Clare Twomey in Gallery L13 this morning...photo by Tom Ryan
This morning, Clare Twomey presented her Nelson-Atkins Musem installation, “Forever” to four members of the press. I was one of the four. We met Clare along with the installation’s curator, Catherine Futter in the entry hall of the Bloch Building with the Beaux Art Nelson-Atkins entrance as a backdrop. A fitting transition of architectural styles that proved symbolic for me on this morning of revelation.
Read about the exhibition here at the Nelson-Atkins website.
You could spend an hour or so reading the background on this installation and take the time to see the cup in gallery P12, part of the Bernap Collection of 1345 pieces, that inspired Clare. Or you could proceed directly to gallery L13 and see the 1345 cups.
The artist and the curator wished for this installation to raise fundamental questions “…about the nature of craftsmanship, the hand of the artist in mass production, responsibility, memory, desirability, and value.” Having read this after experiencing the space and the cups, I have a few more questions and am thinking hard about some answers.
I purposely followed Catherine and Clare at a distance to gallery L13. I paused before entering allowing them and me to prepare. When I entered, there was Clare standing amidst the cups, between the first two of three massive tables with gray tops and cream colored sides. There she stood, smiling as did I. Quiet. Pause. Absorbing the stunning scene of 1345 caudle cups.
She spoke for a while and we asked a few questions. We were allowed to hold a cup and examine the elegant simplicity of the piece. Catherine told us that these cups are destined for people to collect, if they wish, as long as they sign a deed to take care of their cup forever along with a few other stipulations. Clare shared the craftsmanship and pedigree of the cups which come from England. She mentioned that this is no cup one finds at Pottery Barn.
Shortly after her talk, museum members began to arrive to select their cup. This was members day. Members who support this wonderful museum, provided the first true installation participators and they participated with smiles and amazement. They selected their cups and signed their deeds. At one point the deed-signing desk was packed with people waiting patiently to take pen in hand. Exciting.
I caught Clare’s eye and we walked to one another with a grin; grins produced with the realization that this installation has power. We listened to the conversations of the members at the desk and realized that no one at that moment was viewing the installation. For a moment, to me it felt as if I was in a china shop listening to buyers. But these were not buyers but rather lovers of art signing a deed of ownership, an agreement to treasure this gift, this cup. Excitement but not retail therapy. But for a moment the dynamic of ownership overtook the power of the art in the space.
I hope you can experience this installation on a quiet morning alone in winter after the buzz wears off a bit. But you should experience it with a crowd, for it will be then that Clare’s installation fueled with her questions, curated beautifully by Catherine, may provide you with some insightful first-hand answers about cups and about yourself.
This is a very fresh first impression...I'll post some pictures separately...