Chiswick Mall Orangery
Riverside Cottages, Chiswick, London
The Orangery is an artwork in the form of a mosaic-floored, stained-glass-covered conservatory, created as an element of the broader Chiswick Mall project (2015–2017), commissioned for a historically-significant home on the River Thames.
“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. You can't hold onto that kind of euphoric moment for very long: you pass out. But they come and they go, at different intensities, and somehow that filter of blue and gold and yellow is tremendously uplifting. My friend Frank Lowe wanted to build a sort of greenhouse, not for plants but for people – the idea was an orangery in a place you can't really grow oranges, a conservatory where he could go and sit in his colonial wicker chair reading the newspaper, And there's just one special moment in it: a sheet of musical score from Suor Angelica, an opera he's always loved, that I made in stained glass as a surprise for him, set in the roof. When Frank was on the board of the Royal Opera House, he often said 'we should do a production of Suor Angelica where you design the sets, at Covent Garden', and we never did, but here I imagined it as a sheet of paper just floating down, like from his score, floating around there, it had blown out of the satchel of somebody on the street and had just landed on the greenhouse roof and the light was coming through it – and it was his favourite thing. So in our way, we did do Suor Angelica, just not in the way we expected.” – Brian, 2020.