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The Secret Society - A Sculptural Banquet

by Kathy Dalwood
Pitzhanger Manor & PM Gallery
Spring 2013

                                     about the venue

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Read the review on Yatzer

by Kiriakos Spirou

London-based artist and designer Kathy Dalwood has arranged a soirée like no other. Her collection of plaster busts, set as a bizarre banquet for a mysterious gathering of characters, is now on display at Pitzhanger Manor / PM Gallery & House in London and it will be open through June 9th, 2013.

Inspired by the lushness and debauchery of Baroque feasts, the exhibition is more like a well-thought art installation: where Dalwood’s busts stand among candelabra and an assembly of everyday items and junk, all covered in plaster, put together like towers of food and luxurious decoration. Through this all-white extravaganza of everyday cheap things like plastic flowers and fruit, beer cans, paper coffee cups, cheap glasses from junk/charity shops and cigarette packets, Kathy Dalwood creates an ironic illusion of opulence, as if the horn of Amalthea is flowing out of Tesco bags. As a result, her installation becomes a humorous comment on both today’s definitions of value, quality and luxury, and how these concepts can be seen as relative and debatable. And part of the installation’s success is of course its dramatic Baroque saturation effect, especially when seen from a distance. . . . . . . . . . . . read on



                                                                                                                     photo Michael Bowles

 Read the review on a-n

By Maria Blyzinsky

The pixie curators of Pitzhanger Manor have done it again.............Visitors can walk through the ground floor historic interiors and be confronted by a series of tables groaning under the weight of an opulent dinner party. The surfaces are laden with bizarre-looking dishes vying for space among even stranger table decorations: platters of lobster and fruits de mer, baskets toppling with exotic fruit, mouth-watering cakes crowned with miniature figurines, vases of dried flowers mixed with kitchen utensils, boxes of petits fours and other tempting amuse-bouches. It can be difficult to tell which are intended for the gastronomic feast and which are meant purely for visual effect. But it doesn’t really matter because the spread is suffused with a ghostlike quality: everything has been created from brilliant white plaster, set against a jet black cloth. Even the plates, cutlery and trimmings are the hue of meringues, whipped cream and icing sugar, as if the chef might be some weird ‘Jack Frost/Heston Blumenthal’ hybrid, with the Snow Queen as guest of honour .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  . read on


 Read the review by
susie bubble    


. . . . . . Enter the Soane Suite and you'll be greeted with a sculptural banquet created by London-based artist and designer Kathy Dalwood. This is her "Secret Society" (trying very very hard to ignore naive Selma Blair's incantation in Cruel Intentions) with a very unusual guest list of ecccentric characters with names like Mme Maigret, Gold Digger, Ms Chattanooga and Aviatrix. The sixty-four busts, almost all of which are female, are part of Dalwood's ongoing series of work, which she started three years ago, when funnily enough, she wandered around Sir John Soane's Museum looking at 19th century busts and was inspired to take this recognisable sculptural format and give them a contemporary shake-up. Their link up with fashion isn't immediately apparent as the intention is that from a distance, they look like they could well be conventional busts depicting the guarded image of important people. . . .read on



                                                                                                                               photo Michael Bowles

                                                                                                                                       photo Michael Bowles
























Behind the scenes in the studio. For more, visit the blog









This spring the Soane Suite is being transformed into a most unusual banquet – the invited guests all members of a secret society but also entirely made of plaster.

This curious group is wearing extraordinary costumes that range from the stylish to the surreal, adorned with outrageous hats and unexpected accessories or unusual collars and cloaks. Their lavish dinner party has everything one could wish for – overflowing bowls of exotic fruit, magnificent multi-tiered cakes, decanters of wine, vases of flowers and candelabra– only as with the guests all is immortalised in bright white plaster.
The Secret Society is the first solo exhibition of acclaimed London-based artist and designer Kathy Dalwood, and is the first time that her celebrated Plaster Bust collection has been shown in its entirety.

Following Sir John Soane's own liking for staging 'Gothic Banquets', Dalwood’s sculptural portrait busts reference sources ranging from Miss Havisham’s house to the Mad Hatter’s tea party, Marie Antoinette’s infamous soirées to classical bacchanalia, masked balls and Venetian carnivals.


The mysterious associations are not stuck in the distant past however and also display the influence of the modernist avant garde and the world of extreme sculptural fashion.

Speaking about the exhibition, Dalwood comments: “Pitzhanger Manor was designed for busts! There are niches, plinths and mantelpieces everywhere. But given that I perceive the busts as a group of strange, detached characters occupying their own world, I thought it would be interesting to stage an event for them, so I’m creating a bizarre banquet. nI hope that visitors will be seduced by the expressive beauty of plaster as a material and that perhaps the busts will steer people’s interest towards figurative sculpture in general, of which there are so many – at times overlooked – diverse and captivating examples in the cities, parks, palaces, cathedrals and museums of the world.”

The Secret Society is curated by PM Gallery & House in association with Matt Price. The installation has been styled in collaboration with Karina Garrick. To celebrate the exhibition, a new plaster bust has been created, inspired by the architecture of Sir John Soane and will be for sale along with other pieces from the collection.


Read about the banquet installation on the blog
See the preparation in the studio
See the Plaster Bust Collection           

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