This Island Sunrise celebrates a selected history of improvised British design, bringing together three remarkable thrones of artisanal construction spanning four centuries. Made respectively by the celebrated designer Tom Dixon (b. 1959), pioneering conceptual artist Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005), and an unknown 17th-century woodturner, each unique object speaks to the storied narratives of British national identity woven through design and craft.
Distinguished by form and concept, each of the works are assembled using humble, rudimentary, or discarded materials and represent creators operating at the very extremities of their capabilities. Separated by centuries, two skeletal thrones delineate a narrative arc. Anchoring the installation, the Turner’s Throne (c. 1640) signals earnest hand-built production; establishing origins in the natural world and symbolic traditions. The throne is a portent of transition, delivered in an era when the regional and vernacular were gradually subsumed by the emergence of industrialised modern society. Revealed through a modern lens, Dixon’s Skeleton Throne (1985) argues towards the closure of the industrial age, finding likeliness in its maker.
Paolozzi’s Sculptor’s Chair (1985-87) offers a paradox to the companion thrones, proposing self-determination and sufficiency through pragmatism and reductive function. Collectively, the assembly of these thrones serves to stimulate an ambiguously interwoven contemplation upon origins, boundaries, authority and identity.
The installation evolves as a metaphysical interpretation of the traditional antiques shop — once a democratic feature of recycled commerce upon every high street, few now remain outside of specialised enclaves, such as St James’s. As an unpredictable cabinet of curiosities, these vanishing environments offer valuable potential for improbable and unexpected encounters, forgotten artefacts whose power to communicate remains latent and undiminished, and enhanced by cross-reference to deliver unusual narratives. The three thrones, together with the selection of found objects and artefacts that complete the installation, have all at some point in their existence been released, discarded or even abandoned. Now curated, if only fleetingly for this exhibition, these objects may together conspire to offer collective perspective on our shared cultural history and identity.
This Island Sunrise, curated by Simon Andrews, Sadie Coles HQ, 8 Bury Street SW1Y
31st August – 24th September 2023 Opening: Thursday 31st August, 6-8pm
On the occasion of London Design Festival, a curator-led tour of the show will take place on Tuesday 19th September, 7pm. To attend please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The gallery will also open with special weekend hours:
Saturday 16th September, 11am-6pm; Sunday 17th September, 11am-5pm
Saturday 23rd September, 11am-6pm; Sunday 24th September, 11am-5pm
Normal gallery opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-6pm
Simon Andrews is an internationally respected expert with over 30 years’ experience in the global market for Design. Previously Senior International Specialist for Christie’s, Andrews has served on the authenticating committees for major international art and design fairs and is the founder of Andrews Art Advisory Ltd.