Table acts as battleground

A remarkable eight-metre-long ceramic centrepiece created by a renowned artist is going on show at Alnwick Castle.

Bouke de Vries’ installation entitled War and Pieces is created from thousands of fragments of white porcelain.

The eye-catching creation depicts an epic battle, culminating in a striking mushroom cloud.

It will besiege the 10-metre mahogany table in the castle’s sumptuous state dining room.

The installation will take place on Thursday, June 27, by de Vries himself.

It means that visitors to the dining room on that day can witness the extraordinary structure taking shape.

The centrepiece will then be on show until October.

War and Pieces takes inspiration from the tradition of grand banquets and balls held on the eve of battle.

It also draws on the 17th-century custom of decorating banqueting tables with extravagant sugar sculptures.

These centrepieces were carefully preserved and reused as part of lavish dining entertainment and as a demonstration of wealth and taste, before being replaced by porcelain in the 18th century.

A closer look at the installation will show that de Vries has cleverly incorporated components of brightly-coloured contemporary plastic toys into some of the figurines, contrasting vividly with the pure white of the 18th-century ceramics.

London-based Dutch artist de Vries was one of the capital’s leading ceramic conservators, but began making sculptures from broken china and porcelain and became an instant darling of collectors.

He was soon picked up by Kay Saatchi for the 2009 Murmurart show at Selfridges where he sold all three selected works including No No No, his reflection on late singer Amy Winehouse.