The Exhibition Beautiful

Aesthetes were very aware of the importance of colour and pattern to the creation of what they called ‘The House Beautiful’. They preferred subtle tertiary hues, such as olive green and terracotta, and used motifs such as the peacock, lily and sunflower throughout their designs.

The Cult of Beauty exhibition designers were therefore faced with the challenge of creating a suitable environment in which the Aesthetic artworks could be displayed, a space which would complement but not overwhelm the objects. Right from their early concept, the designers at the Dutch firm Opera were aware of what was needed. Shades of green and peacock blue will be used for the walls of the exhibition space overlaid with shimmering projections of peacock feather and lily patterns.

These photos, taken last week, show the designers and contractors testing out the peacock and lily patterns. In the darker space of the gallery, their glowing colours will have even more impact.

One of the main features of the exhibition design will be a series of ‘set-pieces’, rooms within rooms which will evoke the private interiors and public exhibition spaces of the Aesthetic movement. One of these set-pieces will evoke the atmosphere of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s bedroom at Tudor House in Chelsea and the idea is that the viewer will be able to glimpse into the dimly lit space of the bedroom.

This is a mock-up of one of the viewing apertures, we needed to test what the viewer would be able to see within the room.

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