Virtual Visit: World Tour, British Isles
Text and Images Courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum

Above: Thomas Clement Thompson, Colonel Lord Howden, 1823. Oil on canvas. Gift of Jerry and Florence E. Nelson.

As we continue our virtual world tour through the PhxArt Collection, we lift off from the virtual runway in New York City to cross the stormy grey waters of the North Atlantic, en route to the British Isles. From the bustling metropolises of London and Edinburgh, to the lush gardens of the English countryside, we explore the art, literature, films, and music of the region, with a deeper look at contemporary British artists, Scotland’s role in a global fashion trend, and so much more. You’ll also enjoy a selection of works from the PhxArt Collection that were created by British artists, that capture a moment of British history, or are inspired by British arts and culture. Next stop: this royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle.

Above, top left: Christopher Bucklow, Guest (M.B., 3:14 p.m., 19th August 1995), 1995. Cibachrome print. Gift of J. Cavenee Smith and Wayne King. Top right: Thomas Lawrence, Lady Louisa Hawkins Wheatley (Dama Louisa Hawkins Wheatley), before 1810. Oil on canvas. Gift of Mrs. Barbara Leggett. Bottom left: Alexander McQueen, Dress (Vestido), Fall 2010. Silk. Gift of Ms. Suzy Kellems Dominik in honor of the exhibition Extending the Runway: Tatiana Sorroko Style.  Bottom right: Philip C. Curtis, The Lift (El ascensor), 1972. Oil on panel. Gift of Edward Jacobson Revocable Trust.

Getting to Know Sir Anish Kapoor

One of the most beloved works in the Museum’s collection and a favorite among our visitors is Anish Kapoor’s massive, black resin sculpture, Upside Down, Inside Out (2003). Often on view in the Museum’s Katz Wing for Modern Art, the inky-black, mirror-sleek sculpture was acquired by the Museum in 2007. But who is Anish Kapoor?

Kapoor was born in 1954 in what is now Mumbai, India. In the early 1970s, he moved to London, where he earned his undergraduate degree at the Hornsey College of Art and an MA at the Chelsea School of Art. 

Throughout his career, Kapoor has been fascinated with exploring negative space through geometric, curvilinear, and reflected forms (similar to Upside Down, Inside Out) that are often created from diverse materials such as mirrors, stone, granite, dirt, concrete, wax, resin, and PVC. The artist is best known, however, for his large-scale, abstract, public sculptures that manipulate form and the perception of space; he has received critical acclaim for his most recognizable work, Cloud Gate (2004), otherwise known as the “Bean,” which is installed in Chicago’s Millennium Park.

In 2012, Kapoor was commissioned to create a public sculpture in honor of the 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in London. The sculpture, entitled ArcelorMittal Orbit, was created in partnership with Cecil Balmond, a London-based engineer. It would become the largest public-art structure in Great Britain, a dynamically lit, brilliant red observation tower, inspired by science and myth—namely the movement of electrons and the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel. The structure measures more than 375 feet tall and can today be seen in London’s Olympic Park in Stratford.

To view Kapoor’s Upside Down, Inside Out
in the PhxArt Collection, click here.

Above: Installation view of India: Fashion’s Muse, 2020, Phoenix Art Museum. Courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum.

A Pattern by Any Other Name: Paisley

One of the most popular patterns in modern fashion remains the timeless Paisley. The swirling, teardrop shape brings style and life to innumerable designs, from curtains to button-down blouses. The pattern takes its name from the Scottish Lowland town of Paisley, which borders big-city Glasgow. The region, famous for its weaving, became the primary producer of the Paisley shawl, made popular by Queen Victoria early in her reign. But the origins of the Paisley, which bears the name of this Scottish region, are actually not Scottish at all.

The intricate, teardrop shape developed from the Persian boteh and is believed to be based on a bent cypress tree, symbolizing fertility and prosperity. Adaptations appeared across India by the 16th century, with variations in form and name that reflect the diversity of each region. 

By the early 1800s, Western fashion designers had become obsessed with Kashmir shawls, a fine accessory featuring stylized versions of the Paisley image and woven from the soft, wintery undercoat of the Pashmina goat. These luxurious and intricate textiles could take a skilled weaver years to produce by hand and were prized gifts from Mughal emperors and imperial maharajas. 

 By 1820, the town of Paisley, Scotland, became the leading producer of imitation Kashmir shawls, or the Paisley shawl, for Western markets. The new Jacquard loom could weave the complex patterns at high speed, using a punch-card system reminiscent of early modern computers. These affordable copies flooded the market, leading to the proliferation of the Paisley design globally and, most unfortunately, undermining the demand for the original shawls produced by Indian weavers using traditional methods.

Virtual Artist Talk: Erica Deeman

In 2017, Phoenix Art Museum acquired a series of photographs by British-born artist Erica Deeman, which were included in the Museum’s 60th-anniversary exhibition, PhxArt60: The Past Decade. Following the acquisition of her work, Deeman visited Phoenix to speak to Museum Docents, our corps of volunteer educators. Discover more about the artist, born in 1977 in Nottingham and today working in San Francisco, with this engaging, virtual talk. 

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