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.


illustrationISM.... said...

50 FEET TALL!!! Amazing! Do they still have it in storage anywhere? or did they destroy it?

mark jaquette @
illustrationISM &

Mick said...

magnificently terrifying

Ann ODyne said...

Dear Illustrationism,
I hope that model/sculptor Krumins of Sidcup retained ownership and that his Estate treasures this wonder ...

on the other hand, the Chelsea Arts Balls were painted by the contemporary media as depraved wanton insane affairs, and the decor could conceivably not survive the celebrations.