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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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: A House of History viewing room