Beautiful ceramic butterflies are gracing the Royal Pavilion

PUBLISHED: 16:53 29 November 2010 | UPDATED: 17:37 20 February 2013

Beautiful ceramic butterflies are gracing the Royal Pavilion

Beautiful ceramic butterflies are gracing the Royal Pavilion

The newest artwork gracing the Royal Pavilion is a temporary installation of 3,000 beautiful ceramic butterflies.

Pictures Matthew Andrews


VISITORS to the Royal Pavilion in Brighton have been intrigued by a new artwork that has been gracing the regal pleasure palace in recent weeks.
Three thousand black ceramic butterflies have settled into the grand ground floor rooms and into the Prince Regents bedroom upstairs.
They were conceived, created and installed by artist Clare Twomey, who came up with the idea of the butterflies after being struck by the scale of the extravagance of the Pavilion.



Clare hopes that visitors will be moved to reflect on the nature of this by her installation.



She worked closely with the Keeper of the Royal Pavilion and its conservation team during the planning and installation of the work.
At first the butterflies are not so noticeable but they begin to appear to swarm as you walk through the building and on a second visit you see them straight away. She said: I was drawn to the Royal Pavilion because of its profound beauty and excess. As I studied the interior, I noticed the icon of the butterfly.



It is very temporal and, if you see one, it is for a moment magical and frivolous. The black silhouettes of my butterflies are very graphic and will be a prominent contrast against the vibrancy of the Pavilions colourful interiors.



David Beevers, Keeper of the Royal Pavilion, reflected: In Antiquity the butterfly, emerging from the chrysalis, came to symbolise the soul leaving the body at death.



In Christian art the life cycle of the caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly is equated with life, death, and resurrection. The transient beauty of the butterfly could be a metaphor for the transience of life and the vanity of earthly things. So swarms of black butterflies, though beautiful, are menacing and even deathly.



The swarms of butterflies in the Pavilion, at once beautiful and threatening, will both seduce and disturb the visitor and will add another perspective within the narrative of the building. On a more down to earth level, the artist also attempted to keep her beautiful butterflies away from would-be souvenir hunters but nobody will know how many of them remain until the exhibition ends in January.

The plan then is to auction the entire collection to keep them together rather than selling them individually.

The artist Clare Twomey trained at the Edinburgh College of Art and the Royal College of Art. She constructs large scale installations, sculpture and site-specific works. She has exhibited at Tate, V&A, mima, Crafts Council, Eden Project, Royal Academy, Zuiderzee Museum, Netherlands, Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, and museums in the USA.



The themes of Twomeys work are influenced by observations of human interaction and political behaviour. She continues to develop installations which pursue her interest in space and architectural interventions.

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