June 2022 

A fascinating exhibition telling the story of the shifting market for ceramics in 1930s Britain is coming to Wheal Martyn this summer.

Art on the Menu charts the story behind an unusual Harrods exhibition and features remarkable tableware painted by artists involved in the experiment. It will be on display from Wednesday 6 July.

In 1934, an experiment took place at Harrods in London. Sir William Rothenstein, Principal of the Royal College of Art, selected twenty-seven artists to produce their own designs for affordable tableware for everyday use. Each would be paid £10 per design plus royalties. Artists were invited to visit the ceramic factories to learn the techniques required to translate their work on paper into the finished product.

Participating artists included Laura Knight, Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson and the diverse and striking ceramics they designed were exhibited in the store.

The Harrods exhibition not only aimed to address the problem of affordability, but to revolutionise attitudes towards the relationship between art, design and industry.

The following year the exhibition was displayed at other department stores across the country, before continuing its travels throughout the British Empire. Canada, South Africa and Australia all hosted exhibitions, with the result that examples of the pieces found their way into museum collections around the world.

Art on the Menu is on display in the Roger Preston Gallery until 28 September.

Entry to the exhibition is included in the museum admission price.