St James's Gesamtkunstwerk
St James's Park, London
2016 – 2019
Commissioned for a private home in 2016, and completed in 2019, the St James's project is one of Clarke's most significant interiors. The initial brief for a mosaic floor developed via his ideology of Gesamtkunstwerk, or total art, into a scheme for an entrance hall conceived as both artwork and environment in itself. The sculptural metalwork, stained glass, integral paintings, mosaic, ceramics and bronze fittings pulling the central space and adjoining rooms into a linked whole; the mosaic floor continuing through the entrance hall into a bathroom and the adjacent elevator, both with backlit ceilings of mouthblown glass. A stained glass sliding screen of daffodils and cornflowers acts as a room-divider in the adjacent living area/kitchen. On an external patio overlooking St James's Park, a major mosaic work of Clarke's is installed: the 2010 Castlemaine House Mosaic, which was executed for the patrons at a previous location. When they moved to their new home, they had the mosaic surveyed and removed by a team of mosaicists and conservators, and reinstalled at St James's.
"Among contemporary practitioners, Brian Clarke has carried the concept of gesamtkunstwerk into extraordinary terrain. Increasingly over the last twenty years, he has orchestrated stained glass, painting, metal, mosaic, and tile into spectacular ensembles, material operas, wholly in the early modern spirit of gesamtkunstwerk.The interior of this private London house contains work in ceramic tile, mosaic, glass, metalwork, and oil on canvas. The combination of disciplines in this contemporary gesamtkunstwerk resonates with the Golden Age of Islam, via the Art Nouveau generation. Clarke's ability to orchestrate disciplines, so as to preserve their individual character and integrity, while enablingt them to function together, places him at the very front of contemporary architectural art." – author and art historian Paul Greenhalgh in the book Ceramic, Art and Civilisation (2021).