Decorative Arts in the
Geoffrey Bawa Collection
Virtual Exhibition | 26 May – 5 June 2020
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Toys & Miniatures
Toys have always held a special fascination for designers. Charles and Ray Eames and Aldo van Eyck designed their own toys; Bawa collected them extensively. The toys displayed here were chosen for the ways in which they make three keys aspects of an object visible: Form, Materiality & Assembly.
This simple wooden box of blocks was devised by Friedrich Froebel in the mid 1800s, as an educational tool for young children. This was one of the pioneering examples of educational toys, predating Lego® by over a century. Froebel codified his Froebel® Gifts into a series of six distinct sets; many are known more commonly as Froebel Blocks, which gained popularity in the USA by the Milton Bradley Company. Many famous artists and architects used Froebels as children; including Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, Paul Klee, Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Eames. This version is likely a replica set; gifted to Geoffrey Bawa in the later stages of his life.
Marbles / materialsThe Marble Solitaire set seen here must have appealed to Geoffrey beyond its function as a game; the materiality of each stone piece is mirrored in a sequence of spherical objects Bawa collected and displayed in numerous locations at Lunuganga; as much as he collected highly ornamental fragments, Bawa’s collection also shows an appreciation for Platonic forms that highlight the essence of a material.
CarsGeoffrey Bawa’s love of cars is well-documented, as proven by the Rolls Royce and Mercedes which greet visitors at Number 11 33rd Lane, Bawa’s residence in Colombo. The two wooden specimens of toy cars have always rested in this location at Lunuganga; the other pair is from his bedroom at Number 11. Modernist architects and their love for the automobile is well known; le Corbusier is perhaps one of the most famous examples. For architects of the first half of the 20th century, the car was a mechanized object that captured form and functionality, the very essence of modernism. It is important to remember that the rising popularity of the automobile was something Bawa experienced first hand in his lifetime.
MiniaturesA curious subset of objects in the collection is Bawa’s collection of miniature furniture; made in Brass as well as timber, some of them are even exact replicas of full-sized furniture items in the collection!
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Photographs by Luka Alagiyawanna
In-situ Exhibition Photographs by Ruvin de Silva