Image: Timothy Horn, Gorgonia 15, nickel-plated bronze and mirrored blown glass, USA, 2018
The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney holds many objects that instil a sense of wonder. Made using a wide range of materials and techniques, they seduce us with their otherworldly beauty, stimulate our imagination and shed light on how we perceive ourselves and the world.
Fantastical Worlds, a Powerhouse travelling exhibition,has been developed around major works from four artists and designers: Timothy Horn, Kate Rohde, Alexander McQueen and Timorous Beasties.
“I am delighted to be working with Powerhouse which holds Australia’s preeminent decorative arts collection, to bring Fantastical Worlds exclusively to Adelaide,” said Robert Reason, Museum Director of The David Roche Foundation.
“I’ve admired Eva Czernis-Ryl’s curatorial approach for many years and the exhibition’s theme resonates beautifully with David Roche’s own creation “Fermoy House” which magically transports you into a bygone era of European glamour and spectacle. Fantastical Worlds illustrates the transformative power of design across the centuries, it reawakens one’s desire for pattern and colour, and causes us to contemplate the seemingly bizarre.”
Some ninety works of art make up this new and larger iteration of the Fantastical Worlds exhibition. Powerhouse ceramics, jewellery, silver, furniture, textiles, and fashion are joined by European historical decorative arts and paintings from The David Roche Collection in a wondrous offering of dazzling form, ornament and colour.
Australian-American artist, Timothy Horn, is admired for his over-scaled wall sculptures such as Gorgonia 15, 2018, named after the sea-fan coral. Equally inspired by a French baroque earring pattern featuring exquisite pearls, Horn considers how nature has informed and materially shaped jewellery while drawing attention to the plight faced by coral from the impact of climate change.
Internationally acclaimed British fashion designer, Alexander McQueen, is represented with an Evening dress, 2010, from one of only 16 designs from the designer’s final runway collection. Influenced by medieval arts and religion, this dress also alludes to the French Empire through its lavish use of gilt ornament.
The design duo Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons, behind the successful Scottish brand Timorous Beasties, developed the wallpaper Bloody Empire in 2013 to challenge the traditional meaning of the Napoleonic bee and laurel wreath emblems. Symbols of Honour and Victory, they are spattered in bloody-coloured drips to acknowledge the horrors of the Napoleonic wars.
Australian artist and designer Kate Rohde is well-known for her exuberant objects and sensory environments. Fantastical Worlds brings together her large polyurethane Deer Vase within an immersive installation of her Animal wallpaper, both designed in 2016. Extravagant and glowing in colour, Rohde questions our understanding of value, preciousness, and good taste.
Featured in the tableaus alongside the four major artists and designers are ceramics from Meissen, Sevres, Wedgwood and other leading manufacturers, antique European lace, Victorian papier-mache furniture, a superb English harp, and 18th-century textiles, glass and jewellery.
Also displayed is contemporary millinery by London designer Philip Treacy and jewellery by Robert Baines, Helen Britton, Peter Chang, Liv Blavarp, Bin Dixon-Smith, Jennifer Trask and Philip Sajet.
Recent Powerhouse acquisitions exhibited in Fantastical Worlds include a spectacular ceramic artwork from Korean sculptor Yeesookyung, technicolour couture by Powerhouse Creative Industries Resident Jordan Gogos, alongside studio glass by South Australian, Tom Moore.
Fantastical Worlds – A travelling exhibition developed by Powerhouse will show from 13 August – 24 December 2022
The David Roche Foundation House Museum – 241 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 10AM-4PM
Exhibition Entry: $15 adult. $12 concession. Children under 12 free. All tickets can be purchased on the door. For more information, visit the website.