News, Essays & Exhibition Blurb

Response to a Brief - Sense of Place site-specific exhibition

Sat 30th Sep 2023

Taking inspiration from the boxed lime trees at Willoughby and the topiary hedging and decorative porcelain at Grimsthorpe Castle Soraya Smithson has made a number of ceramic pieces, from frivolous ornaments to crockery serveware. Soraya believes that objet d’art imbue a place with a sense of occupation, and the more curious the item the more powerful its evocation of the past and suggestion of stories.

Topiary Forms:

Smithson has playfully replicated the boxed lime hedges of the formal garden at the Willoughby Gallery and embellished them with forms found on the neatly trimmed yew hedges and topiary parterre square at Grimsthorpe Castle. Fusing ornamental garden with ornament Soraya has created clipped green sculptural forms that bring these outdoor spaces inside.


The craft and aesthetic of decorative tableware were seen as indicators of class, wealth, taste and power. Smithson has ventured for the first time into serveware creating a series of platters and slipware dishes reminiscent of 17thcentrury ceramic decorative fashions. Much of this work is not on show as it failed. She has also made a pair of flatback figurative sculptures inspired by a short-lived fashion in domestic dioramas and the Grimsthorpe Castle family emblem.