new exhibition that explores the history of decorative plasterwork from the Rococo splendour of the Foundling Hospital Court Room to contemporary designs is well worth a visit.
Lines of Beauty investigates the 400-year-old tradition of decorative plasterwork through the history of the Foundling Museum’s interiors, the restoration of historic houses and the creation of stand-alone artworks by modern master craftsman Geoffrey Preston.
The exhibition showpiece is the Museum’s exuberant Rococo ceiling, which was designed over 250 years ago by Georgian craftsman and entrepreneur William Wilton. This exhibition let’s us focus not just on this extraordinary work of art but gives us the opportunity to view it through the lens of a contemporary practice, and in particular the master craftsman Geoffrey Preston.
Alongside all this rococo splendour, Geoffrey Preston exhibits work in stucco and cast plaster, with drawings, photographs and models. Large-scale works include a rococo ceiling and part of a proscenium arch created for a private cinema featuring a heron, raven and cockatoo. The process of making a ceiling is shown from start to finish with drawings, photographs and casts of recent Great Drawing Room ceiling at Great Fulford in Devon. Photographs of 18th century ceilings, including those at Uppark House and the Foundling Court Room itself, show how the design of rococo plasterwork was guided by proportion and geometry. Different processes and techniques are examined through photographs and drawings alongside a display of the artist’s own tools and materials.
Lines of Beauty - Rococo plasterwork and the art of Geoffrey Preston
is at the Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, Bloomsbury WC1N 1AZ.
4 June – 6 September 2015.