Prince Regent's Lost Pagodas sparkle at Royal Pavilion Brighton

By Amelia Charman | 12 November 2012
A photo of a woman standing in front of a grand pavilion holding a tiny model of it
Geraldine Pilgrim takes a look at her creations and inspiration© Jim Holden
Exhibition Review: The Lost Pagodas, Royal Pavilion, Brighton, until April 2 2013

The Lost Pagodas is the first creation in the Pavilion Contemporary series, an annual commission for a contemporary artist to produce works designed to spark the imagination of visitors to the Royal Pavilion.

A photo of a tall elegant intricately detailed pagoda inside a glittering pavilion building
Chaser Pagoda in the Music Room© Jim Holden
Created by renowned installation artist Geraldine Pilgrim, the pagodas recall six porcelain pagodas commissioned by the Prince Regent to dazzle and amaze his guests in the Pavilion’s Music Room.

Approximately three metres high, the originals were considered incredibly valuable and luxurious - and they were. Made in China they became part of the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace when Queen Victoria sold the Pavilion in 1847.
Pilgrim's first pagoda to repsond to this ornate legacy, Sparkle, was inspired by the carefully-placed mirrors that reflect images across the Long Gallery; one of many decorative tricks characterising the Pavilion. Multiplied in the mirrors, its crystals create a suitably majestic feeling.

Another, called Reflection, can be found in The Great Kitchen, where it represents George IV's large collection of copperware pans. Many of them were part of the kitchen's batterie de cuisine, formerly used in the kitchen of the Duke of Wellington's London residence.

A photo of a luminous blue sculpted pagoda inside a decadent royal pavilion building
Translucence in the North Gallery© Jim Holden
The bright reds, blues and yellows of a third pagoda, Chaser, can be seen amidst the decoration of the music room.

Pilgrim was meticulous in the sourcing of the materials, ordering the wooden horses from Germany and hand-painting them in the UK.

Brighton Pier, whose merry-go-round they resemble, has clearly influenced the design and a jovial song plays every ten minutes, catching you off guard as you explore the Pavilion's many rooms.

Anyone who has experienced this remarkable interiror will know it's impossible to ignore the history embedded here, and Pilgrim has been fastidious in her designs, absorbing the interior decor of the building into her installations. Sparkle is lined with bamboo, which can be seen throughout the Pavilion's interiror.

Yet with Translucence, a beautiful creation placed as a centre-piece in the breakfast room, Pilgrim has left the best to last. Lit by a shimmering blue light, its is the prettiest of the exhibition and befits the opulence of this Georgian pleasure Palace by the sea.

  • Open 10am-5.15pm (2.30pm December 24, closed December 25 and 26). Tickets £5.10-£10 (family ticket £15.70-£25.70, concessions for Brighton and Hove residents and Brighton and Sussex University students). Follow the Pavilion on Twitter @BrightonMuseums.

More pictures:

An image of a colourful paint illustration of a decadent 18th century royal hall
Long Gallery, from Nash's Views© Royal Pavilion and Museum
A photo of the inside of a decadent royal hall with pink walls and wooden furniture
The Long Gallery as it is today for the setting of the Chandelier pagoda© Royal Pavilion and Museum
A photo of a sculpted glass pagoda type structure inside an ornate ancient kitchen
Reflection in the Great Kitchen© Jim Holden
A photo of a chandelier with candles jutting out of it inside an elegant pavilion building
Sparkle in the Long Gallery© Jim Holden
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