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The hidden gem of the Stanley Picker Gallery, located on Kingston University Campus, stands on a small island surrounded by the Hogsmill River. This winter, a truly unique project - The Decorators’ ‘Portal Tables’ - is on display. Commissioned by Stanley Picker, The Decorators (a multidisciplinary design collective founded by Suzanne O’Connell, Xavi Llarch Font, Carolina Caicedo, and Mariana Pestana), were creatively inspired by the concept of commensality - the practice of sharing food and eating together in a social group. There are several aspects to their project; a set of three portable inflatable pieces of furniture and two diagrams, the deeper meaning of which is explained within two short films. 


I recently visited the gallery, one day after school. My favourite element was the concluding short film which explored what the inflatables represented and depicted how they are used and what for. Something that really stuck out to me was the ‘Kimchi-Pool’, the first piece you're faced with when entering the exhibition. In the film, Twelve individuals knelt surrounding the inflatable, hands busily combining the ingredients of the Kimchi in the pool-like surface. This scene created a very specific ambience - quiet murmurs, unintelligible conversations, a distinct background hum. Despite not being able to hear the dialogue, the feeling of a close-knit community was evident - emphasising how crucial food is in creating connections within communities, the collective act of making and eating food was rightfully portrayed as an undeniable familial bonding experience. The photograph shown is from another performance in the short film - ‘Resting’ - it shows the last piece of the exhibition, ‘Sofa-Bread’. Two people sit on the inflatable, each resting with two doughs. This mysterious performance explores the intimacy of food making by depicting the dough as an additional character in the scene, one that is loved.


All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibition and would recommend it to everyone - The Decorators, Portal Tables will be displayed at the Stanley Picker Gallery up until the fifth of February 2022, all you need to do is book a time slot on the Eventbrite website, the experience is entirely free!