Chiswick Mall

2015 - 2017
Private residence, London, United Kingdom

Between 2015 and 2017 Brian Clarke was commissioned to create artworks for Chiswick Mall, a private home of historical significance on the river Thames in London which played a formative role in the Arts and Crafts Movement. The project involved the design of rooms throughout a series of interconnected nineteenth-century cottages as total environments.

For this project, conceived as a Gesamtkunstwerk (a ‘total work of art’), Clarke incorporated a vast range of elements and artistic media that complement each other. These elements include bespoke ceramic tiles, handrails and stained glass; a ceramic-clad fireplace with matching grill and fire-irons, surmounted by slate and micro-mosaic panels adapted from the ‘Night Orchids’ series; a range of stained glass windows throughout the buildings' other rooms; eight different types of clear mouth-blown glass for transparent windows; Venetian glass smalti and Roman-set stone flooring; and historical stained glass into key areas of the fabric of the building.

Reflecting the home’s roots in nineteenth-century art, for example, Clarke created a window, Tribute to Burne-Jones, in 2015. In this work, Clarke combined his own depiction of primroses in stained glass with a historic window by Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) as part of a single, backlit composition. Clarke’s panel echoes and amplifies the skilled manipulation of material that he sees as Burne-Jones’s greatest legacy as ‘the first modern artist’. (Brian Clarke, Journal of Stained Glass - Vol XXXV, 2011)

In contrast, Clarke created a mosaic floor for the Orangery, a stained-glass-covered conservatory, in 2015. In 2020, Clarke said:

‘The Orangery is a work of art that really you’re not required to do any intellectualising about at all, but just luxuriate in the beauty that’s created by putting those colour filters between the sun and you, and the floor is such a delicate, varied interaction between lines of stone and forms of coloured smalti, with the glory of this roof almost like a glimpse into paradise – you know, that’s too banal, it’s better than that. It has the artifice to drag bliss down out of the air and kind of let it go in front of your face.’

As a surprise for his friend and patron Frank Lowe, Clarke incorporated into his stained glass roof a special moment in the form of a sheet of musical score from Suor Angelica, an opera he always loved, and for which he dreamed Clarke might design sets.

This scheme was recognised by The Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers, one of the ancient Livery Companies of the City of London, and in 2021 was awarded a Wall and Floor Tiling Award Special Commendation for the 'unique 3D glazed ceramic blocks and tiles, including hand crafted ceramic handrails and glazed skirtings'. Through these works, Clarke said in 2020 that he aimed to ‘interpret what was born there, the Arts and Crafts Movement, in the language of modernity’.