Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Chelsea Arts Ball

Searle contributed to the decor of the 1954 Chelsea Arts Ball with a 'mermaid' construction 50 feet tall! Searle's style was beautifully translated into three dimensions under his supervision.

"...Searle called upon all his powers of invention. The d├ęcor was  even more sumptuous, on the theme 'The Seven Seas'. In a ghostly dance, weird sea monsters, giant spider crabs, mermaids and octopuses swung slowly above the heads of the dancers, illuminated bymulti-coloured lights, whilst a giant King Neptune held court with mermaids in the centre of the sea-bed." (-Artists & Bohemians: 100 years with the Chelsea Arts Club, Tom Cross)

Here is one of Searle's preparatory sketches for the central model.

'The Seven Seas', 72 x 52cm (28 3/8 x 20 1/2in) watercolour, gouache and pencil.
This drawing was also used included in the event's programme.

Here is the full programme

The Times January 1st, 1955

In the Searle Archive, Hannover I found several photographic prints showing the models Searle constructed in detail.  In addition to the central construction with its King Triton & mermaid figures there are numerous other submarine creations.  Evidently he also painted a back-cloth too.