Holkham Series by Arjan Van Dal

Arjan Van Dal 

Arjan’s interpretation of ‘A Portrait of Place’ at Holkham Hall is a collection of ceramic sculptures and vessels that draw on the estate’s “land, sky and the colours in between”. He recalls cycling along the miles-long South Drive up to the hall,“feeling like you can touch the ever-present north Norfolk sky when suddenly the imposing hall loomed up. The strict symmetry, geometrical forms and austere outlook are equally impressive to the eye of a lover of forms, lines and shapes.”

Arjan Van Dal


Arjan was fascinated by the fact that Holkham Hall was erected out of something so humble as locally produced clay brick, instead of, for example, Bath Stone. References to Roman architecture were evident throughout: from the use of bricks, as the Romans did, to the Marble Hall’s ceiling which took Arjan back to the Pantheon, gazing into the open centre point of the dome. Further into the Hall, Arjan found the stately rooms to be “a feast for lovers of colour” and was particularly inspired by the deep tones of the silk wall hangings and the vivid colours of the tapestries. His Holkham Series explores the striking contrast of a classic colour palette applied in a contemporary setting.

Arjan Van Dal


To further depict ‘a portrait of place’, Arjan has used clay from the local - now disused - brickfield at Holkham Hall. With the same clay that built Holkham in the 18th century, Arjan set about working it into a usable material for his collection. Normally working in porcelain and at his wheel, it was an exciting endeavour for him, experimenting with new techniques and responding to the clay’s different properties. Arjan wedged colours of different intensities into the clay body before starting to work with it, building layers slowly using a so-called ‘mille feuille’ technique to blend the two together into a perfect ombre. To highlight the colours, the pieces are polished at different stages of the making process to create as smooth a surface as possible: “In that way the light can bounce directly back from the piece to make it feel soft yet deeply intense to the eye.”

Arjan Van Dal


Explore the sculptural new pieces from Arjan below or book an appointment to view them in person at our Mayfair showroom.