The Folly Flâneuse celebrated her birthday this week, and what better way to mark the occasion than with an enormous cake? Although sadly, this one is not edible. As many of the buildings featured in these pages are gone, it was a real birthday treat to see this new folly, recently constructed to ornament the Waddesdon landscape.
The cake is the work of Joana Vasconcelos, a Portuguese-born sculptor, and was commissioned by Jacob, 4th Baron Rothschild for the Waddesdon Manor estate in Buckinghamshire. The pair had collaborated in 2012 when Vasconcelos showed her Pavillon de Thé at Waddesdon – a massive wrought iron teapot.
A few years later Vasconcelos created a work featuring a drink more commonly associated with the Rothschild family – two candlestick sculptures made from bottles of the famous Chateau Lafite.
This latest Vasconcelos commission is on an entirely different scale, and has been five years in the making. The Wedding Cake celebrates love and marriage, and also continues the Rothschild tradition of offering hospitality in exuberant spaces. 12 metres high, it is built around a steel frame, and clad with 25,000 Portuguese ceramic tiles which echo the colours of the famous Sèvres porcelain in the collection at Waddesdon Manor.
The finishing touch, or perhaps the icing on the cake, is when two people climb the final steps to emerge on the top tier, and the cleverly-composed scale of the building is revealed as they become the happy couple who top many a traditional wedding cake.
The Wedding Cake has been described as ‘first and foremost a temple to love’, but when asked if it was a folly Vasconcelos said “yes”, and writing in the Times Adam Davy called it ‘the latest architectural absurdity in the great British tradition of the garden folly’. Top marks for describing the structure go to the editor at the Financial Times who came up with the headline ‘The Gateau at the Chateau’.
You can see this conjugal confection for yourselves as the Wedding Cake is open to the public on Thursdays and selected Sundays https://waddesdon.org.uk/whats-on/wedding-cake-tours/
Visitors to Jupiter Artland, the sculpture park close to Edinburgh, may have seen the vibrant Vasconcelos swimming pool there, or indeed have taken the plunge as there are public sessions over the summer https://www.jupiterartland.org/gateway-bathing-sessions/
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