The Arts

The Lost Pagodas

A site-specific installation by GERALDINE PILGRIM

at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, 27 October 2012 – 2 April 2013

For the next three years, Pavilion Contemporary will commission a different artist of high national and international standing to create work that will be sited in the Royal Pavilion during the winter period. Each artist will engage with the challenge of creating imagery that is inspiring and noticeable in this spectacular environment.  The intention is to surprise and intrigue visitors and to reveal some of the hidden histories of this unique and extraordinary building – an exotic, oriental fantasy, a testament to the flamboyant character and sophisticated taste of George IV, its discerning patron.

Geraldine Pilgrim with a model of her pagoda

Four stunning new pagodas, created by Geraldine Pilgrim especially for the Royal Pavilion, will be installed for six months from this autumn.

The pagoda represented the high point of ‘chinoiserie’ taste in England and, among George IV’s extravagant commissions for his royal palace, were six gilded porcelain pagodas, made to dazzle his guests in the Music Room.  These three dimensional pagodas stood against the rich red wall panels, embellished with painted gold pagodas and Chinese scenes. They now form part of the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace, moved there by Queen Victoria in the 1840s. However, two magnificent pagodas similar to the original creations were purchased by the Royal Pavilion in 1950.

Installation and performance artist Geraldine Pilgrim is known for her site-specific installations that respond to the architecture and history of buildings. She was intrigued by the story of the porcelain pagodas and has created an installation that temporarily replaces the ‘lost’ four. Geraldine’s pagodas will be self-contained structures placed in different areas around the building, and will echo, visually, the essence of the Pavilion’s spirit: opulence with a hint of naughtiness, celebrating the Prince Regent’s desires of food, music and love. They will entrance visitors with music, light, water and delicate lace patterning.


Champagne (in the Great Kitchen)

A Fountain- style pagoda, built out of mirrored sections, with an inner central fountain pipe pumping water from a  base tank up through the top of the pagoda, to pour out down through the nine layered sections creating an effect of a champagne tower.

Lace (in the first floor North Gallery)

A bamboo framed pagoda painted white with a laser cut lace pattern at each level. It is lit within by blue light creating a translucent ethereal lace effect and shadows.

Fairground (in the Music Room)

A multi-coloured pagoda, with an inbuilt miniature Carousel, trimmed with traditional fairground lights. Timed so that the Pagoda slowly turns on a revolve to the sound of fairground music.

Chandelier (in the Long Gallery) 

A sparkling, crystal pagoda chandelier, built on a brass-wired frame trimmed with crystals, drops and chains. Alternate layers are lit by six chandelier-size bulbs – one on each point of the ‘roofs’ – and on the ‘rooftop’ a purpose-built chandelier with 12 arms to create a full chandelier effect.


Installation artist, director and designer Geraldine Pilgrim works across theatre and the visual arts, transforming buildings, places, theatres and abandoned historic sites. Her installations and site-specific performances have won her much critical acclaim and she is highly regarded in both the performing and the visual arts.

Geraldine is artistic director of Corridor, a performance company she set up in 2000 to continue to create site-specific events and installations, She trained as a fine artist and theatre designer, co-founded and became Artistic Director of Hesitate and Demonstrate, the influential visual theatre company which toured Britain and mainland Europe, and has since been making installations, theatre-based performances and large-scale site-specific events. She is an Associate Lecturer at Wimbledon College of Art in the Theatre Design department and is a Visiting Lecturer at Goldsmith’s College and Central St. Martins.

Recent and current projects include:

Recipe of Dreams (2012), a site-specific performance created in an empty mental hospital for the Pergine Spectacollo Festival, Italy. Tea (2012), commissioned by Complicité, a site- specific performance celebrating the joy of afternoon tea, working with the tenants of Dora House Sheltered Housing, Camden  and young chefs from the Cordon Bleu Academy. Handbag (2012/09), Northern Stage Newcastle, a celebratory gem of a performance with great music, dancing and handbags commissioned originally by BAC (Battersea Arts Centre) for their Grand Hall and re-imagined for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, West Yorkshire Playhouse and the Arnolfini, Bristol. Singing the City – From Dawn to Dusk (2012), a promenade choral performance through Norwich’s medieval heritage, starting at sunrise and culminating as night falls for the Voice Project and Norwich and Norfolk Festival.

Not Forgotten (2011/10), a year-long installation in the house and grounds of Towneley Hall, Lancashire inspired by a 1601 Towneley family portrait, a Contemporary Heritage commission for Mid Pennine Arts.

Be Prepared (2010),a performance installation in the grounds of Harewood House to celebrate 100 years of the Girl Guides. Traces (2008), a performance installation commissioned by the Bluecoat as part of the Liverpool Biennial to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Blue Coat School Liverpool. Dreams of a Winter Night (2007), an installation commissioned by English Heritage as part of the Picture House Exhibition at Belsay Hall, Northumberland.

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