Dramatic installation for the V&A’s new galleries commissioned with Art Fund help

Independent charity The Art Fund today announces that it has given £80,000 towards a bold, new installation by critically acclaimed potter Edmund de Waal for the central dome of the V&A’s new Ceramics Galleries. It will be unveiled when the galleries open on 18 September.

Signs & Wonders

Signs & Wonders is a red lacquer shelf (14 metres in diameter) that runs the circumference of the ceiling dome and will sit 40 metres above the V&A’s Brompton Road entrance. 450 monochrome ceramics thrown by de Waal will be arranged on the shelf in rhythmical groupings. Each group is inspired by one of the museum’s major ceramics collections, from 18th century French porcelain to Hispano-Moorish lustre and English slipware.

On entering the museum, people will be able to look up and glimpse the arcs of Signs & Wonders; the installation in its entirety can be viewed in the contemporary ceramics room in the new sixth floor galleries.

Edmund de Waal said: “Signs & Wonders is my most ambitious project yet: a conversation between the historic collections and the contemporary. It is a conversation about collecting on the threshold of the V&A.”

Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund, said: “During the course of his career, Edmund de Waal has transformed the notion of what ceramics can be, culminating in this magnificent installation. Signs & Wonders encapsulates his innovative, audacious approach as well as the timeless beauty of pottery.”

Reino Leifkes, Head of Ceramics at the V&A and lead curator of the Ceramics Galleries, said: “Signs & Wonders is a brilliant and bold piece of work, a perfect ‘crown’ to complete our beautiful new galleries.

“We have worked very closely with The Art Fund to realise this installation and their generous support has been key to making it happen. Over the years, the charity has helped us acquire a number of important historic pieces, and their support of contemporary art has also allowed us to acquire some large-scale new works that would normally have been beyond our reach.”

Since it was founded in 1903, The Art Fund has given over £5 million to the V&A to help it acquire 285 objects. In addition, the V&A has been given 279 gifts and 58 bequests through The Art Fund.

To date, The Art Fund has given 10 works by Edmund de Waal to various museums and galleries across the UK, including a £60,000 grant towards the acquisition of the installation Wunderkammer for mima, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, in 2008.

The V&A’s new Ceramics Galleries open on 18 September 2009. Entry will be free.