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'Secret Society'
an Elizabethan Banquet
at Doddington Hall

Summer 2014



Plaster Bust Collection – a 21st century re-interpretation of the historical portrait bust.

The collection is a contemporary response to the traditionally sculpted figurative statues and busts of the 18th and 19th centuries, but rather than sculpting in clay or stone, the busts are made by direct casting from real things.

To construct the original sculpture from which the plaster casts are taken, the first step is to ‘collage’ together all kinds of materials and found objects – fabrics, haberdashery, model buildings and vehicles, plastic packaging, corrugated card, paper, electrical and plumbing parts and much else. The plaster casts made from these originals pick up an amazing amount of texture and detail giving the sculptures a strange air of realism.

The idea of placing architectural monuments, iconic landmarks and random objects on the headdresses was inspired by the intriguing 18th century fad of decorating hats with very large scale, incongruous objects - famously Marie Antoinette adorned a hat with a huge ship in full sail.

The references and objects chosen are quite diverse but are linked by my perception of forms as extremely sculptural in nature - whether an architectural structure, a bulldozer, a jet fighter or a book or the extreme three-dimensional headgear and costumes designed by the likes of Junya Watanabe or Alexander McQueen.

The Secret Society Elizabethan Banquet

The ‘Secret Society Sculptural Banquets’ are a series of contemporary interventions in historic settings which provide a ‘live event’ for the Plaster Bust collection.
Everything one would expect at a luxurious banquet is invitingly displayed along the length of a massive dining table - cascading fruits, piles of exotic shell-fish, magnificent multi-tiered cakes, and decanters of wine, set off by voluptuous bouquets of flowers.
Although at a glance glamorous and luxurious, in fact all the banquet objects are cheap, every-day items dipped in plaster. Collected from charity shops, pound shops, flea markets and from the recycle bin, plastic flowers, fruit and cutlery, beer cans, paper plates, charity shop glasses, discarded packaging including take-away cups and burger boxes, chocolate boxes and cigarette packets all gather a sense of sophistication and opulence when uniformly coated in bright, white plaster. This ‘anti-luxe’ reflects one of the key concepts behind the plaster busts themselves, being constructed from waste and found materials of low intrinsic value.


   Other Secret Society Banquets:
  'Secret Society Sculptural Banquet' at Pitzhnager Manor, London
  'Secret Society - a Ballroom Banquet' at the Hoburne Museum, Bath
  'Secret Society - a Last Supper' at St Edmund Church, City of London
   Films & reviews of the Secret Society
   See the entire Plaster Bust Collection 

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