The Art of Dining is a triennial fundraiser held in Melbourne for the National Gallery of Victoira.This year's gala was inspried by Tiepolo’s ‘The Banquet of Cleopatra’, an evocation of lavish excess and one of the museum’s prize possessions.
Forty tables are presented by Australia’s leading artists, interior designers, couturiers, florists stylists and retailers for a lavish and wildly creative masked gala held in the Great Hall at NGV International.
Martyn Thompson Studio was thrilled and honored to be asked by gallery director Tony Ellwood and design curator Simone Leamon to create the head table for the NGV.
MTS interpreted the theme in the studio’s spirit of bohemia—it’s love of the artists process and the hand made.The table is styled like a Martyn Thompson still life photo. Our imagination transports us to a cool, exotic, flower filled conservatory. We feel comforted and safe under a canopy of fern. Life is in motion…a celebration of color, texture and light where we sense the human presence. The event is underway…the life being lived.
The Martyn Thompson Studio ethos of “The Accidental Expressionist” is brought into play here. The studio’s textiles and ceramics evoke the haphazard beauty of the painter's studio. The incidental marks of the artist; paint splatters, stains and specks, are elevated and transformed into woven fabrics that speak to the beauty of unconscious creation. Hand crafted ceramics by artist Dove Drury Hornbuckle mix with flea market finds and Martyn’s one-off hand painted plates. Vintage chairs have been refinished and reupholstered. Old and new collide in bohemian rhapsody, all capped in a cascade of flowery delight by Lou Clark from Floral and Found.
Historical note..... Tieplolo’s “the Banquet of Cleopatra,” The love affair between the Roman consul Mark Antony (83–30 BC) and the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra (69–30 BC) was a popular subject for artists in the eighteenth century. The episode represented in Tiepolo’s painting is drawn from Pliny’s Natural History (written in AD 77). Here Pliny recounted the tale of a famous contest between the Egyptian and Roman rulers whereby Cleopatra wagered that she could stage a feast more lavish than the legendary excesses of Mark Antony.
Tiepolo shows the dramatic moment at the end of Cleopatra’s repast when, faced with a still scornful Mark Antony, she wins the wager with her trump card. Removing one of a pair of priceless pearl earrings, Cleopatra dissolves it in a glass of vinegar and drinks it, thereby causing Mark Antony to lose his bet.