Exhibitions

Adrian Sassoon at Parham

A collaboration bringing contemporary collectible design into conversation with a historic, artistic ecosystem.

Online: 26th May – 31st August

In situ: June – 31st August

By Charlotte Abrahams / 25th May 2021
The Long Gallery, Parham House COURTESY: Adrian Sassoon

The Long Gallery, Parham House
COURTESY: Adrian Sassoon

RENOWNED BRITISH GALLERIST Adrian Sassoon is not a fan of “specimens on plinths”; when it comes to showing artists’ work, his curatorial approach tends more towards the immersive. His latest exhibition, ‘Adrian Sassoon at Parham: A House of History’, which opens online on 26th May and in-person in late June, shows just what magic can happen when we encounter a variety of objects in conversation with one another.

Junko Mori, 'Botany Succulent', 2020, in the Great Hall, Parham House COURTESY: Adrian Sassoon

Junko Mori, ‘Botany Succulent’, 2020, in the Great Hall, Parham House
COURTESY: Adrian Sassoon

Dating back to 1577 and meticulously restored during the 1920s and 1930s by its then owners, the Hon. Clive Pearson and his wife Alicia, Parham House in West Sussex ranks among Britain’s finest 16th century houses. Inside, it is filled with the exquisite furniture, paintings and textiles the Pearson’s collected over a period of 40 years.

Garden and exterior of Parham House, West Sussex COURTESY: Adrian Sassoon

Garden and exterior of Parham House, West Sussex
COURTESY: Adrian Sassoon

It is into this rich setting that Sassoon has placed works by some of the contemporary craft world’s most exciting makers. The majority of the pieces are new – joyous proof that, as Sassoon says, “just because the world has been so disrupted, it does not stop wonderful new art from being made.”

Colin Reid, 'Colour Saturation; Open Eye', 2021, in the Great Hall, Parham House COURTESY: Adrian Sassoon

Colin Reid, ‘Colour Saturation; Open Eye’, 2021, in the Great Hall, Parham House
COURTESY: Adrian Sassoon

Particular highlights include glass artist Angela Jarman’s ‘Faceted Star Geode’, a shimmering, jewel-like object made in amber lead crystal with a gilded glass insert; Japanese metal artist Junko Mori’s delicate, mild-steel and silver ‘Botany Succulent’, a piece so full of life it appears to be actually growing, and British ceramicist Kate Malone MBE’s vigorous new crystalline-glazed stoneware sculpture ‘The Singing Ringing Tree’, its mass of sprouting buds and vegetation reflecting the verdant gardens outside. There are exciting emerging names too such as Nico Conti, a Maltese-born, London-based ceramicist who investigates clay through both analogue and digital technologies. His 3D printed porcelain ‘Pleated Vessel, 2021’ is captivating in its subtlety and grace.

Kate Malone, 'Waddesdon Sprigged Big Mother Pumpkin', 2021, in the garden of Parham House COURTESY: Adrian Sassoon

Kate Malone, ‘Waddesdon Sprigged Big Mother Pumpkin’, 2021, in the garden of Parham House
COURTESY: Adrian Sassoon

None of the existing furniture, furnishings or artworks in the house has been moved. Rather Sassoon’s chosen objects find a home on, in and amongst what is already there, the juxtapositions of material, form and scale making both sing. But this intertwining of old and new does more than demonstrate how contemporary art objects can find their home in an unexpected space, it also draws attention to the thread of making that stretches back through the centuries, connecting Elizabethan craftspeople to the artists of today. “The antique and historic collections at Parham remind me very strongly that it is important to have a strong sense of past achievement to realise what makes truly innovative art,” Sassoon explains. He himself deals in 18th century French porcelain as well as contemporary craft. “Historic creativity is the springboard for contemporary creativity,” he adds.

Elizabeth Fritsch, 'Blown Away Vase; Collision of Particles', 2008, in the Great Hall, Parham House COURTESY: Adrian Sassoon

Elizabeth Fritsch, ‘Blown Away Vase; Collision of Particles’, 2008, in the Great Hall, Parham House
COURTESY: Adrian Sassoon

Adrian Sassoon at Parham: A House of History runs online 26th May- 31st August 2021. As well as a specially-created film, directed by Freddie Leyden, that takes us inside the house and features Sassoon speaking about the creative process and the artists he works with, there will also be three themed catalogues, each with a corresponding short film, featuring a unique selection of contemporary works of art for sale. Pandemic-restrictions allowing, visitors will be able to visit the show in person in late June.

Adrian Sassoon at Parham House
COURTESY: Adrian Sassoon / DIRECTOR: Freddie Leyden

Emma Crichton-Miller, Editor-in-Chief of The Design Edit in conversation with Adrian Sassoon and Lady Emma Barnard of Parham House
COURTESY: Adrian Sassoon Gallery

Adrian Sassoon at Parham: A House of History viewing room

Article By

Charlotte Abrahams
Charlotte Abrahams is a writer and curator specialising in design and the applied arts. She trained at Central St Martin’s and since then has written regularly for the national and international press. Her latest book, Love Pattern & Colour (Frances Lincoln) is out now.