Friday, 2 January 2015

Real homes: the gratuitous display cupboard conundrum

In an ideal world, the fabulous Fornasetti menu plates that I've written about here before would be within financial reach, and the glass-fronted kitchen display cupboard would now be full of them.

Indeed, if I had, over the years, collated a beloved curation of anything with some kind of theme – ceramic or otherwise – then the cupboard would easily have some kind of 'look' going on. But no...

The cupboard – once my grandma's dining room glasses cupboard – is a luxuriously gratuitous space. There isn't really anything that needs to go in it that we can't fit into the regular kitchen storage areas and, simply so that it is not empty, it currently houses lots of random things that would look better in other parts of the house. Except that that wouldn't leave the cupboard eerily bare. So the randomness remains while the hunt for the right decorative collection continues. But I think I may have found something to start it...



...Grayson Perry's limited edition plates, £30 each from the National Portrait Gallery.

Each of the four fine china plates has a gilded edge and features a detail from Perry's wonderfully off-beat self-portrait, Map of Days, which you can see in full below.

In a clip from his excellent Channel 4 series Who Are You? you can watch Perry talking about why the idea of making a traditional self-portrait makes him cringe because, to him, it feels like "going back to the earnest 16-year-old in the art room at school trying to look down the barrel of my own angst".

Two mugs featuring Perry's work are also available, see one of them below, along with other pieces produced by Kit Grover to tie in with Who Are You? along with other homewares and accessories. See the full range here at the NPG.


There are lots of pretty plates about, and the idea of having things "just for best" pains me – if you love it, use it. But I'm breaking my own home philosophy here, and veering towards a slowly-built collection of art that happens to be on plates – lending it a kitchen-y theme. Sturdier plates can still be interesting, but they'll just have a different function. Artist plates are a nice way to begin building an art collection on a budget and Perry could be starting something in the kitchen... My other idea, inspired by a helpful tweet from the Balcony Gardener, is to turn the cupboard into an indoor greenhouse and stuff it with interesting plants. Perhaps I'll do both... watch this space.

If you like unusual plates, check out some other favourite designs I've featured here, including ceramics by: La Kinska, Louise Wilkinson, Melody Rose, vintage Ironstone and Evie Lotts. You might also like the monochrome Day Birger range at Rockett St George, which I also have my eye on.


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