Rethinking mounted porcelain as a plinth for your curiosity

 

This work was made in response to the Chinese porcelain vase below. It was made in the the Kanxi period (1662-1722) and is displayed at the V&A in a French metal mount from about 1750, possibly from the courts of Louis XV. 

Its label at the V&A states that “Along with nautilus shell, rock crystal and ivory, porcelain was then seen as an exotic material worthy of gold embellishments.” I wanted to understand what "being worthy of gold embellishments" meant  in baroque times and how that label relates to our ideals and values today.

My research led me from the Merchand-mercier of Paris to Cabinets of Curiosity as precursors to our museums and the rise of science.  I wanted to consider the embellishment not as a decoration of status and ownership.  But as a current framework for seeing. 

In my response, the porcelain piece became a plinth in itself – you can choose your own curiosity to place on it.

In contrast to the stylised metal mount, I built a precarious, earthy terracotta structure.

 

kanxi vase.jpg
V&A.jpg