Michael Eden - Form and Transform exhibition, Waddesdon Manor 2018

Form and Fusion

Form and Fusion

Waddesdon Manor was built in the late 19th century in the French Renaissance style. Its historicist exterior belies its comfort and conveniences, which were remarkably modern for their day. State of the art technology –such as electricity – are behind its deceptively ancient-looking walls.

Similarly, the works of art in its collections create a harmonious whole, yet are drawn from several centuries of craftsmanship and from different countries and collections. This creation of a new and different interior from disparate elements; the distinctive combinations of the internationally-renowned ‘goût Rothschild’ can be viewed as a fusion of styles. This approach continues today in the activities of the Rothschild Foundation which is actively engaged in commissioning contemporary architecture, art and sculpture, which sit in the historic landscape.

Michael Eden has responded to the many layers of Waddesdon with pieces that embody the process of one form transforming into another form or an architectural motif blending with another from a different period.

Spiralis was inspired by my interest in the cultural role that architecture plays in society. Buildings are more than just stone or steel, slate or glass, they have meaning beyond the physical. They make statements, reflect their creator’s personality and polarise opinion.

Like the Manor, Spiralis is a hybridisation of historical architecture, demonstrating that the contemporary can be found in the past.

Apollo Inverto was created to explore a visual illusion and alert the viewer to the act of looking. It is designed to demonstrate that there is often more to an object than is revealed at first glance.

Photo by Mike Fear

Imitation & Pastiche

Imitation & Pastiche

Designers and makers have long delighted in using one material to imitate another, whether to trick the viewer or to demonstrate their skilful craftsmanship. Waddesdon is full of examples: wood painted to look like marble, translucent blue-backed cow horn imitating lapis lazuli, baskets of flowers made out of porcelain and much more.

The same thing happens today, where new making processes are used to emulate traditional practices. Digital technology imitates established making techniques but can go one step further and create astonishing artworks that were previously impossible to make.

Michael Eden’s 3D printed pieces can be coated with patinated copper, as two are here, or made to look like many other materials. The use of this technology can be used to raise questions about the definition of craft and the values that are ascribed to objects and the materials from which they are made.

After Saly II is one of Eden’s pieces created in response to the C18th prints and drawings of highly ornate fantasy vases by Jacques Saly and Louis-Joseph Le Lorrain, some of which are in the Waddesdon collection. It consists of figures derived from a 3D scan of a sculpture of a nymph in the collection of the Russian State Museum and a complex fountain or whirlpool hand drawn on computer software.

Photo by Mike Fear

Flights of Fancy

Flights of Fancy

The variety of artworks collected by the Rothschilds is one of the reasons that a tour of the Manor is so engrossing, there is something for everyone. The objects range from the sublime to the outrageous.

19th-century design indulged in an excess of ornamentation. At Waddesdon, a variety of historic styles are reinterpreted and revived. They co-exist in an eclectic but harmonious interior. The main house shows the influence of the 18th-century Parisian town house but within a neo-Renaissance interior, whereas the Bachelors’ Wing combines Renaissance and Medieval objects in interiors inspired by Spain and North Africa.

Amongst the many treasures of the collection, the architectural and ornamental works on paper collected by Edmond de Rothschild act as a reference library of ornament. Fantastical vases and ewers designed by François-Joseph Saly (1717–1776),Louis-Joseph Le Lorrain (1715–1759) and Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) are made real and contemporary by Michael Eden’s innovative techniques.

Eden explores the idea of the iconic with After Piranesi I– made up of contemporary and historical icons, demonstrating that even though tastes and fashions have changed, society still places its heros and heroines on pedestals. Icons, which incorporates famous art works into its Sèvres form, in a style reminiscent of the late American artist Keith Haring. After Saly I is composed of a cloudburst of miniature versions of four of the most iconic Sèvres vase shapes, all of which are found at Waddesdon.

Photo by Mike Fear

Hidden Worlds

Hidden Worlds

Natural history became a common ‘polite’ activity in the 18thcentury, and amateurs and professionals would collect specimens from the natural kingdom, and study and classify them. The introduction of technology such as microscopes allowed hitherto unknown worlds of pattern to be discovered and disseminated in books and at public lectures.

The fascination with these new natural patterns led to them being used as surface decoration on ceramics. The 18th -century Sèvres vermiculésurface pattern, most often applied in gilding over a ground colour, is one example that can been seen on a number of pieces in the collections at Waddesdon. These patterns were not only beautiful, but visually displayed the latest knowledge.

Michael Eden is able to make these microscopic patterns in large, but also in 3 D. His vases are formed from molecular and geological structures, some of which are taken from contemporary microscopy images and play with the idea of art versus nature.

The ceramics at Waddesdon are stored in the winter in their 19th–century storage boxes, which could also be used to transport them. These boxes envelop the objects they are designed to protect but also allow the owner to show them to others, both to aesthetic advantage and in padded security.

Photo by Mike Fear

The Enlightenment

The Enlightenment

The term Enlightenment is used to describe how all branches of human knowledge flourished in Europe in the 18thcentury, but it can also refer to a state of spiritual existence. The use of light is not only figurative, but literal and all the preceding themes are brought together in an ensemble which assails the senses, in a reimagining of the Manor.

Michael Eden’s works are displayed next to some of the objects that have inspired them, which have emerged from their shrouds. Everything is fully revealed ready for the visitor to enjoy. At this point, the complex ways in which Waddesdon can inspire become tangible.

Each of the pieces explores one or more of the themes described in the previous sections. They are designed to seduce and draw in the viewer, being at first sight familiar, yet on closer inspection alien and exotic.

Photo by Mike Fear

Apollo Inverto 2018

Apollo Inverto 2018

Trompe l’oeil is an artistic device that has been employed since Roman times at least. Examples are to be seen in Pompeii. Translated from the French as ‘deceive the eye’, it is often used to trick the viewer into assuming that a painted 2-dimensional picture is a real 3-dimensional scene.

Apollo Inverto works on the same principle, but is obviously 3-dimensional. The design of the piece stems from my interest in visual perception and the way that we interpret the world around us. Normally we combine the information entering our eyes with our previous experience of similar situations and use the combination of information to make an estimate of what is in front of us. Invariably this works well, otherwise the world would be a very dangerous place.

But when confronted with something out of the ordinary the eye can be tricked into seeing something that does not exist. Apollo Inverto exploits this and in doing so alerts the viewer to the act of looking.

The head is based on one of the marble sculptures in grounds of Waddesdon Manor, which itself is a copy of the Apollo Belvedere, now in the Pio-Clementine Museum at the Vatican in Rome.

A 3D scan was used as the starting point, which was then manipulated in Rhino 3D software, the positive image then ‘morphed’ with a negative mirrored image. The final design was 3D printed and given a surface treatment to closely resemble Carrara marble.

Available from Adrian Sassoon, London

Spiralis 2018

Spiralis 2018

Spiralis was inspired by my interest in the cultural role that architecture plays in society. Buildings are more than just stone or steel, slate or glass, they have meaning beyond the physical. They make statements, reflect their creator’s personality and polarise opinion.

The Spiralis is a hybridisation of historical architecture, demonstrating that the contemporary can be found in the past.

The 2 openings at each end of the spiral are based on Neo-Renaissance architectural details from Waddesdon Manor, a building that was conceived by Ferdinand de Rothschild and became his life’s work.

My practice focuses on the creative use of 3D printing and the transfer of my ceramic skills to new tools that allow me to create ‘impossible’ objects for the first time. Spiralis was created using Rhino 3D Computer Aided Design software (CAD), a process that took many hours of intense work and once satisfied with the form, the CAD files were used to print the piece, slowly, layer by layer. Once printed, it was given a surface treatment to closely resemble Carrara marble.

Available from Adrian Sassoon, London

Spiralis 2018 - detail

Spiralis 2018 - detail

Spiralis was inspired by my interest in the cultural role that architecture plays in society. Buildings are more than just stone or steel, slate or glass, they have meaning beyond the physical. They make statements, reflect their creator’s personality and polarise opinion.

The Spiralis is a hybridisation of historical architecture, demonstrating that the contemporary can be found in the past.

The 2 openings at each end of the spiral are based on Neo-Renaissance architectural details from Waddesdon Manor, a building that was conceived by Ferdinand de Rothschild and became his life’s work.

My practice focuses on the creative use of 3D printing and the transfer of my ceramic skills to new tools that allow me to create ‘impossible’ objects for the first time. Spiralis was created using Rhino 3D Computer Aided Design software (CAD), a process that took many hours of intense work and once satisfied with the form, the CAD files were used to print the piece, slowly, layer by layer. Once printed, it was given a surface treatment to closely resemble Carrara marble.

Available from Adrian Sassoon, London

After Saly II 2018

After Saly II 2018

After Saly II is one of the artworks created in response to the Waddesdon Manor collection. The variety of artworks amassed by Ferdinand de Rothschild is one of the reasons that a tour of the house is so engrossing, there is something for almost everyone. The objects range from the subtle through to the outrageous.

Victorian design is acknowledged as having indulged in an excess of ornamentation. It is known for its interpretation and eclectic revival of historic styles mixed with the introduction of Middle Eastern and Asian influences. This Victorian enthusiasm is evident throughout Waddesdon, seen in objects such as furniture, fittings, and interior decoration.

In addition to the actual artworks there is a fascinating collection of prints and drawings, including some wonderful engravings and drawings of fantastical vases and jugs by Jacques-François-Joseph Saly, a French sculptor who was active in the middle years of the 18th century. They feature animated figures of tritons, lions and cupids, all energetically captured in his prints.

In response to these and some of the artworks from the collection, After Saly II was created using a combination of 21st century technology and traditional craftsmanship.

A 3D scan of a bathing nymph from the Russian State Museum was used as the starting point, combined with a whirling cascade of water painstakingly created in Rhino 3D software. The final design was 3D printed, then copper plated and subsequently given a Verdigris patina.

Private collection, through Adrian Sassoon, London

After Saly II, 2018 - detail

After Saly II, 2018 - detail

After Saly II is one of the artworks created in response to the Waddesdon Manor collection. The variety of artworks amassed by Ferdinand de Rothschild is one of the reasons that a tour of the house is so engrossing, there is something for almost everyone. The objects range from the subtle through to the outrageous.

Victorian design is acknowledged as having indulged in an excess of ornamentation. It is known for its interpretation and eclectic revival of historic styles mixed with the introduction of Middle Eastern and Asian influences. This Victorian enthusiasm is evident throughout Waddesdon, seen in objects such as furniture, fittings, and interior decoration.

In addition to the actual artworks there is a fascinating collection of prints and drawings, including some wonderful engravings and drawings of fantastical vases and jugs by Jacques-François-Joseph Saly, a French sculptor who was active in the middle years of the 18th century. They feature animated figures of tritons, lions and cupids, all energetically captured in his prints.

In response to these and some of the artworks from the collection, After Saly II was created using a combination of 21st century technology and traditional craftsmanship.

A 3D scan of a bathing nymph from the Russian State Museum was used as the starting point, combined with a whirling cascade of water painstakingly created in Rhino 3D software. The final design was 3D printed, then copper plated and subsequently given a Verdigris patina.

Private collection, through Adrian Sassoon, London

After Le Lorrain I, 2018

After Le Lorrain I, 2018

After Le Lorrain I is one of the artworks created in response to the Waddesdon Manor collection. The variety of artworks amassed by Ferdinand de Rothschild is one of the reasons that a tour of the house is so engrossing, there is something for almost everyone. The objects range from the subtle through to the outrageous.

Victorian design is acknowledged as having indulged in an excess of ornamentation. It is known for its interpretation and eclectic revival of historic styles mixed with the introduction of Middle Eastern and Asian influences. This Victorian enthusiasm is evident throughout Waddesdon, seen in objects such as furniture, fittings, and interior decoration.

In addition to the actual artworks there is a fascinating collection of prints and drawings, including some wonderful engravings of fantastical vases and jugs by Louis-Joseph Le Lorrain, a French painter and engraver who was active in the first half of the 18thcentury. They feature animated figures of tritons, lions and cupids, all energetically captured in his prints.

In response to these and some of the artworks from the collection, After Le Lorrain I was created using a combination of 21stcentury technology and traditional craftsmanship.

A 3D scan of courgette leaves from my garden and a scan of a classical dancing figure sculpture were used as the starting points. These were combined with some historic and contemporary musical references, painstakingly created in Rhino 3D software. After many iterations, the final design was 3D printed, then given the rich purple coating.

Icons, 2018

Icons, 2018

Icons is based on a Sèvres potpourri porcelain vase in the Waddesdon Manor collection. I have made quite a liberal interpretation of the vase, opening up and replacing the piercing with a lattice structure. The original decoration, featuring leaves, flowers and a bucolic, romantic scene has been replaced with Keith Haring style silhouettes of iconic works of art, such as the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo.

The soft, delicate pinks and pastel colours have been updated to a loud, luminous orange, bringing the artwork firmly into the 21st century.

This piece was only made possible by the use of new technology, in particular 3D printing, where a drawing is created using 3D software and used to fuse together extremely fine layers of material, in this particular case, nylon. Since earliest times, craft has evolved, with innovation and the development of new tools enabling makers to create objects and artworks that were previously impossible or extremely difficult. This is certainly the case with 3D printing, as it allows me to produce objects that I could not previously create on the potter’s wheel. However, I firmly believe that all tools have their place and 3D printing does not replace them. As artists and makers, we simply have some new tools to choose from and can develop the craft skills required to fully exploit them.

Available through Adrian Sassoon, London

After Piranesi I, 2018

After Piranesi I, 2018

After Piranesi I is one of the artworks created in response to the Waddesdon Manor collection. The variety of artworks amassed by Ferdinand de Rothschild is one of the reasons that a tour of the house is so engrossing, there is something for almost everyone. The objects range from the subtle through to the outrageous.

Victorian design is acknowledged as having indulged in an excess of ornamentation. It is known for its interpretation and eclectic revival of historic styles mixed with the introduction of Middle Eastern and Asian influences. This Victorian enthusiasm is evident throughout Waddesdon, seen in objects such as furniture, fittings, and interior decoration.

In addition to the actual artworks there is a fascinating collection of prints and drawings, including some wonderful engravings and drawings of fantastical vases and jugs by Jacques-François-Joseph Saly, a French sculptor who was active in the middle years of the 18thcentury. They feature animated figures of tritons, lions and cupids, all energetically captured in his prints. Also in the collection are references to Giovanni Battista Piranesi, an C18th Italian artist and sculptor. I first came across Piranesi when creating the Innovo Vase, an interpretation of the Stowe Vase for Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It appears that Piranesi, alongside producing etchings of fictitious and fantastical architectural interiors was also skilful at ‘restoring’ ancient sculptures, often constructed from parts of different artefacts.

So, in the spirit of Piranesi, the vase brings together historical and contemporary references from popular culture.

After Piranesi I was created using a combination of 21stcentury technology and traditional craftsmanship.

3D scans of museum artworks combined with a C20th icons were used as the starting point, painstakingly remodelled in Rhino 3D software. The final design was 3D printed and hand finished.

Available through Adrian Sassoon, London

After Piranesi I, 2018 - detail

After Piranesi I, 2018 - detail

After Piranesi I is one of the artworks created in response to the Waddesdon Manor collection. The variety of artworks amassed by Ferdinand de Rothschild is one of the reasons that a tour of the house is so engrossing, there is something for almost everyone. The objects range from the subtle through to the outrageous.

Victorian design is acknowledged as having indulged in an excess of ornamentation. It is known for its interpretation and eclectic revival of historic styles mixed with the introduction of Middle Eastern and Asian influences. This Victorian enthusiasm is evident throughout Waddesdon, seen in objects such as furniture, fittings, and interior decoration.

In addition to the actual artworks there is a fascinating collection of prints and drawings, including some wonderful engravings and drawings of fantastical vases and jugs by Jacques-François-Joseph Saly, a French sculptor who was active in the middle years of the 18thcentury. They feature animated figures of tritons, lions and cupids, all energetically captured in his prints. Also in the collection are references to Giovanni Battista Piranesi, an C18th Italian artist and sculptor. I first came across Piranesi when creating the Innovo Vase, an interpretation of the Stowe Vase for Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It appears that Piranesi, alongside producing etchings of fictitious and fantastical architectural interiors was also skilful at ‘restoring’ ancient sculptures, often constructed from parts of different artefacts.

So, in the spirit of Piranesi, the vase brings together historical and contemporary references from popular culture.

After Piranesi I was created using a combination of 21stcentury technology and traditional craftsmanship.

3D scans of museum artworks combined with a C20th icons were used as the starting point, painstakingly remodelled in Rhino 3D software. The final design was 3D printed and hand finished.

Available through Adrian Sassoon, London

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