Hannah Lees, I came like water and like wind I go, 2016. Installation view at Turner Contemporary. Image by Stephen White.
Turner Contemporary and the British Museum (National Programmes) have commissioned artist Hannah Lees to create a new work for the Clore Learning Studio at Turner Contemporary in response to the British Museum’s collection of Roman Samian Ware pottery found along the coast near Whitstable. Known as Pudding Pan pots, these Roman bowls, plates and cups were first brought ashore in the 18th century by fishermen around Herne Bay. The pottery was made in Lezoux (central Gaul) and transported by ship to Britain during the late second century AD, but the ship carrying the Samiam Ware was wrecked off the coast of Kent. Although the exact location of the wreck is unknown it is thought to lie near Pudding Pan Rock, a site visible from Turner Contemporary’s Learning Studio. The pottery found by the fishermen was sometimes used by local families to cook and eat or sold to antiquaries.
Hannah Lees work is inspired by ritual and religion and influenced by her interest history and heritage connected to her home-town of Canterbury. She explores cycles of decay and regeneration often using natural materials and is particularly interested in rituals surrounding consumption. She has been working with curators from the British Museum to research the Roman history of Kent, particularly Roman consumption and trade routes.
For her new commission she will create a mural in the learning studio made from wine lees, the clay-like sediment left behind in the wine-making process emphasising both the long history of wine-making in Kent and also the clay-slip used to make the Roman pottery. The mural will form the background to a table set with the remnants of a simple, symbolic meal of bread and wine.
Lees will also exhibit a number of small, plaster tablets containing items found beachcombing at Herne Bay, Whitstable and Margate in Kent and Dunkerque in Northern France where the Roman pots started their journey across the channel. These will be shown alongside casts of seeds associated with fruits introduced to Britain by the Romans.
A group of Pudding Pan vessels from the British Museum will be displayed in the Clore Learning Studio at Turner Contemporary alongside the new commission.
With thanks to Aquini’s Continental Bakery, Davenport Vineyards, London Cru Urban Winery, Meltdowns, Chris Lydamore (Figulus) and Mark Taylor & David Hill (The Glassmakers).
The British Museum’s National Programmes is generously supported by the Dorset Foundation.