Curious Trends


House of cards and imperfect decorative art

Following on from Tim Burton’s 2010 Alice in Wonderland film, we’re still seeing the influence of playing cards in design and interiors. The Royal Ballet’s production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland also premieres on 28th February. In this trend, the suits of cards play part of a symbolic focus, which has less to do with the ‘curious’, and is more related to everyday experiences of chance, luck and the deceptive sleight of hand associated with games and magic tricks. The traditional colours and styles of playing cards are becoming popular for wallpapers and fabrics too.

Oversized playing cards feature in Andrew Martin’s latest interiors displays, as decorative pieces, but also, perhaps, as a symbol of imperfection and the element of risk involved in building a house of cards.

Vintage sets of playing cards and accessories such as card tables and cribbage boards have become sought after as collectable memorabilia

The social implications of playing games and the significance of winning or losing are reflected in many historical artefacts, for instance, amongst Walter Potter’s antique taxidermy displays (as recently shown at the Museum of Everything) is a case of squirrels playing cards. This is a comment on mortality, as the squirrels are dead, yet presented in a way which makes them appear very much alive - with the card game representing the game of life, perhaps?

Also on the theme of life as a game of chance, The Vegas Gallery’s forthcoming re-opening and group show from10th March – 17th April is called Roulette.

In a quest to find a ‘perpetual motion machine’ the Roulette wheel was first created in crude form by Blaise Pascal in the 17th century. A game of anomalies and co-incidences, all the numbers on the wheel adding up to number 6 forced the myth that Pascal had made a pact will the devil to obtain the secret of the wheel. Over the last 200 years mathematicians and physicists have dedicated vast amounts of time and money fruitlessly trying to work out the patterns and probabilities of the wheel. The result is the modified version we know today - an amalgamation of European influences built up over the years to create the game of chance we now know as Roulette.

Artists featured in the exhibition will include Bouke de Vries, the Dutch design artist who reconstructs broken objects from reclaimed china, glass and pottery, resulting in pieces that are full of intriguing imperfections.
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