Who writes history? Whose histories define Britishness, and how does this change over time? Why do museums celebrate the lives of some people and ignore others?
Exploring themes of mass production, celebrity, colonialism and our notion of history, this impressive installation by ceramic artist and curator, Matt Smith, features over 100 sculptural Parian busts from the Glynn collection. Highlighting previously widely celebrated nineteenth-century figures, Matt challenges the traditional reading of these figures and their achievements.
Parian is a fine, unglazed porcelain resembling marble. It is an unstable material, and the unpredictability of it provides a platform from which we can examine our changing views of history and our changing opinions of those individuals depicted – accepting that our understanding of the past is always in flux. New work in Parian made by Smith can be seen in the Museum's galleries, challenging us to look at the permanent collection in a new light. An illustrated catalogue is available to purchase from the Courtyard Shop.
The Glynn collection of over 300 pieces of Parian was accepted by H.M. Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax from the estate of G.D.V. Glynn, and allocated to The Fitzwilliam Museum in 2016