Miniature masterpieces by a range of contemporary artists, architects, fashion designers, cartoonists and other personalities go on show at Sir John Soane’s Museum from Tuesday May 19 to Saturday June 6 ahead of their raffle on Friday June 26. In tandem with the exhibition, Soane’s private apartments and model room – unseen by the public for more than 160 years – will open for prebooked visits following extensive conservation and restoration.
Artist Maggi Hambling, sculptor Antony Gormley, architects Zaha Hadid, Will Alsop and Ken Shuttleworth, designers Ross Lovegrove and Allegra Hicks, fashion designers Paul Smith, Christopher Bailey and Manolo Blahnik, political cartoonist Rupert Redway and broadcaster Jon Snow were among those invited to create postcard-size artworks inspired by 100 objects from the museum’s collection that aren’t normally on public display. More than 140 artworks in a variety of media include paintings, collages, photography, sculptures, ceramics and metalwork.
Some are inspired by the museum’s building, such as Bailey’s watercolour and ink drawing of the façade (second picture) and Snow’s watercolour of a bust and window overlooking Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Blahnik’s pencil and Chinese ink illustration (first picture), Chlamys Slingback, acknowledges the museum’s classical columns, while CJ Hobbs’ whimsical pen and ink cartoon gives a nod to the yellow Breakfast Parlour. Others reference specific items held by the museum – such the Turner seascapes, which inspired Hambling’s monoprint. Books in the collection have also proved inspirational. Hicks’ watercolour was inspired by a rare 1797 edition of Edward Young’s Night Thoughts, illustrated by William Blake, while Elmgreen & Dragset’s artwork (third picture) references a Michelinot engraving in a 1769 edition of Nicolas Le Camus de Mézières’ book of architectural drawings. The eclectic nature of the museum’s collection, meanwhile, gave rise to Smith’s pen and watercolour piece.
Perhaps one of the most poignant works is a postcard painted by US architect Michael Graves before he died earlier this year. This will be auctioned separately by the US-based Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation – of which he was an advisory board member. (Bidders can make pledges by emailing their contact details and the amount they wish to donate to firstname.lastname@example.org. The highest bidder will be notified when the raffle is drawn on June 26.)
All the work is on show at the museum, and here visitors can complete pledge forms (minimum donation £350) to enter the raffle. Each donation will be matched by the Leon Levy Foundation (up to the sum of £50,000) to raise funds, which will help digitise 18,000 items in the museum’s drawing collection so they can be accessed by the public online.
Given the museum’s commitment to nurturing creativity and education, the chance to win an original artwork seems a wonderful reward for supporters.