More about Soho, 2015
'The title of this piece refers to both Soho House and the Soho Manufactory, both located in Handsworth, Birmingham.
Soho House was the elegant home of industrial pioneer Matthew Boulton, who lived there from 1766 to 1809. He was very keen on new inventions and the house is probably the first in England to have a central heating system installed since Roman times. In addition, he had a vast steam heated bath installed and indoor flushing toilets. Within the House there are displays of silver, coins and ormolu produced in the Soho Manufactory, which was one of the world’s first factories.
Soho House was a regular venue for the meeting for the leading eighteenth century intellectuals of the Lunar Society, a group of free thinking scientists and industrialists including Joseph Priestley, Erasmus Darwin, Josiah Wedgwood, James Watt, and William Withering.
The Dining Room at Soho House is also known as the Lunar Room and it is where the Lunar Society met. The meetings held here were lively affairs, where all the latest ideas and inventions were discussed and scientific experiments carried out. Their meetings took place at the time of the full moon, which enabled members to proceed home by its light.
The Soho Vase encapsulates the activities of the Lunar Society by making reference to the activities of the group, which not only revolved around manufacturing, but included exploration of the natural world and humanitarian concerns such as slavery, with members actively campaigning for its abolition. I have used various motifs to symbolize their activities, such as hammers and nuts and bolts for manufacturing and foxglove flowers that were used in the distillation of digoxin, still utilized in the treatment of some heart conditions.
The Lunar Society made an enormous impact on life towards the end of the 18th century, largely due to their wide-ranging interests that treated the arts, humanities and sciences as compatible equals, a view that we would do well to return to.'
- Michael Eden