Material Worlds

At the weekend I visited the new Material Worlds wing at Tate Modern.


The work on show features artists who utilise all kinds of materials, often in larger scale installations. These included found objects, natural materials, textiles stitched in secret locations and even endless ropes of human hair.


Sheela Gowda,  Behold  2009

Sheela Gowda, Behold 2009

Magdalena Abakanowicz,  Embyology   1978–80

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Embyology 1978–80


I was most excited to see work by one of my favourite artists, Louise Nevelson, in this new exhibit!


Louise Nevelson   " An American Tribute to the British People" 1960–4 Painted wood, 3110 x 4424 x 920 mm  

Louise Nevelson "An American Tribute to the British People" 1960–4 Painted wood, 3110 x 4424 x 920 mm 


This piece was gifted by Nevelson in 1965, titled "An American Tribute to the British People", Nevelson's her dealer said that the artist felt that it was appropriate for our monarchial country:

"Its cathedral-like aspect, which seems to present the viewer with an altar at which to kneel, perhaps to receive some royal blessing, and its gilded splendor … were considered peculiarly appropriate.’

Originally born in Czarist Russia, Nevelson lived most of her life in New York, and was heavily influenced by her surroundings. This glorious gold sculpture also reminds me of the iconic cities luxurious sky scrapers.

Art Deco plaque of the Empire State Building, New York.

Art Deco plaque of the Empire State Building, New York.

The display caption tells us that Nevelson worked on this assemblage over a number of years, continually recomposing the found objects within it. Close-up it reminds me of the stacks of old paintings in gilt frames in auctions and junk shops. The golden coating they share emphasises the sense of a treasured item from another time. Covered and gathered they display an inherent value despite being cast away when no longer valued individually.


I first found Nevelson's work when I was at school and instantly captivated by her impressive structures. 


Growing up in a home where nothing was thrown away, I would scavenge interesting bits of wood from piles of timber and broken furniture in my dad's workshop and in Nevelson's sculptures I could identify the balustrades and chair legs amidst the hand sculpted pieces. 

The way she used a single colour to envelope her carefully assembled finds into these impressive structures had a huge impact on me. Nevelson liked black paint because it conjured "totality, peace and greatness." 


Louise Nevelson  Black Wall  1959. Painted wood 2642x2165x648mm

Louise Nevelson Black Wall 1959. Painted wood 2642x2165x648mm

There is such sensitivity in her compositions.







As the New York was redeveloped in the 1950's Nevelson faced eviction from her home and studio. The partially demolished buildings left detritus left from everyday lives, and she found her materials in the debris.

Some of her arrangements like Black Wall,  remind me of the different people living in apartments.

Harking back to the crowded cities like New York I can imagine these wooden boxes as a neighbourhood of personalities housed in different rooms. 

A community is made up of individuals. Living next to each other, but separated by these divides they are shown that they are all one.

If you are one of those inside it you can only see yourself and the four walls around you. Only we can see they are all unified by being able to look at the whole thing from a wider perspective.




The new Material Worlds wing is free & on now at Tate Modern.

Metal Shadows of Rock

You may have seen from my Facebook status that I am lucky enough to be blogging from the British Museum today! 

This is such a wonderfully rich and inspiring atmosphere, but with so many amazing objects it can be overwhelming. So today I set myself a task to find and learn about just one single object in depth to share with you.

Squeak! Carved netsuke decoration at The British Museum.

Squeak! Carved netsuke decoration at The British Museum.


Finding myself in the Chinese gallery, my attention was immediately drawn to a table of objects you could handle along with a friendly guide to explain their provenance. Amongst them a beautiful little netsuke mouse was curled into a shy ball and an ancient jade pendant was worn smooth in a shape of a fish, still perfect after thousands of years. But these were not the objects for my mission for today. I was surrounded by so many cabinets of intricate, exquisite treasures it took the sight of something completely different to made me stop in my tracks. It was a large shiny silver object, appearing amidst the antiquities as if it had fallen straight from another world and into the museum. But there was no visible hole in the roof or debris where this alien object had crash landed. And here it was this piece of sci-fi, presented carefully on a traditionally carved wooden plinth. This was a sculpture by the artist Zhan Wang.

Artificial Rock, number 82 by Zhan Wang. Polished stainless steel

Artificial Rock, number 82 by Zhan Wang. Polished stainless steel


"In the past, collectors displayed craggy rocks on their desks as objects of aesthetic appreciation. The rocks also allude to the mystic of mountains that were thought to be dwellings for men of pure thought."

Another steel sculpture by Zhan Wang - the artist also calls them "floating stones" .

Another steel sculpture by Zhan Wang - the artist also calls them "floating stones" .


Chinese scholars collected and revered unique rocks with beautiful shapes created through natural erosion. By displaying them in their working surroundings for their aesthetic value they also wished to be reminded of the mysticism of the mountains where men of "pure thought" were supposed to dwell. Their sculptural forms displaying positive and negative space were so admired that artisans tried to reproduce copies of these rocks in various materials, including jade, glass, and ceramic.

Zhan Wang forms his sculptures by moulding sheets of stainless steel around real rock formations. 

The artist says; "The material’s glittering surface, ostentatious glamour, and illusory appearance make it an ideal medium to convey new dreams.''


Zhan has also created his own personal universe by recording the sound made by exploding a giant boulder. Read more here

Zhan Wang's work often uses the use of simplistic object that serve a purpose of telling a complex idea. By using the industrial material stainless steel Zhan perfectly captures the organic shape of the original scholars rocks he forms his pieces around but with it's eerily perfect finish, too shiny for nature it's purpose is still that of internal as well as external reflection.



Summer Celebration Ring

Let's Celebrate!


Confetti Cake! Recipe can be found on Best Friends For Frosting.

My dear friend Natalie recently asked me to make her a ring for some summer parties she was going to. The dresses she had bought for these occasions were mostly a black background with splashes of gorgeous bright florals, perfect for dancing outside on balmy summer evenings, sipping champagne cocktails under colourful paper lanterns...

                                                                         Photo by Tanja Lippert Photography via   Bridal Guide

                                                                         Photo by Tanja Lippert Photography via Bridal Guide

These studio fragments selected for their corresponding colours look just like the bits of rock left at the bottom of a sweetie jar! 

These studio fragments selected for their corresponding colours look just like the bits of rock left at the bottom of a sweetie jar! 

To stand against the black Natalie wanted something in a happy, sunny, summery yellow, and we added flecks of colour in hand picked shades that would also highlight the floral details in the fabric.

confetti hand.png

Scattering confetti in celebration!

The finished ring, the coloured and metallic fragments appear like scattered confetti!

confetti sky.jpg
yellow contemporary jewellery resin bright colour hewn ring jade mellor art piece.JPG

If you would like more information on having your own special ring made, get in touch! I'll be happy to answer your questions!  :)

You can email me at

Designpanoptikum - Surrealist Museum For Industrial Objects

The truth of objects: is it weirder than science fiction?

Designpanoptikum - surreales Museum für industrielle Objekte glass bubble head.JPG

 Russian photographer Vlad Korneev's sculptures provide an eerie environment throughout the 10 rooms of his Designaoptikum allowing us two options: The first is as an art gallery casually soaking up the visual ensembles, the second is to use your brain by thinking and learning about the collection of objects housed within.

Some insight curiosity, some are unsettling but all have at least once provided some function. As intimidating as some of these look, there are no weapons in the museum, it is up to our own imaginations how we perceive them, and the structures Vlad has created make them unfamiliar, providing them with a new identity. He describes it as similar to Frankenstein's laboratory. To give you an idea, imagine of what kind of companions you might construct in your solitary survival of an apocalyptic event trapped inside the basement of an old department store.  

Designpanoptikum - surreales Museum für industrielle Objekte creation .JPG

Many of the scariest looking devices were actually designed and built to help people, from learning how to resuscitate an accident victim to actually having a machine like an iron lung to breath for you for your entire life. As Vlad had said there are no objects intended to cause pain or destruction in his museum, but the huge metal box he had as an example of the treatment for polio was made after the First World War when Germany had nothing other than weapons so an iron lung was made from submarine parts.

Designpanoptikum - surreales Museum für industrielle Objekte head in dish.JPG

During this visit to Berlin I also found myself inside the Museum of Medical History. This is not for the faint-hearted or those with a weak stomach (there were jars containing both of these) and I found myself in need of a stiff drink and some fresh air from my encounter here. There were no gimmicks or sensational presentations, just human specimens, historical facts and the real-life stories of individuals thus having a deeper effect than any Oscar nominated weepie or late night teen gore-fest. And the largest display of gallstones you will ever see.

Although unable to take photos in the Medical Museum I found the text from the introduction significant for both collections so I have included it here with  my images from the Designpanoptokum

Designpanoptikum - surreales Museum für industrielle Objekte optical masks.JPG

"Objects generate effects. They may be just standing in a room, be obstacles in the way or displayed in a showcase. Their sheer presence, their explicit 'thingness" evokes feelings in the viewer. If we want to learn more about the objects, we usually need additional information about their inventors, producers, users, applied materials, age or distribution. The stories deriving from them may be manifold.  Frequently, however these stories remain undetected or undiscovered."


Designpanoptikum - surreales Museum für industrielle Objekte drill.JPG

"Sometimes the objects fall into oblivion, lying in the dark corners of a museum's depot. The objects do not grant the curators a consultation hour. Nevertheless, we could interact with them further. They are sharp, colourful, fragile, pretty to look at, common, unique, useful, used, or unwieldy. "


"For a long time, only the respective museum curators were interested in these stories. To follow their own research and interests they developed an individual 'thing' expertise. Other people, however, would be able to tell quite different stories. Partly because of this, more and more researchers beyond the museum world have  turned to historical objects in recent times. They ask: what is our relationship with these things? What meaning do they have in our culture?" 



Here's the Designpanoptikum  Museum if you want to see it all for yourself! Torstraße 201, 10115 Berlin, Germany

Designpanoptikum - surreales Museum für industrielle Objekte Berlin outside.JPG