Copywriting : Anna Church – ‘At Your Service’
We penned a press release for artist Anna Church in preparation for her exhibition at The Poi Room, Auckland in 2011.
The exhibition garnered a number of mentions in mainstream media and the blogosphere as well as a fantastic profile of Anna by ‘Her’ magazine.
Image: ‘Medal Set’ from the series ‘At Your Service’ by Anna Church.
It’s a fair step up in life for a gravy boat to become a service medal (or part of one at least), but in artist Anna Church’s latest series, one manages to get that promotion … as does a formica serving tray, a tea strainer and ice tongs.
‘At Your Service’ is a stunning new series of works in limited edition by Church which compel at least a second and third look. As in her previous series, Church has brought together a collection of objects and arranged them to resemble something other. In this case, each large-scale photograph appears to be of a service medal, however on closer inspection, it reveals itself as being composed of a number of items of serviceware. Silver spoons, linen napkins, platters and the aforementioned gravy boat all make an appearance as the more masculine bigger picture unveils itself to be far more feminine in its intricate detail.
The ideas underpinning ‘At Your Service’ were two years in the polishing and Church spent months scouring antique dealers and friends’ china cabinets for just the right piece for each composition. The components had to be perfect, both thematically and aesthetically. For example, ‘Sunday Roast’ is made up of a silver gravy boat, serving spoons, carving knife and fork, linens and china.
Unapologetically nostalgic, ‘At Your Service’ draws upon rapidly fading notions of service. It pays homage to a day when, whether one had ‘help’ or not, the utmost care was taken to present and serve meals impeccably; on the best china, the silver polished to a sheen, the linen starched to within an inch of its life and a different fork for every occasion. Compared to today, when heaven forbid one should go to too much fuss, when casual is cool and relaxed reigns, ‘At Your Service’ celebrates the time when a night cap warranted the cut glass crystal and a Sunday roast was in itself a reason to decorate the table with the family silver.
As importantly, the series also references service to Queen and country and an era when men and women were called, in their thousands, to practice feats of the greatest bravery in order to preserve their way of life … and were decorated in gratitude for doing so.
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High Tea is “the opportunity to dress up in your best dress and spend hours indulging in gorgeous little treats served on a cake stand, with tea served in fine china and catch up with girlfriends”, says Michelle Milton, founder of the High Tea Society. It is little wonder then that High Teas are making a resurgence!
Mid Sunday morning the meat goes into the oven. Vegetables skirt its base and its juices caramelise in the pan. A few hours later, the family drift in, drawn by the smells from the kitchen and while Father takes up the carving knife and fork, they all take their seats. The gravy boat is filled, a roast is to be had.
A special birthday, a child leaving home (finally), a change of season or just an exciting terrine recipe to try … Who needs more of an excuse to send out proper (i.e., by mail) invitations, adorn the table with fresh flowers and throw a lovely luncheon for the ladies?
Fancy a cuppa and a biscuit mid-morning? Back in the day, in community halls, bowling clubs and RSAs across the country, people were served what was known as ‘Elevenses’ on a mismatch of crockery, most of which is now highly collectable, including our homegrown Crown Lynn.
Appetites are sated, just the embers remain in the grate, slumber beckons, but more rich conversation is to be had. The only fitting conclusion to such an evening would be to retire to the dark-panelled library for a tumbler of Scotland’s finest.