Coco Crampton: Domestic Wears at Belmacz, London

6 November 2020 By

Suitably enough for a year when we are spending so much time at home, Coco Crampton’s new solo-show at Belmacz in Mayfair shows a body of work that reflects on domestic containment.

Crampton (born 1983) borrows, hijacks and re-interprets forms of 20th Century art, design and architecture. Combining materials that range from ceramics to wood and metal in unusual ways, Crampton’s new forms question the ideological and practical purpose of modernist designs. Based in London, she creates playful environments that often relate to the domestic sphere. For example, Crampton created three oversized ceramic lampshades for her exhibition at Charleston Trust in 2015, directly inspired by Quentin Bell’s lampshades at the iconic farmhouse.

In this new show at Belmacz, cabinet-like column structures are arranged amongst semi-transparent curtains, as though to prevent total exposure. Reminiscent of bedroom furniture, such as washstands that may have contained chamber pots, here they contain a different form of ceramicware. When the double doors of these column cabinets are open, these vessel-like sculptures seem like dancing human figures, bringing Oscar Schlemmer’s modernist ballet performances to mind.

The painted faux-marbling which Crampton has applied onto the cabinets relates to the tradition of the English Grand Tour in the 18th Century, when exotic marbles and semi-precious stone from Italy became a fashion in England and often imitated in scagliola. However, Crampton’s colour palette of blue, black and turquoise tones also hints to the Italian designer and architect Ettore Sottsass and the Memphis group, who appropriated this décor in the 20th Century.

The ceramic sculptures, whether standing in the shop window or placed within the cabinets in the gallery space, form a tension in material and scale with the columns. Their colourful glazes and unusual forms immediately catch the viewer’s attention. Based on prototypes, they are negating any possibility of use: the spouts are closed, and they have multiple, contradictory handles that make them look absurd.

Crampton created these vessels on a Leach kick wheel in her studio and fired them in her own kiln. The titles of the sculptures – for example Dos-à-Dos / Squirrel, or of the vessels like Twinkle From The Flaze or Pink Hobby Pot – reveal the artist’s sense of humour and playfulness.

Overall Domestic Wears is a unique reimagining of the quotidian and an ironic allusion to daily rituals, from ablutions to dressing. Crampton’s new body of work slyly crosses the boundaries between craft and fine art, following the modernist mantra ‘Form Follows Function’ ad absurdum. Her bold experimenting with various textures and materials makes her sculptural language unique and so, accompanied by an essay by Ines Weizman and a lively poem by Toby Upson, this exquisite Gesamtkunstwerk at Belmacz positively demands to be seen.

Christine Takengny


Belmacz, 45 Davies Street, London W1K 4LX. Open Monday-Thursday 10.00-18.00, Friday by appointment only. Exhibition continues until 10 January 2021.