When all is equal

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Matt_Smith_V&A_03_16_ 19Ceramics Resident: Matt Smith

October 2015 – end of March 2016

In the ceramics galleries there are a series of ceramics plinths which caught my eye.  Bases often form part of ceramic figure groups, usually as a core part of the object.  To see stand-alone ceramic plinths is less common.

Public sculptures often use plinths to elevate figures of famous people. Doing so can be seen as a way of raising their status. Plinths are also required to support objects that cannot support themselves or stand on their own.

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Plinths can therefore be seen to have conflicting roles: sometimes a tool of the establishment and at other times a prop for the vulnerable. I was interested in this double role and play of hierarchies. I decided to make my own plinths in the studio and use them to elevate objects cast from moulds made from objects in the Museum’s collections alongside objects cast from charity shop purchases.

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Plinths can therefore be seen to have conflicting roles: sometimes a tool of the establishment and at other times a prop for the vulnerable. I was interested in this double role and play of hierarchies.  I decided to make my own plinths in the studio and use them to elevate objects cast from moulds made from objects in the Museum’s collections alongside objects cast from charity shop purchases.

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I was fortunate to be able to take casts of objects in the Barnard and Sons Archive held by the V&A at their Blythe House store. The archive comprises a large number of metal patterns used by the silversmiths Barnard and Sons to create elaborate silverware centrepieces and tableware.

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The new objects I made based on these casts are an exploration of what happens when revered objects from the museum’s collections are brought together with unloved charity shop finds and the differences between high value and low value objects becomes blurred.

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The final works were shown in the ceramics galleries with the original ceramic plinths that inspired the new work and bronzes from the Museum’s collections which I was allowed to borrow from the collections in store.

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www.mattjsmith.com

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