Independent charity The Art Fund
today announces that it has given £80,000 towards a bold, new installation by critically acclaimed potter Edmund de Waal for the central dome of the V&A's new Ceramics Galleries. It will be unveiled when the galleries open on 18 September.
Signs & Wonders is a red lacquer shelf (14 meters in diameter) that runs the circumference of the ceiling dome and will sit 40 meters above the V&As Brompton Road entrance. 450 monochrome ceramics thrown by de Waal will be arranged on the shelf in rhythmical groupings. Each group is inspired by one of the museums major ceramics collections, from 18th century French porcelain to Hispano-Moorish luster and English slipware.
On entering the museum, people will be able to look up and glimpse the arcs of Signs & Wonders; the installation in its entirety can be viewed in the contemporary ceramics room in the new sixth floor galleries.
Edmund de Waal said: "Signs & Wonders is my most ambitious project yet: a conversation between the historic collections and the contemporary. It is a conversation about collecting on the threshold of the V&A."
Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund, said: "During the course of his career, Edmund de Waal has transformed the notion of what ceramics can be, culminating in this magnificent installation. Signs & Wonders encapsulates his innovative, audacious approach as well as the timeless beauty of pottery."
Reino Leifkes, Head of Ceramics at the V&A and lead curator of the Ceramics Galleries, said: "Signs & Wonders is a brilliant and bold piece of work, a perfect crown to complete our beautiful new galleries.
"We have worked very closely with The Art Fund to realize this installation and their generous support has been key to making it happen. Over the years, the charity has helped us acquire a number of important historic pieces, and their support of contemporary art has also allowed us to acquire some large-scale new works that would normally have been beyond our reach."
Since it was founded in 1903, The Art Fund has given over £5 million to the V&A to help it acquire 285 objects. In addition, the V&A has been given 279 gifts and 58 bequests through The Art Fund.
To date, The Art Fund has given 10 works by Edmund de Waal to various museums and galleries across the UK, including a £60,000 grant towards the acquisition of the installation Wunderkammer for mima, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, in 2008.
Edmund de Waal
Edmund de Waal (b. 1964) is one of Britains most accomplished ceramic artists.
Having served an apprenticeship with studio potter Geoffrey Whiting in 1981-3, he went on to study English literature at the University of Cambridge. Following his graduation in 1986, he established pottery workshops in Hereford and then Sheffield, where he took a post-graduate Diploma in Japanese Language in 1991-92. A Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation Scholarship then took him to Tokyo. On his return in 1993, he set up a studio in London.
From his popular and stylish domestic porcelain of the 1990s to more recent, conceptual installations, de Waals work has won critical acclaim beyond the world of craft. He is also a prolific writer and critic; published works include Twentieth Century Ceramics (Thames and Hudson, 2003). De Waal is also Chair of Trustees of the Crafts Study Centre at Farnham and Professor of Ceramics at the University of Westminster.