Exhibition preview: Couriers of Taste, Danson House, Bexleyheath, until October 31 2013
Five years after artist Eliza Gluckman curated Contemporary Chinoiserie – an exhibition of UK and Canadian artists exploring the return of the “mania” for Chinese artefacts first witnessed during the 17th century – the discourse between artists east and west is being revisited in the suitably expansive surroundings of a 180-acre Grade I-listed Georgian mansion in Kent.
© Dom Moore
It also marks a first exhibition reappearance for Ai Weiwei’s seeds, famously seen in the house-incarcerated Chinese provocateur’s Tate Modern display three years ago.
The re-emergence of Weiwei’s titbits – gathered via a social media campaign after numerous Tate visitors failed to resist the urge to wander off with some of the 100,000,000 seeds – is essentially a large-scale consummation of the themes of identity and global tension coursing through the upper floor, with the aesthetic a fashionable one in a House where the salon is already adorned with wallpaper inspired by China.
Each room has a theme, split into territories, contemporary Chinoiserie, consumerism, the trader and, in a reconstruction by Karen Tam complete with beds, pipes and “cheap replica perfume”, an opium den.
Tam has also made a range of fake ornaments, accompanied by alien furniture courtesy of Stephanie Douet, computer bits referencing hi-tech consumerism by Susan Stockwell and a site-specific sculpture by Gayle Chong Kwan, who, alongside Douet, came up with the original idea of putting a contemporary spin on Chinoiserie.
In a poetically-inspired final room, Esque Collection, by Laura White, fills the space with 26 kaleidoscopic sculptures.
- Danson House, Danson Park, Bexleyheath. Open Sunday-Thursday 12pm-5pm. Admission £7/£5 ( free for under-16s, free re-admission for a year with Gift Aid). Follow @BexleyHeritage and use the hashtag #artdanson.
© S Castellana
© Courtesy Haunch of Venison. Photo: Peter Mallet
© BHT / A Purkiss
© Susan Stockwell 2011