The Last Supper Exhibition
31 March 2023
Entry via Cathedral Visitor ticket or passFind out more
Friday 31 March - Thursday 27 April
in the Lady Chapel
Internationally renowned artist Silvy Weatherall’s work is defined by the material she uses. A hater of waste, she works with objects that have passed their function, whether it is smashed china, broken jewellery, feathers, skulls or other things destined for landfill. Silvy finds beauty in objects and subject matter that is easily overlooked. This is also shown in her paintings and photographs. Her love of pattern is the common thread that runs through her work.
About The Last Supper by Silvy Weatherall
The idea for the Last Supper was born after my studio was flooded by biblical rain in 2018. When clearing it out, I found several pulpy cardboard boxes of my old, broken china.
The concept for this sculptural series came, then and there, from a play on words and a speculation into what was the last meal served upon these broken plates. There is also a word play between ‘bust’- the heads and ‘bust’- broken, as well as the physical and emotional meaning of being ‘broken’.
The busts vary in character by virtue of their ceramic components, but they are all similar. Their pared-down forms are modelled on the phrenology heads of 19th century. With psychiatry in mind, this series was made as a response to modern-day problems surrounding mental health.
Many of our current issues centre around existential crises and our ‘air-brush’ culture: striving to achieve the impossibility of perfection albeit through filtered lenses. Here, my aim is to embrace the Japanese ethos of Wabi-Sabi and the art of Kintsugi; to rejoice in and highlight the cracks and imperfections. These imperfections define us. We should acknowledge and celebrate imperfection and, where possible, the beauty of brokenness.
About the busts and their female aliases (by Silvy Weatherall)
I soon realised that I didn’t have enough broken china in my own collection to make the whole series of thirteen busts. I needed much, much more. Little did I know then, that when I called upon friends and family seeking gifts of broken china, it was invariably the woman of the household to make these domestic donations.
The act of breaking china is so shocking and sudden that it is too final to just chuck it in the bin. Besides… could it be mended? I am not talking about the Ikea cereal bowl or the freebie mug from Sports Direct. The stuff I was given came with commercial value (unbroken!), emotional ties and memories. Often they were precious by association; Grannie’s tea pot, a wedding gift, a child’s first mug. They had been held onto in a forgotten corner of the garage or cupboard and nothing had been done to repair them. I tried to use the larger gifts of china, where possible, to form their own busts.
I recognise each bust by the donor’s china and by virtue of that they have female aliases; Becky, Clara, Isobel, Jeanie, Antonia, Fiona, Sarah, Silvy, Sophy and Rosie! Jesus (the only identifiable character in the lineup) is a composite of all the collected china and the white bust has no female alias as all the patterns are on the inside’
It is commonly thought that The Last Supper was an all-male event. The busts in my series are non-binary, slightly robotic looking but by giving them a female alias it playfully opens up the table for discussion.
No china was broken specifically for this artwork. It had to be already broken, cracked or chipped.