Richard Slee - Mantelpiece Observations

Richard Slee - Mantelpiece Observations

Saturday 12 September 2020 to Sunday 3 January 2021 in the Temporary Exhibitions gallery

A video tour of Mantelpiece Observations 

Matthew Watson, Museum Access Officer, takes us on a virtual tour of Richard Slee's Mantelpiece Observations Exhibition at Bolton Museum.


Richard Slee Intro image 1

This exhibition presents new work by Richard Slee, one of Britain’s most important contemporary ceramic artists. The newly commissioned pieces have been inspired by Mass Observation’s Mantelpiece Reports of 1937. The reports, with their fascinating lists of objects, reveal much about the tastes, preferences and preoccupations of people living in 1930s Britain. Slee’s work also explores questions of personal and national identity, history and taste, through his surreal transformations of ordinary domestic objects.

Richard Slee Gallery image 1

Slee has also selected 18 photographs by Humphrey Spender to hang alongside his mantelpiece ceramics. Spender was the lead photographer on Mass Observation’s study of Bolton and Blackpool in the late 1930s, and the 900 images he took for the project are held in the collections of Bolton Museum. Slee’s selection highlights the surreal side of Spender’s northern photographs.

Richard Slee Block woolly cat

Richard Slee in conversation with Sonia Solicari

In this series of illustrated conversations, artist Richard Slee talks to Sonia Solicari, Director, Museum of the Home, about the influences behind his current show, Mantelpiece Observations. Touching on a variety of themes – from Mass Observation’s 1937 study of mantelpieces to Surrealism and the work of MO photographer Humphrey Spender – the conversations offer a marvellous insight into Slee’s new ceramic pieces.


In the studio: working on the Mantlepiece ceramics

Humphrey Spender and Surrealism

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