Edmund De Waal aims to be "skying like Constable" at Turner Contemporary

By Richard Moss | 05 February 2014

One of the best museum windows in the UK will provide the dramatic backdrop for the work of potter Edmund De Waal this year

a photo of a series of suspended ceramic vessels
Edmund de Waal's, a thousand hours, 2012. His new commssion for Turner Contemporary promises to have visitors "skying".© Photo Benjamin McMahon
It is one of the most impressive art gallery windows in the UK and now Edmund de Waal is the latest artist to respond to its renowned North Sea vista.  

The spectacular seascape which greets visitors to the Sunley Gallery of Margate’s Turner Contemporary will be the setting for a major new commission by the renowned ceramicist and author, whose forthcoming show opens at the gallery in March 2014.

Atmosphere (2014) will comprise of a series of long, suspended vitrines that are designed to be “in conversation with the mutable light from the sea” offering the viewer an array of horizons as they move through the space - both on the gallery’s ground floor and from the overlooking balcony.

De Waal, the third artist to tackle the annual commission following works by Maria Nepomuceno in 2012 and Daniel Buren in 2011, says he drew inspiration for the piece from John Constable’s love of “skying”.

“When thinking about the changing landscape of clouds, I remember Constable's beautiful letter about lying on his back and doing 'a great deal of skying'," says the potter. "There is no more extraordinary place to look at the sky than the Sunley Gallery at Turner Contemporary.

"Atmosphere is my attempt to make a response to this threshold between a building and the air outside. Suspended in the space are nine vitrines holding 200 small celadon and grey porcelain vessels. I hope they will provoke some skying of their own.”

The commission will be accompanied by two other works by the artist; Juxtaposed alongside Atmosphere is Bauspiel, a group of vessels residing on a floor based plinth in a configuration which reflects those in the nearby suspended vitrines.

Turner Contemporary’s ground floor corridor will also be transformed by a new wall-based text installation, which sees De Waal convert the space into a life-size notebook, drawing on an array of sources from Turner’s letters to the poems of Baudelaire.

Edmund de Waal: Atmosphere runs at Turner Contemporary from March 29 2014 – February 8 2015.

A photograph of a group of white vitirnes with cylindrical ceramic objects in them
Edmund de Waal, work on a freestanding plinth. One of the works accompanying Atmosphere atTurner Contemporary from March 2014.© Mike Bruce
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